Lap Band Myths: The Truth About the Procedure

The quest to lose weight and get healthier isn’t easy for everyone. Sometimes medical intervention is necessary to help those pounds come off and stay off. Surgical procedures have been proven to be very helpful in this arena, often enabling those who have been incapable of losing weight to drop large percentages of body fat. For those looking for a reversible option, the lap band procedure is a popular choice. Myths about this procedure, however, have some not so sure if the option is worth pursuing.

The lap band procedure involves the placement of an adjustable band around the top portion of the stomach. This band essentially reduces stomach capacity, making it easier for people to eat smaller amounts. Fully reversible, the procedure is a sound option for those who would prefer to avoid permanent alteration of their bodies.

Here are some of the common myths surrounding this procedure and the facts to bust them:

Lap Band is a dangerous option
Yes, all surgeries have their share of risks. The lap band is no different in this regard. Even so, there is a very low chance of complications for this procedure, especially when compared to more involved weight loss surgeries, such as the gastric bypass. Complications that do arise are often easy to resolve.

The surgery prevents pregnancy.
This is simply not true. Women with lap bands in place can become pregnant and may safely do so. The truth is, however, that most doctors prefer women to wait until about two years after surgery to do so since the bulk of weight loss will occur in this procedure.

Quality of life drops
This is also simply not true. While the procedure will require lifestyle adjustments, the side effects tend to be lower than with other forms of weight loss surgery.

People who are severely obese will find surgical weight loss options may offer the help they need to lose weight once and for all. To find out more, consult with a reputable bariatric surgeon.

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Using Your FSA to Pay for Weight Loss Surgery

A flexible spending account (FSA) is a tax-exempt financial account that can be set up through your employer to help cover the cost of medical co-lays, prescriptions and medical procedures. If your employer offers a flexible spending plan, you can set aside up to $2,500 of pretax income to use toward medical, dental and vision expenses.

Does FSA cover weight loss surgery?
Your health FSA will cover a wide variety of eligible expenses, depending on the exact nature of your plan. Under the standard health FSA, bariatric surgery such as Lap-Band and gastric bypass are covered, assuming you have appropriate documentation by a physician recommending the surgery as treatment for a medical condition.

Changes coming to FSA in 2014
Over the years, FSA rules and guidelines have changed, and 2014 is no exception. The most significant change to the FSA guidelines effective in 2014 is clarification to the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule.

Under previous guidelines, any remaining funds in your FSA account could not be rolled over to the next year — so what wasn’t used during the coverage year was lost. In 2008, a modification was made to this rule allowing employers to offer a “grace” period that runs through March 15 of the following year.

Under the new rule, if your employer does not currently offer a grace period, you can carry up to $500 of unused funds with you into the next year. If your employer has filed necessary paperwork and amendments, you may apply up to $500 remaining funds from 2013 to the 2014 coverage year. That carryover amount does not count against your $2,500 limit for 2014. Essentially, you have an extra $500 to use in 2014.

Covering the cost of weight loss surgery
The Nicholson Clinic accepts all major insurance plans.  Bariatric procedures are typically covered by insurance companies, providing the patient meets insurance requirements. These requirements are often a body mass index (BMI) of 35 with underlying health conditions, or a BMI of 40+ with no underlying health conditions.  If your insurance covers the cost of your weight loss surgery, you will be responsible for deductibles and co-pays.

Providing your surgery is considered medically necessary, you may apply health FSA funds to your out-of-pocket costs, making bariatric surgery even more affordable.

We are committed to helping every patient get the weight loss surgery they need — no exceptions. We offer flexible payment plans with monthly payments as low as $236.

If you are considering bariatric surgery, but are concerned about the cost, we have patient care advocates on staff to help you manage the process, whether you use insurance or choose to pay for the surgery yourself.  

The statements above are general rules regarding flexible spending accounts. Talk to your employer to determine whether or not bariatric surgery is considered an eligible expense under your flexible spending plan.