There are a number of different types of operation that are used to correct obesity. These include gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass .
All these procedures are now usually done laparoscopically (keyhole surgery).
These procedures are today recognized as effective and safe when done by experienced surgeons for the right patient, but they are still big operations and things can go wrong.
The best results need continuing attention to diet and nutrition by the patient as recommended by their specialist.
Gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy both have a significant incidence of needing reoperation.
There is an Australasian surgical society dedicated to weight loss surgery. Their website lists a number of recommendations about who should have surgery.
As well as the Weight Loss Surgery (usually Sleeve Gastrectomy or Laparoscopic Gastric Banding) some surgeons also recommend removal of abdominal fat at the same time (sometimes known as Apronectomy).
As well as any out of pocket costs for the main surgery, some patients are billed very large amounts for the extra apronectomy. Keep this in mind when discussing likely costs.
It is also not uncommon for the Anaesthetist and Assistant to charge significant out of pockets for this type of surgery.
When complications do occur costs quickly escalate, particularly if further operations are required. Hospital charges are generally covered by Private Health Insurance. Some surgeons will not charge further out-of-pockets if reoperation is required.
Weight loss surgery is a service that is not available in some public hospitals. In that case uninsured patients sometimes take big risks to get treatment. They may try to self-fund the procedure, sometimes going overseas, sometimes trying to access their superannuation to pay for the procedure. This is their decision, but when things go wrong the budget blows out quickly and they can be left in a desperate situation, going to a public hospital which doesn’t do the operation to get complications fixed.