Cost of skin removal

There’s so much to celebrate after a serious weight loss journey—newfound health, confidence, and a dramatically different lifestyle. But even after working hard to shed all of that weight, pounds and pounds of heavy skin can stick around and cause both physical and psychological pain. Thankfully, excess skin removal surgery can eliminate 15 pounds or more of weight and help you conquer all of your weight loss goals. Below, find out how to get skin removal surgery covered by insurance, as well as other ideas to pay for the expensive procedure.

Create a free fundraiser

Contents

Facts to know about excess skin removal

  • Surgeons have been removing skin and fat since the turn of the century, while liposuction and muscle shaping were introduced in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • More than 55,000 body contouring surgeries were performed in 2016.
  • There has been nearly a 14% increase in the number of people getting lower body lifts from 2012 to 2017.
  • 5.8 million reconstructive surgeries were performed in 2018.
  • After an abdominoplasty or panniculectomy, you will need to stay in the hospital anywhere from one night to a week. You will not be able to do heavy lifting or play sports for about six weeks.
  • Qualified surgeons will not perform any type of body contouring surgery unless you have maintained a stable weight for at least three to six months.

How much does skin removal surgery cost?

There are quite a few factors that affect the cost of skin removal surgery, but the most common are geographic location, the experience level of the surgeon, and your specific needs. When it comes to skin removal surgery, also known as body contouring surgery, there are a number of different procedures you can choose from, all with different price tags.

An abdominoplasty is one of the most common types of body contouring surgeries, which removes the excess skin and fat from the abdominal area and tightens muscles. A panniculectomy, which only removes excess skin, is also a very common surgery people undergo after extreme weight loss.

Surgical procedure costs:

How much is skin removal surgery, exactly? These are the general baseline costs for the most common plastic surgeries for after weight loss, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons:

  • Panniculectomy: $8,000-$15,000
  • Lower body lift: $7,900
  • Upper arm lift: $3,500
  • Thigh lift: $4,500
  • Breast lift: $4,200

Other costs

  • Anesthesia fee
  • Facility and material costs
  • Prescription costs

How to pay for skin removal surgery: three ideas

Any type of surgery is never cheap, but there are several ways to save money, or even get your surgery paid for in full. Below are the top ways to pay for skin removal surgery.

1. Insurance

Understanding how to get skin removal surgery covered by insurance isn’t always straightforward. Not every insurance company will pay for this type of surgery, but it might be possible to get all or some of it covered if your doctor can make an argument that this surgery will improve your health and quality of life.

Talk to your doctor

You’ll need to prove that your surgery is medically necessary in order for your insurance company to pay for it, so you’ll want to first speak with your doctor. Begin documenting all the steps you’ve taken to overcome your medical issues so that your doctor can understand that surgery is truly a last resort.

Your doctor will need to provide a record that states your excess skin has caused skin rashes or skin ulcers, back problems, or is generally inhibiting you from participating in normal, daily activities.

Decide which type of surgery is best

Most insurance companies consider an abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, a cosmetic procedure and will not cover it. On the other hand, a panniculectomy is usually labeled as a reconstructive procedure, which insurance companies are more likely to pay for. Speak with your doctor about which type of surgery is best for your needs, taking into consideration what your insurance company is most likely to cover.

Work with your insurance company

Find out your summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) to understand if you’ve met your deductible or out-of-pocket maximum, and if your insurance will pay for all or a portion of the surgery. Have the correct insurance code for your surgical procedure handy so there’s no confusion about procedure you’re asking about.

2. Bundle surgeries and pay in cash

Even if your insurance company will pay for your surgery, it’s sometimes more cost-efficient to pay out of pocket if you have a high deductible plan. Paying in cash is also another way to save, as many hospitals and plastic surgery clinics offer small 5-10% cash discounts for paying in cash upfront. Many clinics also offer discounts if you get more than one procedure done at the same time.

3. Give crowdfunding a try

Thousands of people have turned to crowdfunding to get help paying for out of pocket medical expenses or to avoid medical bankruptcy. When insurance coverage fails or you need to raise funds quickly, crowdfunding can be a lifeline.

It’s natural to worry about the shame or embarrassment you might feel after sharing your weight loss story publicly and asking for financial support. But if you’ve worked hard to shed extra weight and live a healthier life, you’ll likely find that your family and friends will be excited to support you through this final leg of your weight loss journey.

These are just a few people who asked their networks to help them pay for skin removal surgery and received an outpouring of support:

Miss_itty_britty skin removal fund

At 23 years old, Brittany embarked on an incredible weight loss journey that changed her life. But after losing over 300 pounds, she was left with folds of extra skin that caused her pain, discomfort, and limited her ability to lead a fulfilling life. After her claims for insurance coverage were denied, Brittany turned to crowdfunding and raised over $11,500 to remove her excess skin.

Jesse’s excess skin removal surgery

Jesse weighed 700 pounds and hadn’t left his house in years when he came across a bodybuilding website that sparked something in him. He decided to change his life and lost nearly 400 pounds. The quick and dramatic weight loss left him with pounds of excess skin that caused pain when exercising and gave him serious rashes. Unable to afford the $20,000 surgery, Jesse launched an online fundraiser and smashed his goal, raising $20,755 for the life-changing procedure.

Find financial relief for weight loss surgery today

You’ve worked hard to lose weight and get healthy—and you deserve to feel confident and healthy in your new body. If you don’t know how to pay for skin removal surgery, GoFundMe can help. You can create a free fundraiser in minutes, and our sharing tools make it simple to reach out to your network. Sign up today and complete the final step of your weight loss journey.

Start a free fundraiser

How Much Does Excess Skin Removal Cost?

At Vanguard Aesthetic Plastic Surgery we commonly receive from our patients is in relation to how much excess skin surgery costs.

Many people suffer saggy skin after weight loss. Since the body can take a long time to adjust to its new weight, it’s natural to wonder “How much does it cost to remove extra skin?”

Skin removal cost varies based on a number of factors. The surgery is definitely worth it, but you should plan with the different factors in mind.

Let’s look at the elements that impact body contouring cost.

Surgeries Available

There are many different kinds of skin removal treatments, including:

  • Arm lift
  • Breast lift
  • Inner thigh lift
  • Outer thigh and butt lift
  • Tummy tuck

So, What Exactly Does Skin Removal Surgery Cost?

Each of these has a different cost. Costs depend mainly on the complexity of treating the area. However, according to Everyday Health, in 2018 the average of 30,000 breast lifts was $4,236; 9,300 arm lifts avereaged out to $3,574; and 8,000 thigh lifts cost on average $4,464.

As you may have guessed by now, epidermis removal costs are not fixed but, instead, they are based on calculating the total cost of each separate procedures performed on the parts of your body you wish to address. So if you want to know how much skin removal surgery is, you have to first determine where on your body you want to get rid of excess fat. You don’t have to have all areas of left over skin removed during the same surgical procedure either; meaning you can address the parts of your body you can afford to do first and spread the costs out over time. If achieving a better looking you is a matter of being able to afford it, you can always finance your fat removal procedure. Click here to learn about financing options.

Arm Lift Surgery Infographic

Amount of Excess Skin & Fat You Have

The need for skin removal can vary from minor to dramatic. Since body lift surgery is typically for those who’ve lost 30 percent to 50 percent of their peak weight, candidates usually have several inches of skin they wish to remove over multiple areas.

How Many Surgeries Are Done at Once?

It’s not unusual for candidates to pursue a tummy tuck and breast lift at the same time, or do inner and outer thighs at the same time. This may help accelerate recovery and offers the sense of having “gotten it over with,” too. Your surgeon will advise you on your options.

See also: What are the different types of tummy tucks I can have?

Diagnostic Tests & Post-Operative Medications

Depending on your health, it might be necessary for several diagnostic tests to be performed. After surgery, you may temporarily be placed on medication. In particular, pain medication might be needed if work was done on the breasts and tummy.

