Bariatric surgery safety and efficacy research in and of itself is a huge task and when cost is tacked on, finding the cheapest gastric sleeve surgery in USA clinics or hospitals may feel impossible.1
Luckily, for those trying to figure out how to lose 10 to 15 pounds in a month consistently, this article lays out the cheap states & providers (and most expensive) to seek out and avoid for weight loss surgery along with some potential hidden costs and other important things to look out for.
How Much Does Gastric Sleeve Surgery Cost in the USA? (Self Pay vs Insurance)
VSG surgery cost (medically labeled as vertical sleeve gastrectomy) in the US can range anywhere from $7,000 to over $30,000; however, this amount is complex.
Even if the least expensive surgery is found in a certain state, that doesn’t mean it is the cheapest gastric sleeve surgery in USA bariatric facilities. In fact, to further complicate the situation, the cost can actually vary dramatically due to insurance coverage.
If anyone has dealt with insurance, they know that coverage is never straight forward. Insurance consists of premiums, deductibles, and co-insurance which can vary from $0 to thousands of dollars. On top of those basics, in-network and out-of-network costs are also important considerations when searching for a provider, as not every doctor is contracted with every insurance company.
In 2020, twenty-three states included weight loss surgery for qualified participants in their small group and individual insurance plans due to adjustments in the Affordable Care Act, allowing many to consider surgery instead of continually failing at trending diets.3 The following states have elected Essential Health Benefits Benchmark plans that incorporate bariatric surgery:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
While the above states do require coverage, there is no overarching law that dictates exact percentages of premiums, copays, and deductibles, which is why it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cost of surgery without looking at an individualized plan.
Ranking of the Cheapest Gastric Sleeve Surgery in USA & the Most Expensive
In exploring the cheapest weight loss surgery by state, it was found that the cost could vary by over $15,000 when insurance was not involved. While this is a huge variance, looking at factors such as locale, general cost of living, and health care requirements all play a large role in pricing hospitals, surgeons, and even medication.
The below compilation of state rankings lays out the most expensive advertised price of gastric sleeve to least as reported by both bariatric facilities themselves as well as prior patients.
Most amounts include a majority of fees, but this should be confirmed before making any type of appointment or during the first consultation. These prices, however, do not take into account insurance; which, as mentioned above, could drastically affect the final cost.
- 50: Alaska – $22,500
- 49: Maine – $21,000
- 48: Delaware – $20,773
- 47: Pennsylvania – $20,000
- 46: New York – $19,375
- 45: Massachusetts – $19,100
- 44: Oregon – $19,100
- 43: Virginia – $19,000
- 42: Vermont – $18,200
- 41: Connecticut – $18,000
- 40: Utah – $17,500
- 39: New Hampshire – $17,100
- 38: Minnesota – $16,500
- 37: Nebraska – $16,400
- 36: Hawaii – $16,400
- 35: Rhode Island – $16,000
- 34: Illinois – $15,200
- 33: Arizona – $14,750
- 32: Idaho – $14,300
- 31: Indiana – $14,200
- 30: Wyoming – $14,200
- 29: South Carolina – $14,000
- 28: Wisconsin – $13,500
- 27: California – $13,200
- 26: Georgia – $12,900
- 25: Mississippi – $12,500
- 24: Colorado – $12,250
- 23: Kansas – $12,000
- 22: Maryland – $12,000
- 21: North Carolina – $12,000
- 20: Ohio – $12,000
- 19: Tennessee – $12,000
- 18: New Mexico – $11,600
- 17: Montana – $11,500
- 16: Washington – $11,100
- 15: Kentucky – $11,000
- 14: Michigan – $11,000
- 13: New Jersey – $10,500
- 12: West Virginia – $10,500
- 11: Florida – $10,000
- 10: Louisiana – $10,000
- 9: Missouri – $10,000
- 8: South Dakota – $10,000
- 7: Arkansas – $9,995
- 6: North Dakota – $9,800
- 5: Oklahoma – $9,000
- 4: Alabama – $8,995
- 3: Iowa – $8,800
- 2: Texas – $8,000
- 1: Nevada – $7,000
Bariatric Providers in the Least Expensive States
It is easy enough to look up “weight loss surgery near me” in a search engine, but for those researching surgeons in the cheapest states, the clinics below list their starting self pay price for gastric sleeve on their webpage.
Browsing the below websites may also help candidates become familiar with processes and help them gain extra access to educational material.
Note, we have absolutely zero affiliations with any of these clinics and we encourage readers to always perform their own due diligence when choosing a surgeon.
VIPSurg in Las Vegas, Nevada
VIPSurg is a highly rated bariatric and surgery center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their website advertises a cash pay price of $10,950 which covers the following:
- Consultation and Preoperative Visits
- Pre-Surgery EKG
- Doctor’s Fees
- Anesthesiology Fees
- Surgery Center Costs
- Six Months of Follow Up Visits
There are no exclusions listed on VIPSurg’s website in regards to what is not covered in the above pricing, but it is important to inquire if there will be any additional out of pocket costs.
