Obese or morbidly obese patients often struggle to lose weight on their own by engaging in behavioral changes, which is why there are numerous medically supervised weight loss programs, including diet and exercise, pre-packed meal replacement, pharmacotherapy, and surgery. Despite the fact that a healthy diet and regular physical activity is key in all cases, sometimes more extreme measures are needed. In the United States, the weight loss surgeries conducted include gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric band (gastric banding), and biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch.
Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch is a type of procedure that results in higher weight loss, and it is particularly indicated for super obese patients, the equivalent to a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 50. However, it also has high rates of side effect occurrence and the most appropriate type of surgery should be discussed between physicians and patients before choosing any weight loss surgery type. During a biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, the surgeon removes part of the stomach and separates the small intestine into two parts to connect it to the stomach.
The surgery results in a rearrangement of the digestive system, as the food passes directly from the newly created tubular stomach pouch into the last segment of the small intestine, bypassing about three-fourths of the small intestine. The part of the digestive system bypassed by the food is the one that carries bile and pancreatic enzymes, which are key for protein and fat absorption. Despite the encouraging results of a bariatric surgery, patients also need to take into consideration the costs associated with it.
Average Costs Associated With a Biliopancreatic Diversion
There isn’t one standard price for any type of bariatric surgery and it depends on numerous factors. Biliopancreatic diversion costs on average between $20.000 and $25,000, but the prices can greatly differ across the country. The tendency is for the costs to be higher in states where the prevalence of obesity and weight loss surgery is lower, as well as the contrary. Therefore, patients can pay about $24,000 in New Jersey, but $32,500 in Nebraska. Patients can consult the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to understand where to seek bariatric surgery, but long travels to save money on the surgery are discouraged.
Factors that Influence Biliopancreatic Diversion’s Costs
Location is only one of the variables that impact the costs of a bariatric surgery. In addition to it, the costs can differ due to a patient’s health characteristics and specific needs, as well as due to the surgeon and medical center chosen for the surgery. These costs are considered without any support and in the case of health plans, insurance coverage or other payment plans, the costs can be lower. Despite the fact that getting insurance or reimbursement is not easy when it comes to bariatric surgery, patients may ask the help of a surgeon or an attorney to go through the process. In some cases, insurance only covers the procedure when medically necessary, according to the national guidelines for the care of morbid obesity.
Additional Costs Following the Biliopancreatic Diversion
Undergoing biliopancreatric diversion with duodenal switch is only the first step of the treatment and after the surgery patients will have to commit to numerous lifestyle alterations and will continue to have costs. The medical care after the procedure includes regular visits with a nutritionist and physician, which has different prices but costs on average $50 to $100 per visit. The adoption of new habits will comprise costs in needs like gym memberships, healthier food, new clothing, among others. While in other surgeries, supplements may be recommended, in the case of biliopancreatic diversion it is mandatory. Supplements and vitamins will cost patients at least $1,500 per year. These costs presume that there are no complications, in which case the expenses can be increased by treatments or reoperations.
Biliopancreatic Diversion’ Costs Compared to Not Having the Surgery
Although a weight loss journey with bariaric surgery is not easy or cheap, patients can compare the costs with the ones from being submitted to other types of treatment or from doing nothing about obesity. It is a medical condition that has high costs in the long-term, as obese patients spend an average of $1,566 every year on medical expenses alone, and morbidly obese patients at least $2,845, compared to people with an healthy weight. These expenses are inevitable for the rest of a patient’s life and tend to increase annually. Take action earlier may avoid potential costs in the future by preventing other medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or sleep apnea, as well as help patients regain confidence and ability to enjoy physical, social, and family activities.
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