After Surgery to Slim Down, the Bills Can Pile Up

by Lesley Alderman ,  New York Times | 2010-12-30

AFTER dieting unsuccessfully her entire life, Barbara Warnock-Morgan, 46, decided she needed to do something radical.

“I was the fat kid,” she said. “Over the years I yo-yo dieted my way up the scale. I’d lose 20 pounds, then gain back 30.”

The cycle was so insidious that by her early 40s, Ms. Warnock-Morgan, who lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter and works for a music company, was obese, with a body mass index over 40. (A B.M.I. of 18.5 to 24.9 is normal; over 30 is considered obese.)

In November 2009, she decided to have adjustable gastric banding, a form of bariatric surgery in which a silicone band is placed around the top portion of the stomach, restricting the amount of food a person can comfortably consume.

Bariatric surgery costs $15,000 to $30,000, depending on the procedure and the area of the country in which the patient lives. Ms. Warnock-Morgan was fortunate in many ways. Not only was her surgery successful (she has lost 127 pounds), but her insurance covered all the costs.