New Research: Trends In U.S. Weight-Loss Surgery

- Healthgrades analysis of more than 201,800 bariatric surgeries finds complication rates vary widely between hospitals -

Jul 31, 2012, 00:01 ET from Healthgrades

DENVER, July 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Complication rates are relatively low for U.S. bariatric surgery patients at 5.87% but vary widely from hospital to hospital, according to a new report released today by Healthgrades, the leading provider of information to help consumers make an informed decision about a physician or hospital.

Bariatric surgery – or weight-loss surgery – treats severe obesity in people for whom medically supervised diet, exercise, and medication programs have failed. Available in different procedure types and approaches, bariatric surgery has been shown to reverse common complications of obesity, including type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and silent killers like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  It can also improve quality of life and overall health, reduce future healthcare costs, and reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, and early death.

To help people considering weight-loss surgery better understand their options, Healthgrades analyzed the number of procedures, surgery charges by state, procedure types, and complication rates from bariatric surgeries performed at 478 hospitals across 19 states from 2008 through 2010. Findings are published in "Choosing Bariatric Surgery to Improve Overall Health: 2012 Healthgrades Trend Report," which also identifies 108 hospitals that stand out as 5-star performers for bariatric surgery.

See the full report here:

Among the key findings:

Bariatric surgery by the numbers:

  • A total of 201,821 bariatric inpatient surgeries were performed during the three years analyzed.
  • 96.29% were covered by commercial or government insurance; 3.71% were paid for by patients.
  • Hospitals in California, New York and Texas performed the most inpatient bariatric procedures. The fewest procedures were performed in Iowa, Utah and Rhode Island which collectively comprised less than 3%.

Complication rates varied significantly by hospital, but were generally the same across all procedure types  

  • From 2008-2010, the type of procedure a patient underwent did not make the chance of complication more or less likely.
  • Patients were 72.26% less likely to experience in-hospital complications at 5-star hospitals than at 1-star hospitals.
  • 5,788 patients could have potentially avoided a major in-hospital complication if all hospitals performed at the level of 5-star hospitals.

Surgery charges varied widely by state and by quality of hospital

  • California was the most expensive state for bariatric surgery, with an average charge of $57,280 per patient.
  • Conversely, Maryland was the least expensive state, with an average charge of $15,896.
  • Charges for a bariatric procedure at a 5-star hospital were $3,189 less on average than at a 1-star hospital.

"The striking variations we found in surgery charges and complication rates underscore the importance of being an informed consumer as you're considering bariatric surgery," said Dr. Arshad Rahim, Group Vice President of Accelerated Clinical Excellence at Healthgrades, and the study's author. "With this report, our goal is to provide detailed, objective information to help people ask the right questions along their full spectrum of care and to choose the procedure and hospital provider that's right for them."

For more information on bariatric surgery – including available procedures, associated risks, a state-by-state list of top-performing hospitals in the field, and tips on determining if you're a candidate – download a full copy of "Choosing Bariatric Surgery to Improve Overall Health: 2012 Healthgrades Trend Report" for free online at

About the Healthgrades Report Methodology
Healthgrades analyzed 201,821 bariatric surgery hospital discharges from 2008 through 2010 and risk-adjusted in-hospital complications of 478 hospitals in 19 states. Risk adjustment allows for a valid comparison of hospitals, taking into account the types of patients treated. Hospitals are rated as 5-star (best), 3-star (as expected), and 1-star (poor). Healthgrades hospital ratings are independently created; no hospital can opt in or opt out of being rated, and no hospital pays to be rated.

About Healthgrades
Healthgrades, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, is a leading provider of comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. More than 200 million consumers use the Healthgrades websites, including and, to research, select, and connect with a physician or hospital, and use its comprehensive information about clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, patient safety, and health conditions to make more informed healthcare decisions and take action. Facebook: Twitter: @Healthgrades.

SOURCE Healthgrades