Your Surgeon’s Qualifications

When you are considering surgery, it’s important to choose the most qualified person for the job. The best surgeons in any area are likely to charge a premium. Likewise, they may have a waiting list. Be prepared to wait anywhere from weeks to a few months.

Where You Get Surgery

Prices are generally higher in large urban areas. Of course, a key issue is whether you will need to travel far to get care. Although skin removal can be performed as an outpatient procedure, a lengthy hotel stay will add some additional costs.

If Your Insurance Will Cover the Cost

Insurance typically only covers procedures deemed “medically necessary” as opposed to “cosmetic.” Though it might seem like skin removal is cosmetic, under rare circumstances it can be approved by some insurance. Ask your doctor for more information.

Schedule a Consultation Today

To schedule a free consultation, contact Vanguard Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We can help you determine if you are a good candidate and provide personalized pricing information.

I thought I would be happy when I lost the weight. But after going from 254 pounds to 140, and rocking my way from winded Zumba classes to bodybuilding competitions, I still wasn’t happy with my results.

Through healthy eating, exercise, and therapy, I’d worked so hard to lose 114 pounds, but my skin was still weighing me down. Extra flesh added inches to my waistline and covered up the six-pack that I’d chiseled out.

RELATED: How Getting Breast-Reduction Surgery Changed My Life for the Better

I also can’t overstate how uncomfortable it was: Every fun run felt like pounding the pavement without a sports bra. I got into pole-dancing fitness classes and became a part-time instructor. I loved teaching, but when I maneuvered my abdomen around the pole, my skin snagged and pulled. I named my tummy skin Carlos and joked that “Carlos is getting in the way again.”

That’s not to say that I didn’t have excess skin in places other than my stomach. But the skin around my inner thighs wasn’t that big of a deal to me, and I had made peace with it since it wasn’t holding me back.

Sayonara, Skin
A couple of years after losing all of the weight, my parents jumped in and offered to help me finance the skin-removal surgery that I wanted so badly. Getting the extra skin removed was always my plan, but the $10,000 price tag kept me from doing it sooner.

The reason it cost so much was because my insurance wouldn’t cover the surgery. Apparently, I didn’t have enough excess skin to be at risk of infection. My surgery was considered purely cosmetic. Mhm.

After two days, I was allowed to take off the wrap to shower. It was awful. Standing up straight pulled my newly tight skin, and I was so weak that I could barely keep from curling up in the fetal position.

After a week, I decided to go back to my desk job. But halfway through the day, I had to go home. Between the all-over pain and extreme fatigue, I couldn’t get anything done. (Plus, I had to bring my drainage bag with me.) I took the rest of the week off.

Three weeks after the surgery, I convinced my doctor to remove the drainage tube and bag. It felt good to have some freedom, but I took things slow and began walking on the treadmill.

Hello, Body!
The recovery process sucked, but the immediate results of the surgery were awesome. Even with the stitches, surgical tape, and swelling, I saw my ab muscles for the first time when I took that miserable shower. I realized that I even had that “V” cut below and to the sides your belly button. With 10 pounds of skin and tissue gone, I could see everything that I had worked hard to achieve.

It hasn’t even been six months since my surgery, but running is already so much more comfortable and enjoyable than it used to be. And I don’t have skin pulling on the pole during pole-dancing classes anymore!

For safety’s sake, I wear a sports compression garment around my abdomen when lifting heavy. It helps keep my body stable, and takes some of the strain off of my healing abdominal muscles.

When I’m in the gym, at work, or just walking down the street, I’m definitely standing taller. I finally feel at home in my own skin.

When Haze Atkin passed the 32kg (5st) mark on her weight-loss programme, something strange began happening to her skin. First it grew softer. Then it grew emptier. By the time she had shed her 64th kilo, her body had shrunk so much that her loose skin needed to be folded into her clothes. Now, when Haze sits, a “hovercraft” of skin skirts her seat. When she takes a bath, her spare skin floats. In bed, her husband Chris accidentally rests an elbow on it; he can’t always be sure where Haze ends. The edges of her have become mistakable.

To her children’s delight, Haze can wobble her skin and make it talk like a puppet. Sometimes her daughter holds out her hands like a set of scales and Haze places her stomach skin on them. She thinks it weighs a stone. It has become oddly plastic, so that Haze can gather it in her hands and stretch and shake it, fold and mould it. But the one thing she can never do with her skin is forget it.

Like many people with excess skin, Haze lost a lot of weight after bariatric surgery. In the 10 months after her gastric bypass – an operation the NHS has come to see as highly cost-effective – she shrank from 149kg (23.5st) to 70kg (11st). She met all her targets. Her surgeons called her a “model patient”. And yet, just when Haze should have felt she had achieved her goal, her skin held her back. The scales said she had reached the end of her journey, but the mirror told a different story.

Haze is one of the 9,325 UK patients who in 2013 underwent bariatric surgery on the NHS, according to statistics held by NHS Digital. The same year, NHS England reported that the price of keyhole bariatric surgery for diabetes patients with a BMI of 35, for instance, is recoverable in just 26 months. According to projections from the Department of Health, the cost to society and the economy of people being overweight and obese could increase to almost £50bn in 2050, so it is easy to see why bariatric procedures make financial sense. But is the surgery causing a different kind of health crisis? Is such massive weight loss – MWL, as healthcare professionals call it – solving one problem only to create a new one, a generation of weight-loss survivors tormented by anxiety and depression because they no longer fit their skin?

Haze has a simple message to the NHS. “You don’t just leave people half-done. Finish it.”

The NHS does perform some skin removal operations. But the only mention of skin removal in all Nice’s recommendations is that a multidisciplinary bariatric team provide “information on, or access to, plastic surgery (such as apronectomy) when appropriate” (an apronectomy is a mini tummy tuck to remove the “apron” of skin that hangs over the pubic area). This provision varies hugely by region. In theory, a patient needs to show that skin removal surgery is a health – rather than a cosmetic – intervention.

In practice, the local clinical commissioning groups, which commission NHS healthcare, rarely approve such applications – which is why crowdfunding websites are full of people who have lost massive amounts of weight and are desperate to remove their skin, even if it means posting explicit, naked or near-naked photographs that play to a sort of pornography of excess skin. Haze’s page has raised £332 of the £6,600 she needs for surgery. She applied to the NHS – she suffers from skin infections, anxiety and depression, and believes the extra weight exacerbates her fibromyalgia (she is registered disabled). But she was rejected.

Lisa Riley, who had skin surgery. Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/Rex/

So each week for the past four years she and Chris have laid aside £20 – every spare penny – towards the cost of the “fleur de lis” abdominoplasty on which Haze has set her heart. This double incision runs vertically and horizontally, and was part of the suite of operations carried out on the actor and TV presenter Lisa Riley in her documentary Lisa Riley’s Baggy Body Club. The fleur de lis leaves a wound so severe that Rob Winterton, the cosmetic surgeon who performed it on Riley, says it is “comparable to a 20 or 30% burn”.

But for Haze, the surgery is the only way out of an unbearable predicament. At 30, she finds her skin “so invasive, so mentally hard to deal with, every day I just want to cut it off myself. It invades my thoughts, my feelings, all the time. Every time I get dressed.”

“If you catch yourself in the mirror,” Chris interjects. “If I touch you wrong. If I roll on you. If I see you getting dressed.”

Haze’s skin is always on her mind – which is not, of course, where skin is meant to be. Her daily life has evolved to make dozens of minute accommodations. She must wash carefully, lying down and stretching her skin out in order to clean and dry it thoroughly. “Where the skin is folded, bacteria grows,” she says. Dressing is “a military operation. Everything is tucked away.” And her relationship, the way she and Chris interact, has changed too.

Haze has gone from one kind of person to another, and the speed of her transformation has caught both her and Chris by surprise. “You went from having a plus-size, curvy, full wife – which you never had a problem with – to suddenly this petite woman with hanging sacks of skin,” Haze says to Chris, who is seated at her side. “And it really threw you.”

