Bariatric surgery can cost up to $30,000, depending on which process you get and where you live. And follow-up surgeries keep the hospital bills coming in the mail. But it's not like this is stopping anybody from getting them.
A New York Times article reports that the number of people seeking out bariatric surgeries increased a whopping 804% between 1998 and 2004, and the head of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery estimates the number has probably doubled since the mid-2000's. After the surgery, many people have to decide whether to invest even more cashflow on their brand-new bodies, with follow-up cosmetic surgeries to remove excess skin, nutritional counselors, and gym memberships some of the most common tack-on expenses. Just the cosmetic surgery alone can out-expensify the original weight-loss operation. And what if the surgery isn't successful? Then you're shit out of luck, and out of money.
Nevertheless, many people remain willing to take the financial risk. While insurance often won't cover the surgery for people who don't meet certain weight thresholds, the FDA is considering lowering the bar for certain procedures that might change things. To be more specific, an advisory committee has recommended lowering the FDA threshold for the LAP-BAND, which is adjustable, reversible, and supposedly less dangerous than gastric bypass (this article explains the diff between bands and bypasses). If the recs pass, expect more people to take the slim-down surgery plunge—helping the health care industry's bottom line while reducing people's waistlines (at least in some cases).
Image bandita/via Flickr.