Weight Loss Surgery Australia - All You Need to Know

Reviewed by: Dr. Anthony Clough, North Eastern Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery in Australia:

  • Requires a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30
  • Includes 4 procedures: gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, Lap-Band, and gastric balloon
  • Costs between $2,800 and $18,000 AUD, depending on insurance
  • Is offered by surgeons in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia

Read and click the sections below for everything you need to know about getting a weight loss procedure in Australia.

01 Qualify

Qualify

27+ body mass index (BMI) required Click here to calculate your BMI

To determine whether you qualify for weight loss surgery, use the Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculator below to calculate your BMI, then scroll down to review the chart…

weight loss surgery australia

Enter your height & weight, then click the button:

Enter your height & weight, then click the button:

27+

Weight Loss Surgery
Required BMI

  • Below 18.5Underweight

  • 18.5 – 24.9Healthy Weight

  • 25.0 – 29.9Overweight

  • 30.0 – 34.9Obese

  • 35.0 – 39.9Severely Obese

  • 40.0 – 49.9Morbidly Obese

  • 50 or higherSuper Obese

Other than for gastric balloon, BMI’s between 30 and 39.9 require certain health problems in order to qualify. BMI’s of 40 or higher qualify with or without related health issues. Gastric balloon requires of a minimum BMI of 27.

Body Mass Index
Body Mass Index
30 or higher
30 or higher
35 to 39.9
35 to 39.9
40 or higher
40 or higher
Body Mass Index
Health Problems Required to Qualify
30 or higher
Poorly controlled type 2 diabetes and have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease
35 to 39.9
40 or higher
No health problems required to qualify for surgery

Assuming your BMI qualifies, your next step is to decide which procedures may be a fit for you. Click the sections below to learn more.

02 4 Types of Weight Loss Surgery

4 Types of Weight Loss Surgery

Gastric sleeve Gastric bypass Lap-Band Gastric balloon

weight loss surgery australia

The 3 most common types of bariatric surgery in Australia are (in no particular order):

  • Gastric bypass (also called Roux-en-Y or RNY gastric bypass)
  • Gastric sleeve (also called vertical sleeve gastrectomy or just “sleeve gastrectomy”)
  • Adjustable Gastric Band (commonly called Lap Band which is a specific brand made by Apollo, formerly Allergan. Other brands include the Swedish Band and Heliogast)

The gastric balloon is also gaining popularity as an "in between" option that is more aggressive than diet and exercise but less aggressive than traditional bariatric surgery.

The links above will take you to a page with everything you need to know about each procedure including average weight loss for each procedure, impact on obesity-related health problems, potential risks and complications, and what life is like after surgery.

Out of pocket costs for each procedure can be found below.

Also review our Types of Weight Loss Surgery page to compare these four along with all other available procedures.

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03 Cost & Insurance

Cost & Insurance

Cost with Insurance: $2,800 – $7,000 AUD Cost without Insurance: $12,000 to $18,000 AUD Using superannuation benefits to pay Loans & Tax Savings: Usually available

This 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

weight loss surgery costs australia

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 [the upper GI tract exam using an endoscope])

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

weight loss surgery australia insurance

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)

Or click your state in the map below...

  • Lowest Cost

  • Mid Range

  • Highest Cost

  • No Data

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC

Or click your state in the map below...

  • Lowest Cost

  • Mid Range

  • Highest Cost

  • No Data

AB BC MB NB NL NT NS NU ON PE QC SK YT

Or click your state in the map below...

  • Lowest Cost

  • Mid Range

  • Highest Cost

  • No Data

NSW NT QLD SA TAS VIC WA ACT

Or click your state in the map below...

  • Lowest Cost

  • Mid Range

  • Highest Cost

  • No Data

SL NW NE SW IR WM LD SE YS EM NI EA WA

Cost Survey Results for MEXICO*


Including Cancun, Guadalajara, Los Cabos, Mexicali, Monterrey, Puerto Vallarta and Tijuana

<-- swipe to see other years -->
 201520162017
Gastric Bypass$7,772 $7,422 n/a
Gastric Banding (Lap Band)$6,101 $5,826 n/a
Gastric Sleeve$5,367 $5,125 n/a
Duodenal Switch$8,440 $8,060 n/a

* 10 Practices in Mexico were contacted to calculate these averages.