“It was trying to remember who she is,” Chris replies. “Not mentally but physically. It’s like, are you sure it’s you?”

The pair have been married for 13 years. But the surgery, so hyper-efficient and cost-effective, has not given their emotions, their instincts, their bodies, time to adjust. “I’ll get there in the end,” Chris says. “It’s because the process is so quick. Very shocking.”

They had a small amount of savings, which Haze spent on a breast augmentation “to save my sanity” because she was so depressed by her new “paper bag” breasts. Even so, in their most intimate moments, Haze’s skin still comes between them. “If I’m on top and I lean forward,” she says, “my stomach gets there first.” She turns to Chris. “You literally hold it back,” she says, putting her hands at her narrow waist to demonstrate. “To try and make you feel better,” he nods, and they reach for each other’s hands.

Two further years of saving lie between Haze and Chris Atkin and the promised land of an operation so extensive that Winterton says it “puts two and a half feet of scar on a patient”. Providing, of course, that inflation does not outstrip them. But Paul Watling, 34, from Manchester, has barely a week to wait. Like Haze, he was rejected for the operation on the NHS “after months of psycho-evaluation”. He was trying to get along with his skin, to live with it, until last summer when he picked up a friend from hospital after body lift surgery.

The sight of his friend in his new skin made Paul see himself with unexpected clarity. At lunch with his mother and his girlfriend, Charlotte, “I turned around and said: ‘I need it.’ I just felt the time had come to put this part of my life to bed.”

We are talking in a breakout area of Manchester Metropolitan University where Paul works as a night-time duty manager for halls of residence. While students amble down the corridor, Paul’s voice quickens. “This is it! Something that has been a negative aspect of my life for all my life is banished for ever.”

Paul Watling: ‘I feel great. But I don’t look it. I look awful.’ Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

The “negative aspect” of Paul’s life began as a child with a tendency to overeat. At 22, he weighed 191kg (30st). He was offered a gastric bypass after doctors discovered a lung tumour (he was too fat to operate on) and – this was in 2005 – was promised that his excess skin would be removed on the NHS. However, by the time his weight had stabilised, he was turned down for the skin surgery. Depressed by what he saw in the mirror, the nipples that sagged far below his chest, the reams of spare stomach and undereye sacks that made him look permanently tired, Paul began to eat and drink heavily.

“I thought: ‘If I’m going to look this bad, I may as well fill it out and just be the fat guy again,’” he says.

Over the next 10 years his weight rose as he ate to fill up his skin; a gastric bypass is only a tool to help with weight loss, and depends on adjustments to diet and exercise to work. While his stomach expanded, Paul kept telling himself: “I’m nowhere near as bad as I was.” Then, last Christmas, he woke up after a binge and needed the bathroom. Looking down at the toilet bowl, he realised he couldn’t see what he was doing; his stomach was too large. “I thought, that’s not normal. I don’t remember that.”

He was staying at a friend’s house, and his friend’s bathroom contained a set of scales, something Paul hadn’t seen in a long time. He stepped on. “I was like: ‘Wow! This is insane!’” The scales said he weighed 162kg (25.5st). He found his friend in the kitchen. “I took my shirt off and said: ‘Take a photo.’ And I could see, in that photo, the 21-year-old me. I said: ‘This has to stop.’”

He researched nutrition and exercise plans and began to adjust his diet and lift weights. After 11 months, in an entirely self-directed effort, he had lost 64kg (10st).

“I feel better than I have ever felt in my life,” Paul says. “I feel great. But I don’t look it. I look awful.” While we talk, Paul’s right arm disappears beneath the table to shield his stomach from passersby.

“I’m happier now with the way people treat me – and it is a world of difference. But when I was bigger, I was happier with the way I looked. I was just a fat guy. That’s all I was. Yeah, people take the piss and are cruel but it’s there for everyone to see. This,” he says, looking down to where he can feel his skin pulling over his belt line, “is a hidden shame. Even the fat guys in the gym hang around in the dressing room. But I’m ashamed. I sneak into the family room and lock the door.”

Paul is troubled not only by his skin but also by the fact that it troubles him. “It’s a constant internal struggle for me. ‘Why are you spending 10 grand on this? It’s just appearance. Come on! You can rise above this.’ Of course, how you look shouldn’t matter,” he says, “but it does matter, because of the experiences you had when you were younger,” the years of verbal and physical abuse. He is a heavy metal fanand has always identified as an outsider, found comfort in it. But his skin has made him feel more privately misplaced, estranged in a way that is unfamiliar – he has become an outsider in his own body.

“I know I should be proud of my excess skin. It should be a battle scar … But the flip side, which is the stronger side that always wins, is: ‘Look at the state of you, you’re gross, you’re disgusting, you can’t let anyone see you …’ I don’t want to fit in with society, I want to fit in with myself.”

Paul is right that not everyone with excess skin feels as he does. Krystina Wright, 31, from Grendon in Warwickshire, lost 44kg (7st) with the help of Slimming World, and has a “pouch” at her stomach.

She knows she has undergone a transformation, and that her skin tells the story of it. Last year she was shortlisted for Slimming World’s woman of the year. Out dress shopping, she stood in the fitting room in her underwear, and her mum remarked, “‘You can see you’ve lost weight.’ But I never see that in the mirror,” Krystina says. “When I’m walking, around my legs is obviously looser than somebody who hasn’t lost weight but I just ignore it. I’m so happy with my journey that everything negative about my old self doesn’t seem to matter.”

Even in her contentment, however, Krystina still associates the experience of being fat with an “old self”, and it is this sense of disjuncture between an old self and a new self, a fat self and a thin self, that challenges people who have lost a transformative amount of weight.

Skin is a boundary between ourselves and the outside world. But for Haze Atkin, her skin, in its looseness, provides an untrue border; her skin seems to stop beyond her true edges. Instead, she strongly demarcates the line between old and new selves. When she was fat, she was Hayley. Two years ago, after weight loss, she changed her name legally. “It’s weird to see pictures of me before,” she says. “You can’t … I can’t tie those two people together.

“I’m very proud of Hayley. But that’s not me. There’s a real separation.” She picks up her stomach. “The thing that’s hanging on is this. Hayley’s skin.”

Elna Baker can relate to Haze’s divided self. The American writer and performer, 35, has documented her weight loss and skin removal surgery in blogs and podcasts such as This American Life. Between losing weight (nearly 50kg/8st) and losing the skin, she lived in the same sort of limbo as Haze – she thinks of it now as “a transitional place between fat and this idea of thin”.

Elna Baker: ‘I feel like I’m wearing a disguise.’ Photograph: PR

But Baker also says she has “travelled further along the timeline … I don’t know how to explain it. But there’s, like, a core thing that you’re still running from,” she says, speaking on the phone from New York. “And not to sound ungrateful for the means and the experience of getting to transform, but I also feel it’s more complicated than I expected, because it’s about identity and gender and worth. The thing that still saddens me is that I lived too long in the world as a fat woman to forget the way the world exists when you’re fat. So now I feel like I’m wearing a disguise, which allows me not to have to experience on a daily basis judgment, shame and hatred. But I also have all this muscle memory of that. So I sometimes feel confused – like I’m still experiencing a side-effect of a thing I no longer am.”

Baker had implants to return her breasts to their former size, a body lift, a thigh lift and a circumferential body lift – a cut around the circumference of the body. The scar draws a line between her top half and bottom half and has left her feeling, literally, “a little divided”.

Despite complications afterwards that meant that she had to pack her wounds with gauze, pushing wads into the holes left by burst stitches as if she were stuffing a soft toy, Baker is glad that she had the operations. But she has spent the past year using therapy, meditation and self-help to address the boundary between “old Elna” and “new Elna”. She hopes “the division is an illusion and it is possible to reach into the depths of me and meet the person and integrate it.”

