Choosing to undergo surgery is a big decision. It means time off work to recover, a new lifestyle, and surgery is expensive. Sometimes, it's difficult to make those big decisions and wonder if it will all be worth it in the long run. A 2019 meta-analysis (a review of lots of studies) sought to determine whether bariatric surgery was a cost-saving procedure over the lifetime of the patient, in comparison with no surgery. A group of researchers, published in Obesity Reviews Journal asked themselves the same question when they reviewed over two decades of published peer-reviewed journal articles relating to bariatric surgery. They specifically looked at direct costs of surgery versus the costs of complications from obesity, and looked more generally at research that addressed indirect costs.
When considering direct costs, researchers are looking at costs of procedures, surgeries, medication, loss of work due to sick time, early retirement/inability to work, and the cost of healthcare for bariatric patients versus non-treated obesity patients. The researchers found, that even when indirect costs are not considered (the research is lacking on indirect costs), bariatric surgery is cost-saving overall than not undergoing surgery.
The biggest savings can be found in medication and health care related to heart disease and diabetes. Bariatric patients need less medication and health care related to these medical conditions that are often more easily managed after surgery. "Research suggests that shorter term costs inclusive of the initial procedure shift to cost savings in the longer term particularly when indirect costs are included through a broader societal perspective. Medication costs for obesity-related comorbidities are substantially reduced in the shorter term" (Xia, et all, 2019). In addition, bariatric patients require fewer sick days and a reduced necessity in disability payments.
Making big decisions regarding health and wellness can be difficult. It can be hard to consider the costs, the time needed to recover, the changes in lifestyle in preparation and post-surgery. But, for so many, the decision is absolutely worth the costs. Not only can you live a more functional and healthy lifestyle but--according to research--it can save you some money in the long run too.
Source: Xia, Q, Campbell, JA, Ahmad, H, Si, L, de Graaff, B, Palmer, AJ. Bariatric surgery is a cost-saving treatment for obesity—A comprehensive meta-analysis and updated systematic review of health economic evaluations of bariatric surgery. Obesity Reviews. 2020; 21:e12932. https://doi-org.libproxy.library.unt.edu/10.1111/obr.12932