Experiencing lap band complications or failure can be upsetting and stressful. Many patients who need to have their bands removed will consider conversion to another surgery so that they can continue with their weight loss plan. It is estimated that greater than 25% bands will be converted to another bariatric procedure such as a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass. But with the stress that already goes along with having to get a band removed, patients are often even more stressed when they start to think about how much this additional band to sleeve surgery will cost.
What is the initial cost?
The cost of your band to sleeve surgery will depend on the specific problem you’re experiencing with your band, your surgical center, and the state where your operation will take place. In some cases, your doctor may be able to convert you to the sleeve during the same procedure that they remove your failed band. If not, you may require two separate surgeries, which could mean more money spent. On average, your conversion surgery can range from $7,000 to $20,000.
So long as your conversion surgery is considered medically necessary, most insurance companies will cover some or part of the cost of the conversion. Some experiences that may prove your surgery to be medically necessary include if you’ve experienced inadequate weight loss after two years, pouch dilatation, esophageal dismotility, obstruction, stricture, erosion, or band slippage. If you’ve experienced these and you can prove to your insurance company that you’ve been following all of the nutrition and exercise requirements, most will help cover the cost of your conversion. Your bariatric surgeon can help document and confirm these complications with an upper GI and also a EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy).
Complications can add additional costs. If the surgery is covered by insurance, then complications are typically covered as well. To avoid complications, it’s important that your surgery is completed by an experienced bariatric surgery with a history of performing conversion and revision surgeries.
What is the cost over time?
Once the operation is over, it has fewer costs than the lap band would over time. The lap band requires adjustments to check for tightness, but the sleeve doesn’t need these adjustments--which can save patients money. Fewer follow-up visits mean less money spent.
Depending on your insurance company and surgical center, you may be expected to cover the cost of nutritional appointments. You’ll usually be aware of these costs before you have your surgery, and since you’ve already had the band, you should have a general idea of what these will cost so that you can prepare for them. In general, they can range from $50 per visit to over $100 per visit.
If you’re left covering the cost of your own surgery because you do not have insurance or because your insurance company denied your claim, your surgeon will often be willing to work with you. It’s always disheartening to learn that your lap band failed and needs to be removed, but it doesn’t have to put an end to your weight loss journey. It is also important to remember, that if your insurance company paid for your band insertion, then they need to cover it when complications occur. This can still be a battle with them and your bariatric surgeon should help you with this to get your surgery covered.
Many patients see improved weight loss results with the lap sleeve and are much happier after the surgery than with the lap band. If you’re experiencing problems with your lap band, schedule a consultation with one of our experienced bariatric surgeons today. Don’t waste another minute feeling uncomfortable or dealing with inadequate weight loss.