Weight Loss Surgery Might Not Provide a Return on Investment for Healthcare Costs

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New research calls into question whether weight loss surgery reduces healthcare costs for patients three years after the procedure. LAP-BAND VIP Surgeon Dr. Shahram Salimitari said regardless of whether patients save money on healthcare, the focus is on improving their obesity-related health complications, such as diabetes or sleep apnea.

At LAP-BAND VIP, we aim to assist patients in losing weight so they can have a healthier life free from obesity-related complications, such as type 2 diabetes or sleep apnea...

Although previous research had shown that patients not only had an improvement in their health but they reduced their healthcare costs, a new study reveals that healthcare costs might remain about the same. Patients in the study were followed for three years after their weight loss surgery and were found to be spending about the same amount of money on their healthcare bills as before the surgery. Los Angeles Weight Loss Surgeon Dr. Shahram Salimitari of LAP-BAND VIP said patients should focus on weight loss and improving their health when making the decision to have bariatric surgery, rather than looking for a return on their financial investment.

The study, published in the July issue of the Archives of Surgery journal, found that a group of bariatric surgery patients all had health improvements in the short term. However, without making lifestyle modifications, such as proper diet and exercise, their risk for continued health problems remained high. The researchers noted that the study participants were mostly male, older, and sicker than most bariatric surgery patients, which may be why their healthcare costs were not reduced after surgery. Lead researcher Matthew Maciejewski said it is possible that if the patients had been followed for a longer period, their healthcare costs could have been reduced.

Whether or not bariatric surgery is effective in reducing healthcare costs, the focus should be on improving the patient’s health, said Dr. Salimitari. Losing weight and maintaining it is largely dependent on the effort of the patient, he emphasized, otherwise obesity-related health complications will return.

“At LAP-BAND VIP, we aim to assist patients in losing weight so they can have a healthier life free from obesity-related complications, such as type 2 diabetes or sleep apnea, not to mention an increased self-esteem and a better quality of life,” said Dr. Salimitari. “Patients shouldn’t be focused on seeing a return on their investment for any medical procedure.”

A second study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis published in the July edition of Maturitas had the opposite conclusion. Their findings indicated that bariatric surgery is a cost-effective procedure for the majority of obese patients. The research team analyzed data from 170 studies and looked at the effectiveness of bariatric surgery according to weight loss, quality of life, and medical cost information. Their findings suggested that patients who have bariatric surgery are more likely to maintain weight in the long-term and have fewer weight-related medical problems. Although they acknowledged that the cost of weight loss surgery is much more expensive than dieting and exercise, they reported that it results in less money spent on obesity-related complications in the long run.

Patients have different reasons why they choose weight loss surgery, but a 2012 survey conducted by Arizona State University researchers made a list of the top motivators for surgery, such as reducing health problems and to boost self-esteem.

Bariatric surgery is performed on patients who are severely obese, or about 100 pounds or more over their ideal weight. Potential candidates are selected by meeting criteria, such as having tried to lose weight unsuccessfully through traditional means and their likelihood to comply with their physician’s instructions for pre- and post-operative lifestyle modifications. Several methods of bariatric surgery are common, such as gastric bypass, LAP-BAND, or sleeve gastrectomy.


Dr. Shahram Salimitari obtained a medical degree from the Chicago Medical School and undertook his General Surgery residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. He continued his training with a fellowship in minimally-invasive surgery at the University of South Florida. He specializes in weight loss surgery with a focus in gastric banding procedures.

LAP-BAND VIP has a dedicated surgical and medical staff with extensive training and expertise perfected through years of practice. Our staff provides unparalleled, personalized service for all individuals in their weight loss journey. To learn more about LAP-BAND VIP and to schedule your free consultation, visit http://www.lapbandvip.com or call (800) 561-9000.

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