Haze, meanwhile, hopes for the opposite, that surgery will not only make her proud of her body but sever her from the past. And Paul, only a week away from his operation, sometimes has to quiet the small voice that asks: “What if I go through this and I’m still not happy?” He reminds himself: “I’ve set this up in my mind. This is closure of a lifetime of not being happy in my body.”

All he, and Haze – and anyone, really – want is to be comfortable in their own skin.

  • Find more information on weight-loss surgery at wlsinfo.org.uk

Even after Jacqueline Adan lost 350 pounds, she knew her journey wasn’t over.

The excess skin spilling off her belly, legs, arms and breasts caused pain and made it difficult for her to see the results from her weight loss. She wondered how long she could live with the discomfort.

“I would take the loose skin over being 500 pounds, but I wasn’t living my best life,” the 32 year old from the San Francisco Bay area, told TODAY. “I went to my regular doctor complaining about the skin. It was causing issues not only physically, but also mentally.”

While plastic surgeons offer various procedures that remove the loose skin and lift parts of the body that sag after weight loss, insurance companies consider these procedures cosmetic and do not cover them. Adan knew she was on her own.

“No one was helping me,” she said.

Adan, who shares her experiences at Jacqueline’s Journey, met Dr. Joel Beck, a plastic surgeon at Bay Area Aesthetic Surgery, who knew various procedures could help her quality of life. Adan first had a lower body lift, which removed the skin around the stomach and back and lifted up her bottom and pubic area.

The difference was immediate.

“When I looked down and I didn’t see any of that skin on my stomach or I went to shower I didn’t have to lift it up,” she said. “I started hysterically crying.”

Recovery was painful but she knew it would benefit her health in the long.

“It was worth it,” she said.

What is skin removal surgery?

After people lose a lot of weight their skin often hangs off their body, giving a deflated look. The heavy folds of excess skin can cause health problems such as frequent infections and pain.

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

“You are going to have laxity and excess skin folds, which leads to functional issues such as the skin getting in the way during exercise and activities,” Dr. John Fischer, an assistant professor of surgery and director of the clinical research program at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, told TODAY. “It can lead to wound issues.”

While insurance normally doesn’t cover skin removal, it sometimes pays for a procedure called a panniculectomy, when doctors remove a fold of skin. While that might fix some of the problems, patients often dislike how it looks because it doesn’t include any contouring. Still, Fischer and other plastic surgeons try to obtain documentation of patient problems to submit to insurance for partial coverage.

“The insurance companies have very specific criteria,” Fischer said. “We have to advocate very, very loudly for patients.”

Doctors want most patients to be done losing weight before they perform skin removal procedures.

“You always want to wait until they get to their lowest point,” Beck told TODAY. “Three to six months after they plateau and they are not losing more weight, that is the time I would consider it.”

Patients with complications, such as uncontrolled diabetes or extremely high blood pressure, do not qualify for surgery, although patients who typically seek skin removal are healthy.

“Many of the patients who lose significant weight reverse many of their medical conditions and they are in a healthy state,” Dr. Michele Shermak, a plastic surgeon in the Baltimore area, told TODAY.

While patients who shed massive amounts of weight often need multiple procedures all over the body, some patients carry only extra skin around their midsection and can get a tummy tuck, or what’s also known as a mommy-makeover to tighten it.

“Most people come to get the abdomen done. It is often the first area they like to address,” Shermak said.

The mental impact of skin removal.

Adan’s reaction to the excess skin isn’t unusual.

“Patients will tell you they feel like they are living in someone else’s body and they haven’t completed their journey,” Dr. Alan Matarasso, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and clinical professor of surgery at Hofstra University, Northwell School of Medicine, told TODAY.

Lexi Reed, known as Fat Girl Fed Up on Instagram, lost 312 pounds and also coped with loose skin. It made exercising tough, but she had no idea how much pain it caused her until her husband, Danny, lifted it, and she felt immediate relief.

“I would be in tears. I would be in so much pain that I thought something was happening to me or I was dying,” the 28-year-old from Indiana told TODAY.

Last Halloween she had a 360-bottom lift. Her doctor removed seven pounds of skin from her stomach and back while lifting her butt and reconstructing her abs. She also had the sides of her legs lifted.

Recovery was challenging. The first time she sat up she sobbed. She had drains hanging off her and wore compression garments for weeks, all common during recovery from skin removal. But the pain was worth it.

“I felt all the emotions. For once in my life I could see my toes. For once in my life I could see my belly button. I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror,” she said.

In September she’s undergoing a 360 top-lift and admitted she’s “nervous but excited.”

While Adan had about seven procedures, her last one on her legs came with one serious potential complication from surgery — poor wound healing or “flap necrosis,” where the skin dies. She needed a skin graft to heal properly. Wound healing and fluid build up are the two most common complications from such procedures.

“Sometimes they get fluid collection under the skin,” Matarasso explained.

Even with a second surgery and longer healing time, Adan is happy with her surgeries. She worked with a lawyer to help navigate insurance coverage and reached a resolution.

“I don’t regret any of the decisions I made with skin removal,” she said. “Six to eight weeks of my life to recover is worth it for the rest of my life to be pain free.”

Body Contouring After Weight Loss

Your physical transformation after bariatric surgery or other major weight loss can be exhilarating. But your greatest cause for celebration may be that your health is being restored. As you begin to engage in physical activities you previously thought impossible, you may find it difficult to move freely as pockets and fold of extra skin are common after major weight loss, and may hamper your range of motion. At Kaiser Permanente locations in San Francisco, Sacramento, and throughout Northern California, body contouring after weight loss is performed to help women and men to put the finishing touches on their weight loss transformation and feel better in their own skin.

This webpage describes cosmetic procedures that your provider has determined are not reconstructive or medically indicated. For specific information about your covered health plan benefits, please see your Evidence of Coverage (EOC) or for Kaiser Permanente members, please contact Member Services at 1-800-464-4000.

About Body Contouring Surgery

When the body is recontoured using traditional cosmetic surgery, there is usually only one area that is targeted for reshaping. With major weight loss, however, it’s important to assess the entire body, as excess skin can sag and fold over the abdomen, breasts, back, hips, buttocks, pubic area, thighs, arms, and face. One or a combination of procedures may be appropriate for your unique body.

Your surgery may include abdominoplasty, a body lift, breast reduction, breast lift, thigh lift, buttock lift, and removal of skin and fat from the back and hips. An arm lift, and a facelift may also be recommended to complete your transformation. Together, you and your surgeon will determine what combination of procedures is right for your body. Depending on the procedures you choose, you may need to schedule multiple surgery dates.

What Is Treatment Like?

A body lift can remove excess skin and fat tissue, tighten your abdominal muscles, and recontour the remaining skin around your torso. It requires incisions, whose number and placement depend on your size and shape and the amount of tissue to be removed. It also requires insertion of a catheter and draining tubes, and special monitoring during your recovery. Your hospital stay may last one or more days.

Body Contouring
Before & After Photos

WARNING:

This feature contains nudity. Please click OK to confirm you are at least 18 years of age and are not offended by such material.

OK

Keep in mind that each patient is unique and your results may vary.

Case: 1 of 2 Previous Case: 1 of 2Before & After Case: 1 of 1

Case #103

View Case Details

Belt Lipectomy, Tummy Tuck, Lateral Side Lift, Butt Tuck Lift.

Keep in mind that each patient is unique and your results may vary.

Am I a Candidate?

In some cases, you may be unhappy with the excess skin, but the pockets or folds of extra skin might not be abnormal or might not impair any functions. In cases such as these, you may be a candidate for cosmetic procedures to help your skin fit your new shape. If your provider determines that the surgery is not medically indicated, then it is not a covered benefit and you will need to pay for the cost of the cosmetic surgery.

