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Obes Res. 2002 Dec;10(12):1276-83.

Cost of in-patient care over 7 years among surgically and conventionally treated obese patients.

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Department of Surgery, Orebro University Hospital, Sweden.



Bariatric surgery improves cardiovascular risk factors and quality of life, but few studies have directly addressed the relation between obesity treatment and hospitalization costs. This prospective controlled study compares in-patient care between surgically and conventionally treated obese patients.


A total of 962 surgically and conventionally treated obese patients from the intervention study, Swedish Obese Subjects, were followed for 6 years. Changes in days of hospitalization and hospitalization costs were analyzed. Information on hospitalizations for each subject were obtained from the Swedish Hospital Discharge Register.


After 6 years, weight change was -16.7% in the surgical group and +0.9% in the control group (p < 0.0001). The cumulated hospital stay over 6 years was 23.4 days in the surgical group and 6.9 days in the control group (p < 0.0001). The average hospital cost for the surgical intervention was US$4300. Incremental costs that could be attributable to obesity surgery averaged US$1200 per year. After exclusion of hospitalizations for the surgical intervention and conditions common after bariatric surgery, there were no significant differences between the groups in number of hospital days or hospitalization costs.


Our experience from bariatric surgery indicates that average weight reductions of 16% will not reduce hospitalization costs over 6 years. Costs of bariatric surgery are limited and seem to be motivated given the marked improvements of cardiovascular risk factors, cardiac structure, and function and health-related quality of life.

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