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Why are Gastric Sleeves so Expensive?

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It’s a question I hear a lot from people who are thinking about a gastric band or gastric sleeve surgery. The gastric sleeve is usually about £4,000 more expensive than the gastric band. There are several good reasons for this, including:

  • Longer theatre time so all fees are higher
  • A longer stay in the hospital
  • Higher consumable costs to complete the procedure (we use cutting and stapling equipment that is single use and very expensive)
  • Return to theatre warranty (to protect patients from the high costs of extended stays if they experience a complication)

These costs are slightly offset by lower clinic follow up costs for the sleeve but not by nearly enough to close the gap.

So, to have a sleeve in the UK with a responsible provider, an experienced surgeon and in a good private hospital close to where you live is going to set you back in the region of £10,000. It’s a lot to find and as only about 2,000 sleeve procedures per year are done in the NHS it’s likely you’ll need to fund the procedure yourself. When you look at the cost over the long term though, it might still be viewed as a good investment. Not only will getting your weight under control both improve your quality of life and extend it, but there is also data to show that your earning prospects will improve too. This can’t be taken as guaranteed but there are multiple studies that show this, including one I blogged about previously.

You can read here about self-funding weight loss surgery.

It means that if you can find a way to finance the procedure the combination of health, happiness and earning benefits should make it worthwhile. You’ll find there are lenders willing to extend loans for surgery over a 4 or 5 year period and your own bank may be willing to help you with a term loan.  At our own practice, we have introduced 3 payment plans specifically targeted at sleeve patients, including a ‘half and half’ plan for people who have saved half of the sleeve fee but need to borrow the rest.

You can read more about these plans here

The key message is to think about the value of the surgery as well as the cost and my message to all patients is always to find a way to have the procedure that is right for you. If you elect for a procedure because it has a lower cost but you don’t think you can work with it you are almost always better to wait and have the right thing. Finance plans might enable you to bring that data forward.

Useful links:

Gastric sleeve surgery

Gastric sleeve in the NHS

Gastric band surgery

*Finance subject to individual status and UK residence. Terms and conditions apply.

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