Those who have undergone major weight loss need to be treated with special care, especially since this weight loss often occurs in a relatively short period of time. The surgeons at Kaiser Permanente Cosmetic Services centers are experienced in not only your specific cosmetic procedure, but helping you through the many adjustments you’ll need to make after your surgery.

What Can I Expect Before and After Treatment?

Preparing for Treatment

During your consultation, you’ll need to inform your surgeon of your allergies, previous surgeries, and any medications, vitamins, diet supplements, and prescription or other drugs you’re taking. You’ll be given a full physical exam as well as blood tests.

It’s important for you to be close to your target weight before your surgery. If you lose significant weight after your surgery, excess skin may be a recurring problem. Your surgeon can help you decide on the timing of your surgery.

As your surgery date approaches, you’ll be given instructions about eating, drinking, taking medications, shaving, and bathing. If you smoke, your surgeon may ask you to quit prior to surgery to help your healing process and reduce your risk of complications.

Recovery

You may feel a certain amount of discomfort after you come out of anesthesia. The incision areas may be sore, bruised, and swollen. You’ll have various options to help alleviate any pain.

The urinary catheter may be removed as soon as one day after your procedure. Your sutures will be removed in stages as your recovery progresses. You’ll be given compression garments to wear according to your surgeon’s instructions. It may take 2 to 3 months for swelling to decrease and your body’s new shape to be revealed. During your recovery, you may weigh more because of the swelling.

Your surgeon will tell you how to walk and move to protect your sutures and to help reduce your risk of blood clots, especially in your legs. Your surgeon will also prescribe specific exercises, bathing procedures, and sleeping positions.

You may be able to resume your normal physical activities within a week or two of surgery, and sports and highly physical activities within 8 to 12 weeks. Most importantly, you’ll be asked to refrain from smoking. Not smoking is crucial for a successful healing and recovery process.

Body Contouring After Weight Loss Locations

No surgery is without risks. Your doctor will explain the risks and benefits of your proposed surgery and help you with your decision during your consultation.

Some risks include blood clots, fluid collecting under the skin around stitches, nerve damage, infection, and healing problems. Your surgeon will discuss with you these risks, as well as the general risks inherent in any surgical procedure.

With a body lift, scarring can be extensive. Your surgeon will inform you how much scarring you are likely to have. Many factors contribute to the depth, width, and color of scars, so be sure to ask your surgeon what you can do to aid the healing process.

Visit the individual procedure pages to learn more about the risks associated with abdominoplasty, breast reduction, breast lift, arm lift, and facelift.

I’m Interested! What’s My Next Step?

When you’re ready to learn more about body contouring procedures, contact your local Kaiser Permanente Cosmetic Services.

Body Contouring: Is It For You?

Not everyone who loses a lot of weight needs body-contouring surgery. Moreover, experts say, not everyone needs it for the entire body.

“A lot depends on your age, your genetics, level of sun exposure, how evenly the weight was distributed, and, more importantly, how you feel when you look in the mirror,” says Colon. “If you’re not unhappy about the way you look, you shouldn’t be made to feel you need body- contouring surgery.”

Those least likely to want or need the procedure, he says, are usually under age 40. “The majority of the patients I see for this surgery are over 40. It’s pretty hard to avoid the slackening effect of the skin after that age,” says Colon.

What can also make a difference, however, is where you lose the weight. While a loss of 50 pounds that was concentrated in your midsection might leave you with a lot of loose skin in that area, a 100-pound loss that was more evenly distributed on your body may have less of an effect on skin.

If you do end up with droopy, sagging skin and think there’s some other way around it, experts say, forget it.

“Short of surgery, there is really nothing that can help. Exercise won’t tighten it, and skin creams and lotions won’t do a thing to help,” says Nolan Karp, MD, associate professor of plastic surgery at New York University Medical Center.

But body contouring doesn’t come cheap. The average price of a full-body lift is around $30,000. Arm surgery runs in the range of $8,000, while inner thighs cost about $10,000 a pair. A breast lift and upper back surgery will set you back about $15,000, and a neck and face lift would add another $15,000 to the bill. (As you probably already guessed, insurance rarely covers any of it.)

When you add to this the need for four to six weeks of at-home recovery, for many, spandex can seem like the only viable option.

In an attempt to make things easier, many doctors use finance companies to help patients work out a kind of “plastic surgery mortgage” — a payment plan that allows you to reduce the size of your midsection without paying an arm and a leg up front.

Doctors say they also help patients rationalize the expenditure, frequently comparing it to the purchase of a new car.

“Many people wouldn’t hesitate to spend $30,000 for a new car. So I ask them, after all that hard work losing the weight, aren’t you worth the same $30,000 to look the way you want to look?” says Karp.

Is a Body Lift After Weight Loss Covered by Insurance? Plus 5 Other Questions You Have About Post-Weight Loss Body Contouring

Losing a significant amount of weight is a huge feat that deserves to be celebrated—congratulations on all of your hard work! While we’re sure you’re enjoying your success, it’s normal to feel a bit defeated if excess skin is keeping you from feeling confident at your new weight.

It’s common to experience areas of heavy, drooping skin after massive weight loss, which can make you feel both physically and emotionally uncomfortable. Many choose to have body lift surgery to restore a more normal contour to the body while reducing discomfort.

If you’ve been considering a body lift, read on for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive here at LJCSC.

Though heavy, excess skin left behind after weight loss can be considered a medical condition due to discomfort and increased risk for skin conditions, most insurance providers do not cover body lift surgery.

1. How much does body lift surgery cost in San Diego?

A lower body lift in San Diego typically costs between $14,000 – $17,000. It’s important to understand that the final cost of your post-weight loss surgery can vary greatly depending on how much skin needs to be removed, what areas are being lifted, and how many procedures you need.

There are a few different types of lifting procedures that weight loss patients typically benefit from, depending on where they have sagging skin. An arm lift ranges between $8,000 – $10,500, a thigh lift is typically $11,500 – $18,000, and a breast lift is $8,000 – $13,000.

The best way to get a more specific understanding of how much the post-weight loss skin lifting procedures you desire will cost is to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our board certified plastic surgeons. After they’ve listened to your concerns and you’ve worked out a plan together, we’ll prepare a detailed fee quote.

2. Is a body lift after weight loss covered by insurance?

Though heavy, excess skin left behind after weight loss can be considered a medical condition due to discomfort and increased risk for skin conditions, most insurance providers do not cover body lift surgery.

That being said, some insurance carriers do offer partial coverage of body lift expenses if you meet certain criteria. Below are examples of criteria cited by insurance companies:

  • You lost at least 100 pounds.
  • You have held a stable weight for at least six months.
  • You had bariatric surgery, and it was performed at least one year ago.
  • You have documented skin disorders resulting directly from excess skin.
  • Your primary physician has recommended a body lifting procedure.

Typically, breast reduction and panniculectomy (removal of “skin apron” on lower abdomen) are the most likely to be covered by insurance. However, these procedures may still be deemed unnecessary or may not provide all of the lifting required to achieve optimal results.

If insurance won’t help you cover the cost of your procedure, there are options for fitting procedures into your budget. There are a number of reputable, third-party plastic surgery financing companies that can help you make comfortable monthly payments.

3. How much weight do I need to lose before a body lift?

Before surgery, you should be at or near a stable, healthy body weight. If you intend to lose more weight and have your surgery too soon, it can impact your results, leaving you with more skin. Additionally, risks associated with having surgery of any kind are greatly increased if you are carrying too much excess weight.

A real LJCSC patient shows off their dramatic results after a body lift. See more body lift before and after photos “

e after a lower body lift?

Body lift surgery can be one of the most uncomfortable procedures because of the substantial amount of skin removal and lifting required. After surgery, you’ll likely be with an aftercare nurse for a day or two for expert, round-the-clock care. The nurse can stay with you at your home, or you may choose to go to an aftercare facility that caters to post-op patients. Due to special health issues, a small fraction of patients may need to spend a few days in the hospital immediately after surgery.