VIPSurg – Las Vegas, Nevada – $10,950
4275 Burnham Avenue
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119
Weight Wise Bariatric Program in Edmond, Oklahoma
Weight Wise Bariatric Program, which is highly touted by its previous patients, offers three tiers of gastric sleeve pricing; with each higher tier offering a unique benefit.
Tier 1 Gastric Sleeve starts at $9,995 and includes:
- Doctor’s Fees
- Hospital Fees
- Anesthesiologist Fees
- 3 Months of Follow Up Visits
Tier 2 Gastric Sleeve starts at $11,995 and includes all of the above costs plus a weight loss money back guarantee.
Tier 3 gastric sleeve starts at $12,995 and includes all of the above costs plus insurance for potential surgery complications.
Pre-surgery consultation, specialty appointments, medications, and vitamins are not mentioned in the tiered costs and should be confirmed before moving forward.
Weight Wise Bariatric Program – Edmond, Oklahoma – $9,995
1800 South Renaissance Boulevard
Edmond, Oklahoma 73013
Madison Surgical Associates in Huntsville, Alabama
As advertised on exceptionally praised Madison Surgical Associates website, the cost of an uncomplicated gastric sleeve procedure is $9,500 and allows for:
- Pathology and Radiology Fees
- Doctor’s Fees
- Anesthesiology Fees
- Hospital Stay
The above costs may not include the consultation, required pre-surgery appointments, medications, vitamins, and follow up visits and coverage needs to be confirmed at the time of consultation.
Madison Surgical Associates – Huntsville, Alabama – $9,500
207 Longwood Drive Southwest
Huntsville, Alabama 35801
Houston Weight Loss in Houston, Texas
Houston Weight Loss offers a free consultation for potential weight loss candidates and has stellar reviews from previous patients. Located in Houston, Texas, this clinic actually offers two cheap bariatric surgery options.
Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy starts at $7,999 (includes $1000 rebate) with payment in the form of a money order or cashier’s check and includes the following:
- Physician and Surgery Fees
- Hospital Fees ($1000 rebate will be given)
- Pre-Surgery Labs
- Dietician Appointment
- 1 Year of Follow Up Visits
Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy starts at $8,999 with payment in the form of credit card, Care Credit, or partner financing company and includes the following:
- Physician and Surgery Fees
- Hospital Fees (No Rebate)
- Pre-Surgery Labs
- Dietician Appointment
- 1 Year of Follow Up Visits
As noted on Houston Weight Loss’s website, the above pricing does not include required psychological evaluation, medications, or vitamins that are essential in weight loss surgery.
Houston Weight Loss – Houston, Texas – $7,999
13323 Dotson Road
Houston, Texas 77070
Do I Medically Qualify for Gastric Sleeve?
A vast majority of bariatric centers throughout the country have the same medical qualifications for gastric sleeve; even the cheapest gastric sleeve surgery in USA clinics follow these guidelines.
It is important to keep in mind that restrictions most insurance companies put on weight loss surgery are not often equal to that of medical facilities. Especially for anyone trying to figure out how to lose 70 pounds or less, checking with a specific doctor will be the ultimate deciding factor on whether a patient qualifies for gastric sleeve.
A majority of clinics throughout the country require gastric sleeve candidates to meet the following qualifications:
- A BMI of 35 or higher
- A BMI of 30 to 34 with a history of failed weight loss attempts or a comorbidity such as high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, sleep apnea, etc.
- No addiction to drugs, alcohol, or nicotine
- Not a smoker
- Cannot be lactating, pregnant, or planning to become pregnant within two years
- Have a diagnosis of an inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, or certain psychological disorders
- Agrees to participate in pre-surgery psychological and dietary counseling
Should I Finance Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
Financing a gastric sleeve surgery is a personal decision that depends on each individual’s situation. As seen above, even the most inexpensive weight loss surgery in the US is at least $7,000, which is still a significant amount of money for many people.
So, financing may be a good option if the full amount isn’t affordable in a lump sum payment and may ultimately be how to manifest your dream body.
One thing many potential patients consider is the cost of being overweight or obese. In fact, one study in 2020 on the estimated medical cost of the obese shows that care can cost upwards of $4,000 more per year than those with a healthy BMI.6
Along with increased healthcare costs, those who suffer with obesity may also fall victim to lost wages and higher life insurance rates.
When considering whether or not to finance surgery, factoring in the above costs as well as money saved in food costs, which some patients report around $2,400 a year, could potentially allow weight loss surgery candidates to pay off a medical loan in less than 2 years.
Taking on debt for weight loss surgery is a personal choice and shouldn’t be taken lightly but continually struggling with health and weight loss consistency can be mentally and emotionally damaging, so financing a gastric sleeve self pay surgery could make lasting weight loss a reality for many individuals.
Taking Advantage of a Health Savings Account or Tax Deductions
In looking at financing and costs of VSG, using a Health Savings Account or deducting the cost of surgery and medication during tax time is a benefit the Internal Revenue Service gives bariatric patients.
Total cost of savings through this method could be up to $1,200 and can be taken advantage of by both self pay patients as well as those using insurance. Meeting with a certified public account can help weight loss candidates estimate their potential savings.
