Private surgery

If you have the ability to fund the surgery yourself, you may contact a surgeon to arrange to have it done privately. The cost for having a gastric band privately treatment generally ranges from £4,000 – £8,000. The cost for gastric bypass generally ranges from £8,000–£15,000. For the more complex procedures your surgeon may want you to be a private patient in the NHS hospital rather than in the local private hospital, because of the proximity to specialist care and services should you need them.

Check what the cost you are quoted for private treatment entails:

  • Pre–op assessment blood tests and ECG? Surgeon, physician and dietitian fees?
  • All hospital costs and operation costs? Fees for surgeon and anaesthetist? What happens if something should go wrong and you need to stay in hospital or need more specialised care?
  • Follow up treatment. What period of care is covered? How many visits to the surgeon (and how many band fills?) What about the dietitian? Does it include blood tests for RNY/BPD/DS patients? What happens if something goes wrong and you need additional care?

Don't be afraid to ask questions about what a treatment package entails. Many band surgery packages offer two band fills and that in many ways works at odds with the very attribute that makes the band such a good treatment - its adjustability. Many patients require several more adjustments over the 2 years after surgery to reach their weight loss goals. It is better to pay slightly more for a package that includes more surgeon appointments and dietitians follow–up after surgery than to be faced with the dilemma of not doing as well as you had hoped and having to find the money for additional appointments (fill appointments are charged at £150 or more each in some areas).

Unfortunately most of the British private health insurance companies have a very stigmatising attitude and will not reimburse the costs of the surgery. Their usual response to enquiries is that they will not pay because obesity is a chronic condition. BOSPA is lobbying the private insurers to adopt a more enlightened approach - weight loss surgery is one of the most cost–effective of all medical treatments for any condition and treating the obesity will more than likely reduce the likelihood of the insurer having to pay out for many other treatments over subsequent years.

Some patients chose to travel to France or other countries in Europe for their surgery to be done privately because the basic costs of the operation are considerably lower. However, you would miss out on the follow up care services that UK surgery provides. It is not fair to sidestep the local services to queue jump or to save some money on your surgery and then expect the NHS or local surgeon to take on your post–op management. Many surgeons will actually refuse to see you even privately if you have had your surgery done abroad.

Whichever route you follow for your surgery, the most important aspect is the follow up care and that provided at specialist UK obesity surgery centres will undoubtedly be the best. Multidisciplinary teams ensure that attention is given to all aspects of follow up; weight loss progress, diet, exercise and social aspects, as well as the correct functioning of the alterations made to your anatomy by the surgery. This quality of care should not be compromised by your seeking treatment privately.