Exact Quote for You

Click here to find a top surgeon near you. Their office will be able to provide you with a more exact quote.

If you have trouble viewing the tool on your device, the following table summarizes the data:

Region Region
Procedure Procedure
Average Cost Average Cost
Region NEW SOUTH WALES
Procedure Gastric Bypass
Average Cost $4,500
Region NEW SOUTH WALES
Procedure Gastric Sleeve
Average Cost $5,225
Region NEW SOUTH WALES
Procedure Lap Band
Average Cost $4,750

NEW SOUTH WALES surgeons surveyed are located in Sydney

Region QUEENSLAND
Procedure Gastric Bypass
Average Cost $5,246
Region QUEENSLAND
Procedure Gastric Sleeve
Average Cost $4,388
Region QUEENSLAND
Procedure Lap Band
Average Cost $4,500

QUEENSLAND surgeons surveyed are located in Brisbane and Gold Coast

Region SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Procedure Gastric Bypass
Average Cost $3,250
Region SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Procedure Gastric Sleeve
Average Cost $3,025
Region SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Procedure Lap Band
Average Cost $2,917

SOUTH AUSTRALIA surgeons surveyed are located in Adelaide and Barossa Valley

Region TASMANIA
Procedure Lap Band
Average Cost $1,700

TASMANIA surgeons surveyed are located in Hobart

Region VICTORIA
Procedure Gastric Bypass
Average Cost $5,160
Region VICTORIA
Procedure Gastric Sleeve
Average Cost $4,672
Region VICTORIA
Procedure Lap Band
Average Cost $4,129

VICTORIA surgeons surveyed are located in Melbourne

Region WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Procedure Gastric Sleeve
Average Cost $3,500
Region WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Procedure Lap Band
Average Cost $2,200

VICTORIA surgeons surveyed are located in Melbourne

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

Click here for a full list of Australian health funds and their contact information.

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

Medicare Reimbursement

weight loss surgery australia medicare

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.

Click here to access the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) database 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

weight loss surgery australia superannuation

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.

Click here to go to the DHS website for more information.

Personal Finance Bariatric Surgery Australia

weight loss surgery australia financing

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. Click here to submit an online application.

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. Click here to learn more.

For other ideas, see our Financing Bariatric Surgery page.

Tax Offset for Weight Loss Surgery Australia

bariatric surgery australia tax offset

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.”

Click here for updated Medicare Benefit Tax Statement information from the Department of Human Services.

04 4 Steps to Surgery

4 Steps to Surgery

Necessary homework Create initial list of surgeons Narrow down your list Interview surgeons and make selection

Finding the right surgeon is essential for short- and long-term weight loss surgery success. Following are the steps to take to choose the surgeon that’s right for you (links will take you to a different page):

To confirm that your surgeon is properly trained, be sure they are an active Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS).

To check your surgeon’s standing, click here and enter your surgeon’s name. As long as your surgeon is listed you can be confident that they are in “active” standing.

05 Help & Support

Help & Support

Ask the expert Patient experiences

Ask the Expert & Patient Experiences*

Do you have any experiences to share or questions about weight loss surgery in Australia?

Your insights are invaluable towards making sure other people have the information they need to meet their goals. We would also be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Please use the form below to share your experiences or ask a question.

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06 Find a Top Weight Loss Surgeon

Find a Top Weight Loss Surgeon

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About Dr. Anthony Clough

Dr. Anthony Clough is a bariatric surgeon in Melbourne performing the full range of surgical solutions to weight loss including gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, biliopancreatic diversion as well as revisional surgery.

Dr. Clough has extensive training in advanced minimally invasive surgery as applied to the upper abdomen and abdominal wall. He has a particular interest in laparoscopic surgery involving the stomach and oesophagus which includes bariatric surgery, hiatus hernia repair and anti-reflux surgery.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Clough.

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[ Last editorial review/modification of this page : 05/11/2017 ]

* Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided for general information purposes and your specific results may vary depending on a variety of circumstances. It is not intended as nor should be relied upon as medical advice. Rather, it is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing physician(s). Before you use any of the information provided in the site, you should seek the advice of a qualified medical, dietary, fitness or other appropriate professional. Read More