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How much can you expect to pay for gastric bypass surgery?

When eating and exercise aren't working, you might consider a bariatric procedure.

Written by
Teneal Zuvela
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
January 16, 2024
min read
How much can you expect to pay for gastric bypass surgery?
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Losing weight takes a lot of perseverance and it can be really discouraging when you have been doing all of the right things and seeing little to no results. When healthy eating and regular exercise don't seem to be working, some people turn to bariatric procedures.

Gastric bypass surgery is one of the most common weight loss procedures performed in Australia and if you're currently struggling with weight loss, you might be considering this option. But before you do, it's important to know that choosing the right weight loss treatment is a big decision and there are many things to consider before settling on a surgical option.

Let's take you through some of the costs and health risks involved in having a gastric bypass surgery so you that can decide whether it's the right treatment for you.

What is gastric bypass surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery, also known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, is a type of bariatric surgery. This means that the surgery makes permanent changes to your stomach and digestive system to help you lose weight.

The procedure involves making a small pouch in the top part of your stomach with surgical staples. This allows food to bypass the rest of your stomach and some of your small intestine, essentially decreasing the overall size of your stomach. After gastric bypass surgery, you won't need as much food to feel full, making it easier to keep weight off.

This type of bariatric surgery is usually performed via a laparoscopy or keyhole procedure, which means that the surgeon only makes a small cut in the stomach and performs the surgery through a small tube with a camera that relays the images to an external monitor.

While this is much less invasive than other types of surgery, gastric bypass surgery still requires three to four days in hospital and post-operative care.

What's the difference between gastric sleeve and gastric band surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery is just one of three main bariatric procedures performed in Australia. The other types of weight loss surgery include gastric band surgery and gastric sleeve surgery. While both of these surgeries deliver a similar outcome to gastric bypass surgery, they involve very different surgical procedures and come with their own set of pros and cons.

Gastric band surgery or lap band surgery is when a band is placed around the top part of the stomach to create a small pouch at the top. Where gastric bypass surgery uses surgical staples to create the pouch, gastric band surgery uses an adjustable band. This band is then connected to a device under the skin, where the band can be tightened as needed.

Gastric sleeve surgery involves removing a large portion of the stomach and unlike gastric band surgery, is an irreversible procedure. However, all procedures result in the person requiring less food to feel full after eating.

Who is eligible for gastric bypass surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery is not for everyone and you usually need to meet a set of medical criteria to be eligible for the surgery.

This generally requires the person undergoing surgery to be classified as severely obese with a minimum body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. However, you may also qualify for gastric bypass surgery if you have a BMI between 35 and 39.9 and also suffer from serious obesity-related health conditions, including:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Infertility
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

After the surgery, you must be willing to commit to a series of long-term lifestyle changes and health monitoring.

It's also important to note that gastric bypass surgery is usually only offered as a last resort to people who have already tried to lose weight through diet and exercise changes. If you have tried other weight loss treatment options to no avail, you might be eligible for gastric bypass surgery.

A consultation with your doctor or medical professional can advise you further.

What are the risks associated with gastric bypass surgery?

All surgical procedures have risks involved and gastric bypass surgery is no different.

Some common complications of gastric bypass procedures include infections, blood clots, adverse reactions to anesthesias and internal bleeding.

It's also possible to experience an anastomosis, which is when your stomach doesn't heal properly after surgery and begins leaking digestive juices and partially digested food into your body. This is one of the more dangerous complications of gastric bypass surgery.

There are also some long-term complications and health risks that you should be aware of, including:

  • Bowel obstruction
  • Gallstones
  • Hernias
  • Dumping Syndrome
  • Low blood sugar
  • Stomach perforation
  • Ulcers

After your gastric bypass surgery, you will be required to take vitamin supplements for the rest of your life to make up for the vitamins usually absorbed in the small intestine. In rare cases, some people still do not absorb all of the nutrients that they need and may suffer from malnutrition.

How much does gastric bypass surgery cost in Australia?

This bariatric surgery can be expensive and the gastric bypass cost will vary depending on your individual circumstances.

If you have private health insurance cover, gastric bypass surgery may be included in your plan. However, it's usually only included in high levels of cover and even then, you should still expect to pay some out-of-pocket expenses.

In Australia, you can expect to pay anywhere between AUD $4,000 to AUD $6,000 with private health insurance and between AUD $16,000 to AUD $18,000 if you don't have any private health cover.

While it may be worth joining a private health fund or upgrading your current level of private health insurance for the surgery, you will still have to go through the regular 12-month waiting period before getting approved for surgery. This is because obesity is considered a pre-existing condition.

Is there a medicare rebate for gastric bypass surgery?

There is a medicare rebate for gastric bypass surgery, however, Medicare will only provide partial reimbursement for the surgery cost and you will still need to pay the large majority of the cost out-of-pocket.

To qualify for the Medicare rebate, you will need to meet the medical criteria for bariatric surgery and also demonstrate that you have serious weight-related health conditions if your BMI is under 40.

You can check the Medicare benefits schedule database to get an idea of your predicted rebate amount.

Why does weight loss surgery cost so much?

Bariatric surgeries are expensive procedures because they usually involve a significant amount of before and aftercare.

Before a gastric bypass procedure, you will likely need to attend consultations with a variety of medical professionals, nutritionists and counsellors. You may also have to pay higher fees depending on the clinic that you choose to attend for the surgery.

Your surgery costs will also factor in things like medical equipment charges, anaesthesia fees, bariatric surgeon charges and surgical assistant fees. Plus, you will also need to consider the length of your stay in the hospital and any additional hospital fees that occur while you're there.

After your surgery, you may require additional medications and post-operative care, as well as follow-up consultations with medical professionals. This is why gastric bypass surgery can result in some pretty hefty medical bills.

Alternatives to gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass surgery can be a life-changing procedure but bariatric surgery isn't for everyone and it's important to know that there are many other treatment options available. Specialist-designed weight loss treatments, health coaching and meal replacement shakes can all help you reach your weight loss goals in a more sustainable and encouraging way.

That's why Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program incorporates all of these treatments into one effective weight loss program. Our program gives you access to clinically-proven treatments that target the body’s metabolic patterns as well as health coaching and one-on-one goal setting with an Australian practitioner so you have all of the tools to improve your health.

The Metabolic Reset Program offers a far less invasive alternative to having gastric bypass surgery, giving you the chance to lose weight in a more sustainable way and avoid potential health complications and hospital stays that come with bariatric surgeries.

When compared to the cost of gastric bypass surgery, the program can save you thousands and doesn't require any hospital visits.

The weight loss journey is a complicated one and there are many routes you can take. Just remember that we're here to help if you need it.

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