Once you’re back at home, your next phase of healing will begin. You’ll have drains to make sure there is no fluid buildup around your incisions and compression garments to keep you comfortable, minimize swelling, and protect your incisions. You will need dedicated help around the house for a week or so while you rest—overexertion can strain your incisions and cause pain, so it’s important to plan the necessary downtime to recover.

Brief periods of walking will be recommended to ensure proper circulation, though much of your time will be spent lying down with your favorite book or Netflix show. You’ll be prescribed pain medication to help keep you comfortable for the first week or two.Depending on your healing progress, stitches may be removed around two weeks after surgery, though lower body lift incisions can take four weeks or longer to fully heal.

Once your drains have been removed, moving around will be easier. Expect to be out of work for about three weeks, depending on the nature of your job.

Exercise will need to be avoided for at least 8 weeks (or until you get the green light from your surgeon). You can slowly start resuming other normal activities (light house work, driving, etc.) around the 4 – 6 week mark. It’s critical that you follow your surgeon’s instructions and wait until they give you the go-ahead to begin activities.

5. How long does swelling last after a body lift?

While you’ll start to see swelling going down after a few weeks (compression garments and your drains will help), it’s normal for some swelling to last for a few months before your final results begin to take shape.

We urge you to avoid supplements or products to reduce swelling unless your surgeon has specifically recommended them.

6. What will my scars look like after body lift surgery?

To achieve dramatic lifting, body lift incisions can be quite long. That being said, the appearance of the scars will fade over the course of about a year, and, when possible, incisions are placed where they can be hidden by clothing.

Typically, our body lift surgery patients are so thrilled with their results that the light scars are a small price to pay. To help your scars heal as nicely as possible and fade over time, it’s important to follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions to a T.

More body lift questions? We’re here to help.

If you have any questions about body lifts, want more information about surgery or recovery, or simply want to explore your options, please contact us today to schedule a free consult. Our board certified San Diego plastic surgeons have years of experience helping patients like you feel more comfortable and confident.

body contouring { cost

How Much Does Body Contouring Surgery Cost?

Many patients want to change the way that their bodies look. These procedures are generally referred to as “body contouring.” Sometimes by eliminating fat, other time by eliminating excess tissue, these procedures focus on giving patients bodies that will help them feel youthful, fit, and slim. For many patients, the cost of body contouring procedures can be a large point of concern. Sometimes, if they come after a bariatric procedure, these surgeries can be covered by medical insurance. But this isn’t always the case, so it’s important to discuss your options with your plastic surgeon.

Making it even more difficult to gage a price accurately, there are a wide variety of body contouring procedures available to patients today. Some of these are purely elective, while others have a reconstruction element to them. The most popular body contouring procedures are generally liposuction and tummy tuck procedures, though patients who have undergone a substantial weight loss will often choose to undergo a procedure known as “body contouring after weight loss”—the name is, of course, descriptive. The costs of these procedures vary, of course, but knowing the cost is certainly one way to get a feeling for whether a procedure might be right for you.

What is the Cost of a Liposuction Procedure?

Liposuction procedures are designed to remove unwanted areas of fat. A surgeon will make a small incision, insert a tiny tube called cannula, and, essentially “suck” out the unwanted fat. It’s worth noting that, while it is minimally invasive, this procedure can still require a significant recovery period. This procedure can be performed almost anywhere on the body where there is excess fat, making it difficult to accurately estimate the cost of the procedure. However, in general, the average cost of liposuction is around $3000.00.

The cost of this procedure will vary based on the following criteria:

  • Location of the liposuction procedure: Some areas of the body simply require more work than others
  • The desired final result: If you require several liposuction procedures to generate your desired final results, the cost will of course increase
  • Recovery time: Liposuction necessitates some time spent recovery, and this may impact your wages depending on your employer’s benefits package
  • Hospital Fees: If you have your procedure performed in a hospital or a surgical suite, there may be additional fees involved

To learn more about the costs of liposuction procedures, contact a highly qualified plastic surgeon and schedule a consultation.

What is the Cost of a Tummy Tuck Procedure?

Tummy tuck procedures are designed to reduce the amount of excess tissue around the belly area. This excess tissue can develop for a wide variety of reasons—mostly due to the fact that skin loses elasticity, so the rigors of life tend to easily stretch it out: pregnancy, weight gain, weight loss, and so on. Once it stretches, it won’t be bouncing back. No amount of diet or exercise can eliminate this excess skin, so surgeons use a technique by which they can eliminate the excess tissue and restore some rigidity to the abdomen. The cost of a tummy tuck procedure averages $5500.00.

As with other procedures, there are some factors that can cause the price of tummy tuck procedures to vary. Those factors may include:

  • Where you live: Different areas of the nation have different competitive rates for plastic surgery; this can greatly affect the overall cost of your tummy tuck procedure
  • Extent of the work: Just how much you want your tummy tuck to accomplish can impact the overall price
  • Recovery time: When it comes to tummy tuck procedures, it’s important to take recovery time seriously; this means taking adequate time off of work
  • Pain management: There are several options for pain management after a tummy tuck, including a pain pump or an injection of a numbing agent, each of which has its own associated cost
  • Hospital fees: Because tummy tuck procedures are performed in a hospital setting, these fees can greatly impact your overall cost
  • Anesthesia: As with many plastic surgery procedures, anesthesia costs are usually additional

To learn more about tummy tuck procedures, be sure to check out our extensive library of articles.

What is the Cost of a Body Contouring After Weight Loss Procedure?

Body contouring after a massive weight loss can be an expensive procedure. Some estimates have the costs of body contouring after weight loss at nearly $30,000. This is, of course, a highly variable number. And, in some cases, medical insurance will cover the cost of a body lift after a massive weight loss, especially if your insurance covered the bariatric surgery in the first place.

Perhaps much more so than other procedures, there are some variables that will affect the overall cost of body contouring after weight loss procedures. Those variables include the following:

  • The extent of the procedure: body lift procedures can cover a wide area, from legs to arms to the waist and the rest of the body; how much surface area your body lift covers will greatly impact the overall cost
  • Hospital time: Many body lift procedures require extended hospital time (a day or two), and there can be an additional cost because of this
  • Anesthesia: Body lift procedures are performed under general anesthesia, and this can mean additional costs
  • Regional variability: Some areas have lower surgery costs than others

To find out more about the costs of your body lift procedure, you should consult with your plastic surgeon.

There Are Affordable Body Contouring Options

Plastic and cosmetic surgeons will often make financing options available to body contouring patients. It’s important to discuss all of your body contouring options with your plastic surgeon during your consultation and to keep the lines of communication open throughout the process.

To learn more about these procedures, consider looking through our extensive body contouring article collection.

One Fixed Price

One fixed price for weight loss surgery

At OClinic we are very upfront about exactly how much your treatment will cost with absolutely no hidden extras. The cost of treatment will depend on factors such as private health insurance coverage and whether your surgery is primary (no prior bariatric surgery) or revisional surgery.

We will provide you with a full written quotation so you know exactly where you stand. That’s our promise to you.

Additionally, to eliminate cost as a factor in deciding which procedure is right for you, our Gastric Band, Gastric Sleeve and Gastric Bypass procedures are all charged at exactly the same rate.

This once off, all-inclusive fee covers your surgeon, assistant surgeon, anaesthetist’s fee, and importantly our highly regarded comprehensive aftercare program, including all the necessary dietary, medical and psychological support from our highly experienced team to help you reach your goal weight.

The only other cost under normal circumstances would be your health fund excess. You will not be charged further costs from OClinic. We pride ourselves on being upfront and transparent. And, if you don’t have insurance, don’t worry, we can still help.

Cost & Insurance

SECTION SUMMARY:

  • Your cost with medical insurance: $2,800 – $7,000 AUD
  • Your cost without Insurance: $12,000 to $18,000 AUD
  • You may be able to use superannuation benefits to pay
  • Loans & Tax Savings: Usually available

This following section will cover all the cost, insurance, and financing information you’ll need to make an informed decision about weight loss surgery in Australia.

