Steps to Weight Loss Surgery
The first step on your journey to bariatric surgery is to determine if you are a candidate for metabolic and bariatric surgery. If you are, we have outlined the steps that you need to complete on your journey.
If bariatric surgery is not right for you, but you still are determined to lose weight, we recommend looking into some of MUSC Health's non-surgical weight loss options offered by the Weight Management Center.
If you're ready to start the journey with us, please read on below.
New Patient Welcome Video
Please view our new patient welcome video to orient yourself to our program and process.
- We have a monthly information session where you can come to watch this video and interact with the bariatric team once a month on the third Tuesday at 5 p.m.— call 843-792-1414 to register
- We encourage new patients to stay for our monthly support group which begins at 5:30 p.m.
Step 1: Call your Insurance Company
Verify that weight loss surgery is a 'covered benefit' and is not a plan exclusion.
Ask your insurance company if the following procedures are covered at MUSC Health by your insurance plan:
- Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (CPT 43644)
- Sleeve Gastrectomy (CPT 43775)
- Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (CPT 43845)
- Lap Band Removal (CPT 43774)
Ask about criteria that may be required by insurance company for surgery approval:
- ‘Medically supervised’ weight loss attempts (ask for how many months - 3 to 6 is common) - see our sample form for your primary care provider to complete
- Letters of medical necessity
- Surgical clearances required (like pulmonary or cardiac)
- Additional lab work such as TSH or H Pylori
Step 2: Document Medically Supervised Weight Loss Attempt
If required by your insurance company, connect with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian that may work with an MD who can help you meet this requirement.
You can use the progress notes if they address your weight, or you can use our sample form for your primary care provider to complete one per month.
Tell them you need monthly visits to discuss your weight:
- One visit per calendar month
- 30 days apart
- Consecutive - in order and no breaks
Fax office visit notes or completed sample monthly supervised weight loss attempt forms to 843-876-4201.
Step 3: Connect with the Bariatric Surgery Team
Call us at 843-792-3046 to schedule your initial consultation to meet with the surgeon and team.
You will have labwork done at your first visit, and you will need to start taking vitamins and working on your goals, program and insurance requirements.
We will refer you to get your psychosocial evaluation at the behavioral medicine clinic. You will need to call 843-792-9162 to schedule this appointment once we refer you.
Step 4: Complete and Return Patient Information Forms
Obtain the 'Patient Informational Packet' after watching our new patient welcome video:
- Print Packet and Application (PDF) at home
- Have it mailed to you after watching video
- Receive packet after attending informational session/open house
Complete the Patient Information Form and Nutrition Questionnaire and return these 2 pages to the bariatric surgery program office:
- Mail to: MUSC Health Bariatric Surgery Program, Ashley River Tower 25 Courtenay Drive, MSC 290, Charleston SC, 29425
- Fax to: 843-876-4201
We encourage patients to use MyChart, the electronic medical record for MUSC Health, as we prefer to communicate with you this way, and you will be able to complete some of your required forms through questionnaires available in MyChart.
Step 5: Initial Consultation Appointments
Once we receive your Patient Information Form and Nutrition Questionnaire, you will be contacted to set up your initial patient appointment to discuss your options for surgery with the surgeon, physician assistant, registered dietitian, program coordinator and patient liaison in our GI Surgery Clinic at the Ashley River Tower, 25 Courtenay Drive, Charleston SC, 29425. Parking is available in the Courtney Street Garage.
Be sure you have completed the Nutrition Questionnaire Form prior to the appointment and you will meet with the Registered Dietitian to discuss eating habits and vitamins.
You will need to call 843-792-9162 to schedule the psychosocial appointment with the psychologist at the behavioral medicine clinic at the Institute of Psychiatry at MUSC, 67 President Street, you can park at the Jonathan Lucas Garage at 97 Jonathan Lucas Street, Charleston, SC 29425. We are allotted a limited number of appointments, so it is very important to keep your appointment.
Step 6: Pre-Surgery Education Class
All patients are required to attend our Preoperative Education class to learn about medical and nutritional guidelines after bariatric surgery.
- Classes are held at the Ashley River Tower Auditorium at 25 Courtenay Drive, Charleston, SC 29425. Parking is available at the Courtenay Drive Garage.
- Class is offered twice each month - the first and third Tuesday from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. - view the full schedule
- You do not need to register, we will document attendance when you arrive.
Labwork is done at your first visit with the team, and recommendations to start vitamins for all patients plus any additional vitamins for deficiency. You can see lab values, letters from the dietitians, and communicate with questions using MyChart, the electronic medical record.
During this time, please obtain any clearances you may need such as cardiac (heart) or pulmonary (lung), and testing for H Pylori if these are required by your insurance or the medical team.
Step 7: Insurance Approval & Schedule Procedure
- Once you've completed your program requirements and your insurance requirements (such as the medically supervised weight loss attempts), you are responsible for getting your records sent to our office.
- We will submit to your insurance company for approval, and will contact you as soon as we receive approval. This can take up to 30 days, so please be patient while we await approval.
- If you are denied, it is your responsibility to submit paperwork required for the appeal process.
- You will be contacted to schedule your surgery date, as well as your pre-operative clinic visit with the physician assistant and dietitian, about 1 to 2 weeks prior to surgery date.
- You will also see the anesthesia team at Rutledge Tower (after your clinic visit, our team will give you directions to Rutledge Tower by car or by shuttle). You may have additional lab work at this visit.
Step 8: Weight Loss Surgery
- You will be admitted to the Ashley River Tower hospital the morning of your surgery through central registration the morning of surgery.
- You will be in the hospital approximately 2 days, and must have prior arrangements for transportation home from the hospital and an adequate care-giving plan for your first days at home.
- You will receive extensive education about your hospital stay during the mandatory Pre-Surgery Education class.
After Surgery and Beyond
Because this is a program and not just a procedure, we expect to have a lifelong relationship with you and we look forward to working with you and watching your progress on your weight loss and maintenance journey. Routine clinic visits will be at 1 month, 3months, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, 2 years, 3 years, and annually for life.
We continually develop innovative resources, classes, and programs to suit your needs, and much of our information is disseminated through the website, Facebook page
or our listserv - email WLS@musc.edu
if you would like to be added.