Hidden Costs When Seeking Affordable Gastric Sleeve Surgery in USA Clinics
Low cost gastric sleeve surgery in USA clinics doesn’t always cover every single charge associated with the procedure. When consulting with a bariatric physician, it is critical to ask what is covered in the quoted costs to make sure there are no surprises along the way.
The following list contains a majority of services that are charged to a patient regardless of whether it is insurance covered or self-pay bariatric surgery.
- Surgery Consultation
- Pre-Surgery Appointments (Including meeting with a nutritionist and psychologist)
- Hospital Stay
- Post-Surgery Pain Medication
- Follow Up Appointments
If using insurance, the policy may cover or partially cover some or all the above services and the subsequent quote will be for the remaining costs. For self-pay bariatric surgery, each clinic can choose which of the above costs are included and quoted to potential patients.
Is Gastric Sleeve Surgery Safe? Does Lower Cost = Higher Risk?
All surgeries come with certain dangers, so when it comes to an elective surgery, such as the gastric sleeve, it is important to compare risk versus reward when seeking out the cheapest gastric sleeve surgery in USA clinics.
Continually trying and failing at losing weight can be overwhelming and exhausting; but sticking with low calorie plans like the Dr. Nowzaradan Diet probably feels impossible, so weighing surgical options may be the next step.
Gastric sleeve surgery, as reported by most doctors, is a generally safe surgery, but does come with the following risks.8
Short-Term Risks of Gastric Sleeve Surgery
- Reactions to anesthesia or medication
- Stomach leaking
- Blood clots
Long-Term Risks of Gastric Sleeve Surgery
- Vitamin and nutrient deficiency
- Digestive issues
- Hair loss
While these potential cons of bariatric surgery could make many people question whether the surgery is worth it, when comparing them with the following severe risks of obesity, which can lead to death, many make the choice to have surgery.
Risks of Obesity
- Fatty Liver
- Type II Diabetes
- Sleep Apnea
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Attack
- Blood Clots
Is Choosing a Lower Cost Clinic for Surgery Okay or Safe?
When looking into a surgeon, patients may be concerned that a low cost gastric sleeve surgery might incur a higher risk of complications. This could be due to the belief that areas with a higher cost of living, such as Alaska, Maine, and New York, attract higher quality doctors.
While practices that charge a high price may attract big name doctors, studies show that the quality of care is often not defined by the cost of care.10 It is also important to consider that areas with a high cost of living (and subsequently higher costs for VSG surgery), involve higher costs for the doctors that practice in those locations.
Leasing an office suite or building in Nevada or Texas is monumentally less expensive than a comparable space in Delaware or Pennsylvania. Cost of living affects many facets of every genre of business, including healthcare. So, states with higher costs of living will likely have costlier hospital stays, higher anesthesia costs, and even pricier medications.
Doctors performing an affordable weight loss surgery may even be earning a similar income as doctors charging higher rates due to all the aforementioned costs. So, when narrowing down a quality surgeon, looking at their level of education, research papers (if applicable), track record and locating honest reviews will be more telling of their skill than the price of their services.
When trying to locate the cheapest gastric sleeve surgery in USA clinics, especially for those living in higher cost of living areas, it is prudent to verify insurance coverage details, consider surgeons in other states, and confirm whether or not there are any hidden fees along with the advertised or quoted price.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is VSG Better Than Gastric Bypass or Lap Band?
Gastric sleeve is less invasive than gastric bypass, but more invasive than Lap Band. The benefits of VSG is more reported weight loss than Lap Band and a faster recovery time than gastric bypass.
Is Gastric Sleeve Surgery in Mexico Safe?
Many weight loss surgery candidates choose to go to Mexico to have gastric sleeve surgery. While the cost is generally less expensive, the standards of care are not the same or as monitored as they are in the U.S. Post-surgical care and follow ups are non-existent due to the surgeon being in another country.
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2World map chart photo – Free Map Image on Unsplash. (2019, December 20). Unsplash. Retrieved July 13, 2023, from <https://unsplash.com/photos/BEF-7cpER3s>
3Chhabra, K., Fan, Z., Chao, G., Dimick, J., & Telem, D. (2020, Jan). Impact of Statewide Essential Health Benefits on Utilization of Bariatric Surgery. NCBI. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6954295/#R5>
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5A man in a surgical gown writing on a clipboard photo – Free Doctor. (2023, March 15). Unsplash. Retrieved July 13, 2023, from <https://unsplash.com/photos/PR-jlDkQd3Y>
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8Kheirvari, M., Dadkhah, N., Jaafarinejad, H., Farsimadan, M., Eshghjoo, S., Hosseini, S., & Anbara, T. (2020, February 29). The advantages and disadvantages of sleeve gastrectomy; clinical laboratory to bedside review. NCBI. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7052082/>
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10Roberts, E., Mehrotra, A., & McWilliams, J. (2018, May 1). High-Price And Low-Price Physician Practices Do Not Differ Significantly On Care Quality Or Efficiency. NCBI. Retrieved April 4, 2023, from <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5544918/>