Your Total Out of Pocket Costs with or without Private Insurance

Your total out of pocket costs will likely fall in the following ranges:

  • With Private Insurance: $2,800 – $7,000 after Medicare rebates
  • Without Private Insurance: $12,000 – $18,000 after Medicare rebates

The final amount will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Initial surgeon consultation fees (between $100 and $200, a portion for which you can claim a Medicare rebate)
  • Type of surgery chosen
  • Surgeon’s fees
  • Surgical Assistant fees
  • Hospital fees
  • Anaesthetist’s fees
  • Medications prescribed after surgery

Following are surgery-specific ranges currently charged throughout Australia:

  • Gastric band surgery cost Australia (Lap-Band):
    • With private insurance: $2,500 to $5,500 not including Medicare rebates
    • Without private insurance: $10,000 to $16,000 not including Medicare rebates
  • Gastric bypass surgery cost Australia:
    • With private insurance: $4,000 to $6,000 not including Medicare rebates
    • Without private insurance: $16,000 to $18,000 not including Medicare rebates
  • Gastric sleeve surgery cost Australia:
    • With private insurance: $4,000 to $6,000 not including Medicare rebates
    • Without private insurance: $16,000 to $18,000 not including Medicare rebates
  • Gastric balloon cost Australia:
    • Without private insurance: $5,825 average (insurance typically will not cover the procedure but may cover the gastroscopy )

Talk with a local qualified surgeon for a more detailed quote. Be sure to ask whether there will be an added charge if additional procedures are required during your surgery.

Private Insurance for Bariatric Surgery in Australia

Private insurance in Australia usually covers bariatric surgery, although you will still have out of pocket fees over and above what the insurance companies cover (between $1,700 and $5,300 after Medicare rebates).

Use the following interactive tool to see the average out of pocket costs for gastric bypass, gastric banding (Lap-Band), and gastric sleeve surgery in your state/territory…

(NOTE: All territories with data are classified as “low cost” because compared to other countries like the United States, most patients have private insurance and therefore pay much lower out of pocket costs)

  • 2015

Tap here to expand a table that summarizes the above data.

Click the arrows to see more columns

Swipe Left/Right to View More Columns

Region Procedure Average Cost
NEW SOUTH WALES Gastric Bypass $4,500
NEW SOUTH WALES Gastric Sleeve $5,225
NEW SOUTH WALES Lap-Band $4,750
NEW SOUTH WALES surgeons surveyed are located in Sydney
QUEENSLAND Gastric Bypass $5,246
QUEENSLAND Gastric Sleeve $4,388
QUEENSLAND Lap-Band $4,500
QUEENSLAND surgeons surveyed are located in Brisbane and Gold Coast
SOUTH AUSTRALIA Gastric Bypass $3,250
SOUTH AUSTRALIA Gastric Sleeve $3,025
SOUTH AUSTRALIA Lap-Band $2,917
SOUTH AUSTRALIA surgeons surveyed are located in Adelaide and Barossa Valley
TASMANIA Lap-Band $1,700
TASMANIA surgeons surveyed are located in Hobart
VICTORIA Gastric Bypass $5,160
VICTORIA Gastric Sleeve $4,672
VICTORIA Lap-Band $4,129
VICTORIA surgeons surveyed are located in Melbourne
WESTERN AUSTRALIA Gastric Sleeve $3,500
WESTERN AUSTRALIA Lap-Band $2,200
WESTERN AUSTRALIA surgeons surveyed are located in Perth

Since obesity is considered a pre-existing condition, you will probably have to wait 12 months between joining a health fund and getting approved for surgery.

Note that many surgeons will not perform any surgery other than gastric banding (Lap-Band) if you do not have private insurance.

To get the specific coverage information and your out of pocket costs from your health fund, contact them directly and provide the following Medicare item numbers:

  • Gastric banding – Item 31569
  • Gastric bypass – Item 31572
  • Gastric sleeve (sleeve gastrectomy) – Item 31575
  • Duodenal switch – Item 31581
  • Reversal of Gastric Banding/Lap-Band (removal or replacement of gastric band) – Item 31584
  • Intragastric balloon – There is no item number specifically for the balloon, but you can provide the number for gastroscopy since they may pay for that portion of the treatment – Item 30473

You can also contact your local qualified surgeon for help understanding total costs and how insurance will apply.

Medicare Reimbursement

Medicare will provide some reimbursement for the procedures listed below, although the rebate amount will still leave the majority of costs up to you and your private insurance.

To determine your rebate amount, Medicare applies a set rate to each covered procedure (that is much lower than the actual surgery costs), then they give you a rebate of 75% of that set rate.

and type in the following Item Numbers for current reimbursement levels for each procedure:

  • Gastric banding – Medicare Benefits Schedule – Item 31569
  • Gastric bypass – Medicare Benefits Schedule – Item 31572
  • Gastric sleeve (sleeve gastrectomy) – Medicare Benefits Schedule – Item 31575
  • Duodenal switch – Medicare Benefits Schedule – Item 31581
  • Reversal of Gastric Banding/Lap-Band (removal or replacement of gastric band) – Medicare Benefits Schedule – Item 31584

If you need help determining Medicare rebate amounts, talk with your local surgeon.

Accessing Superannuation Benefits for Weight Loss Surgery Australia

The Department of Human Services (DHS) will consider the early release of your superannuation funds on what they call “specified compassionate grounds” for a medical treatment that:

  1. Treats a life-threatening illness
  2. Alleviates acute or chronic pain

Obesity may fall under one or both of these categories. And since weight loss surgery is recognized as an effective medical treatment for obesity, the DHS may agree to an early release of your funds to help with your surgery payment.

Personal Finance Bariatric Surgery Australia

Financing is usually available for bariatric surgery in Australia either directly through your surgeon (payment plan) or through a third party lender.

The most commonly recommended third party lender in Australia is Mac Credit. Their plan maximums easily cover all of the costs associated with any weight loss surgery procedure, and their policy is to process all applications within 24 hours of receiving all requested information. .

GE’s CareCredit Australia used to be recommended by surgeons (and is still listed on some practices’ websites) but it is no longer an option. GE’s CareCredit Australia website suggests using Gem Visa’s interest free credit card instead. .

For other ideas, see our Financing Bariatric Surgery page.

Tax Offset for Weight Loss Surgery Australia

If your out of pocket expenses for bariatric surgery (and all other net medical expenses) are over the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) threshold, you can claim an offset on your tax return.

According to the ATO…

“To claim the net medical expenses tax offset in your tax return, you will need to know the total medical expenses you incurred for yourself and your dependants. You then deduct any refunds from Medicare, your health fund or any other reimbursements that relate to those expenses received during the financial year.”

Weight Loss Solutions

One of the risks of this sort of surgery, often not listed in the usual complications, is the lack of education and understanding of both the preoperative preparation and the post-operative management of your lifestyle and dietary habits. We have a full time dietician at LapSurgery to educate and supervise your weight loss journey. We are also very aware that years of frustration with your weight problems and some of the prejudice you will have faced about your weight can have an effect on your mental well-being and so all patients are seen initially by our counsellor as part of the assessment. Follow up counselling is available should you wish.

Risks Common to All Types of Surgery

The following are the commonest of the possible complications but please note that this is not a comprehensive list of possible complications but does cover most events.

The Risk of the Anaesthetic.

Anaesthetic risks are extremely low because when you come to your operation any conditions which might increase your anaesthetic risk such as high blood pressure, diabetes or sleep apnoea will have been brought under control. All of our anaesthetists are experienced with dealing with the specific problems of patients with excess weight and have full access to all of the tests and information gathered during your preoperative assessment.

In any type of surgery the following risks can occur:-

Bleeding.

