What You Need to Know About Lap-Band Surgery

By Diana Zuckerman, PhD National Research Center for Women & Families

Posted on | By Diana Zuckerman, PhD

How much does Lap-Band surgery cost? How much does it cost to remove a Lap-Band?

It usually costs between $15,000-$30,000 to put in a Lap-Band. If there are complications, removal will cost at least that much, if not more.  If you are considering a Lap-Band, find out if your health insurance will pay for the surgery and be sure to find out if it will pay to have the Lap-Band removed. If it does, consider whether you are likely to have as generous an insurance policy a few years from now, when you are most likely to need additional surgery. Many insurance companies will only pay for one Lap-Band surgery, so they will pay to put it in, but not to take it out.

Remember, a Lap-Band will not last forever.  If a patient chooses to keep their Lap-Band as long as possible, eventually it will need to be removed (and patients can pay to replace it). Many do not last 10 years.

If you are financially comfortable and have savings for future surgery if needed, a Lap-Band could be a reasonable choice. Consider the complications if insurance or tight finances are or might become a problem for you.

I’ve seen ads that say a Lap-Band can save your life. Is this true? Is there proof?

It is possible that a Lap-Band could save a person’s life. But, it may not even improve the health of most people who get them. Ads by doctors are usually not regulated to ensure “truth in advertising.”

There are no studies to tell us if most people who get Lap-Bands are healthier or less healthy 5 years later. We also don’t know what percentage of patients die from Lap-Band complications.

What happens when Lap-Bands deteriorate? 

A Lap-Band that deteriorates can kill or seriously harm a patient if it is not removed. We don’t know how long most Lap-Bands will last in the human body before they deteriorate and that is why the FDA is requiring Allergan, which makes Lap-Bands, to do studies to answer those questions. In the meantime, however, Allergan can keep selling Lap-Bands.

Article written by Diana Zuckerman, PhD
National Research Center for Women & Families