Although uncommon, bleeding can occur during an otherwise routine operation and could require blood transfusion and possibly abandoning the laparoscopic (keyhole) approach and require a major incision in the abdomen. Occasionally, after a routine operation, bleeding can commence some hours after an operation and require a return to the operating theatre.

Infections.

Again these are uncommon with laparoscopic surgery, but occasionally one of the small keyhole wounds can become infected and require antibiotics or drainage. Uncommonly, an infection inside the abdominal cavity or the chest can occur.

Damage to Other Organs.

Although uncommon, during laparoscopic surgery it is possible to inadvertently damage another organ such as the spleen or the bowel. Normally this can be diagnosed and repaired during the operation but very rarely this damage may not be obvious until some hours or even days after the procedure and will then require appropriate management.

Conversion to Open Operation.

Rarely, it is not possible to complete an operation with keyhole surgery and a full abdominal incision may be necessary. This is more likely to be the case if you have had previous surgery on your stomach such as a gastric band or a gastric stapling operation.

Blood Clots to the Legs or Lung (Pulmonary Embolus)

Blood clots to the legs or the lungs are a very serious complication. At LapSurgery we use the maximum protection against this occurring. Shortly before the operation you will be given a blood thinning injection and have stockings placed on your legs. As well is that a further device will be placed on your legs which keeps pumping blood through your legs whilst you’re asleep to minimise the chance of a clot forming whilst you are on the operating table.

Using these precautions and early mobilisation after the surgery that is possible with the keyhole operation, these complications have been extremely rare in our patients.

Complications Specific to the Bypass Operation.

Complications in the First Couple of Weeks.

The major risk in the first two weeks is that the join of the small bowel to the stomach does not heal properly and gastric fluid can leak into the abdominal cavity causing peritonitis. This occurs in less than one in 100 operations in people who have not had previous gastric surgery. However in people who have had a gastric band or a gastric stapling operation in the past the chance of a leak is higher and must be fully discussed with your surgeon before going ahead.

Should a leak occur, this is a very major complication which may well involve further surgery even including a major abdominal incision rather than keyhole surgery.

Hospital stay in this event could stretch into some weeks and involve a stay in the intensive care unit. Exactly how we deal with this complication can vary from person to person but one way or another the leak will seal and you should make a full recovery and still achieve very good results.

Complications Occurring Weeks, Months or Years after the Operation.
Narrowing of the join between the small bowel and the stomach.

Occasionally, the join between the upper part of the stomach and the small bowel can narrow down and cause difficulty swallowing. This is easily fixed with a gastroscopy and dilatation performed under sedation with only a couple of hours in the hospital. Usually only occurs in the first few weeks after the operation, not later on.

Dumping syndrome.

This can be an annoying side-effect particularly in the first two or three months after the operation. After eating, you may feel a flushing of the face and some dizziness and you may want to lie down. This doesn’t last very long but sometimes a couple of hours later your blood sugar levels can drop and you may need some barley sugar or a sugar drink. Later on if you are getting dumping it’s probably because you are eating too quickly or eating inappropriate foods. If this is happening more than occasionally, keeping a food record and a visit to our dietician should get things back to normal very quickly.

Internal Hernias.

When we rearrange parts of the small bowel for the gastric bypass there are two places where we create a “hole” through which part of the small bowel can get stuck. This can cause intermittent severe abdominal pain or even a complete blockage of the bowel. It is not always easy to diagnose and should always be considered if you have an episode of severe abdominal pain even some years after the operation. We are now very conscious of this possibility and part of every operation involves closing the two holes where the small bowel can get stuck. Even so there remains a small possibility that this could happen in the future. Surgery would probably be required and may not be able to be done with keyhole surgery. The chance of this happening is less than 5% for the rest of your life.

An Ulcer at the Join of the Small Bowel and the Upper Gastric Pouch (Anastomotic Ulcer)

This is an uncommon condition and usually can be fixed with acid reducing tablets and some variation to diet.

Weight gain.

Unfortunately a small number of patients will either not lose the expected amount of weight or will at a later date put some of the weight back on. It is vital that you understand that the bypass is a tool to help keep your weight down. It is not a procedure which can protect you forever from putting some of the weight back on. You must realise that you have a genetic predisposition to putting on weight and that long-term attention to the principles we will have taught you are essential to keep the weight off. Long-term follow-up, which we provide at LapSurgery, is absolutely essential to your long-term success. If there is any tendency to put weight back on you must see us immediately so that we can help you to reverse any weight gain. Unfortunately, some people feel they have failed if they start to put any weight back on and feel too embarrassed to come back and see us. The more weight you put on before seeking help, the more difficult it will be to get the weight off. We will never make you feel embarrassed about any weight gain; we are here to help you.

Vitamin deficiency.

Following weight loss surgery each patient has the potential of vitamin deficiency and so LapSurgery Australia recommend to all patients that they have a regular daily multivitamen in order to reduce the risks of other medical conditions such as osteoporosis, thiamine deficiency along with many other conditions. More information is given to patients at the time of consultation.

Conclusion.

What you have read above is a summary of the operation of gastric bypass. This is not sufficient information in itself and every aspect of the bypass, the preparation for surgery and the possible complications are always specific to an individual and must be discussed at length with your surgeon.

We look forward to helping you.

5 ways to manage excess skin

Average cost: From less than $10 for pharmacy brands through to hundreds of dollars for high-end brands.

4. Non-surgical procedures

Laser, intense pulsed light (IPL), radio frequency and ultrasound skin-tightening treatments all stimulate the production of collagen – which plumps and tightens the skin – by heating or destroying tissue in the epidermis and dermis. Recovery time is generally minimal, but the procedures aren’t cheap and they’re not covered by Medicare.

“For patients who have a small amount of skin laxity that isn’t worth having surgery for, these treatments can be worth considering,” says Dr Savundra. “But I’ve had patients spend thousands on them without getting the results they wanted.”

Dr Bartone also cautions against expecting a dramatic change. “The amount of tightening varies significantly from person to person,” he says. “These procedures may have a role to play in terms of toning up some of the skin, but not in the reduction of severe skin excess.”

Average cost: Costs vary depending on the type of treatment, the number of sessions and the size of the area you’re targeting, but expect to pay anywhere between $1000 to $5000.

5. Surgery

For people who have significant amounts of loose skin, surgery is the only fool-proof way to get rid of it for good. “Medicare and private health insurance cover surgical procedures for the removal of excess skin if you’ve lost a minimum of five BMI (body mass index) units,” says Dr Savundra. “For a 165cm female, that means going from 90kg to 78kg. To qualify, Medicare also requires that you have chronic skin problems. But you’ll still have some out-of-pocket expenses.”

The most common procedures are the abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck”; the body lift (removal of skin from the lower abdomen, hips, outer upper thighs and upper buttocks); thigh lift; arm lift and breast lift. “People will often do one or two areas at once and come back later to do more,” says Dr Savundra. “If you have a problem in one place, you often have a problem in others too.”

But before you start planning your extreme makeover, remember these are significant surgeries that will require time off work and your regular activities. “For an abdominoplasty, expect to stay in hospital for one to five days, take a week off driving, two weeks off sedentary work like an office job, six weeks off manual work and three months off exercise. It takes some planning,” says Dr Savundra.

You should also expect substantial scarring. “But it’s very uncommon for a patient to wish they hadn’t had the surgery because of the scars,” says Dr Savundra. “I’ve never heard that before – it’s generally a high-satisfaction surgery.”

Average cost: A tummy tuck costs between $6000 to $10,000, depending on whether your private health insurance covers the hospital fees. You may be eligible for a Medicare rebate of $400 if you meet conditions. An arm lift costs between $5000 to $10,000 (with a possible $400 Medicare rebate). A body lift can set you back nearly $20,000. Some clinics can charge a lot more so shop around, but make sure you use a reputable clinic. Ask about the surgeon’s qualifications, find out how long they have been doing the procedures and ask to see recent examples of their work.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *