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Weight Loss Surgery Program

Adolescent Surgery

While bariatric surgery is well known as the only effective way for people who are morbidly obese to lose and maintain weight loss, weight loss surgery in teens with morbid obesity is still underused. Severe obesity affects 4.4 million children and adolescents in the U.S., yet less than 2000 weight loss surgeries are done in adolescents each year, bariatric surgery being an effective and safe intervention for appropriate teens. That’s less than 1 percent of those who could benefit from this life-improving treatment. A recent multi-center prospective study of bariatric surgery in adolescents found significant improvements in weight, cardiometabolic health, and weight-related quality of life for their patients 3 years after surgery.

Here at the MUSC Adolescent Bariatric Surgery program, we are committed to helping teens with morbid obesity to achieve their goals of weight loss and improved quality of life through our comprehensive, interdisciplinary team and services.

Dr. Karl Byrne talks about MUSC's Bariatric Surgery Program for Adolescents:

A patient shares her story about adolescent bariatric surgery:

Adolescent Accreditation

MUSC is accredited to perform weight loss surgery on adolescents by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. We are the only hospital in the Lowcountry with accreditation to treat teens, and one of only three programs in South Carolina. 

Requirements/Criteria

At MUSC Health, the adolescent bariatric surgery requirements are:

  • Age 13 to 19 at the time of surgery
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 35 kg/m2 with weight-related health problems
  • BMI greater than 40 kg/m2
  • Consent from both the patient and a parent/guardian
  • Psychological evaluation to ensure aptitude for pre- and post-surgery requirements (knowledge of what surgery is all about; risks/benefits; supportive family; willingness to commit to diet, exercise, and long term follow up requirements)
  • Patient is done growing (must provide documentation of skeletal maturity)
  • Participation in a weight management program like MUSC’s Heart Health/Pediatric Weight Management Program

Team Approach

Our surgeons, physician assistant, psychologists, dietitians, nursing, and anesthesia teams are committed to helping your teen achieve their weight loss goals. Between the Pediatric Weight Management/Heart Health team, and the bariatric dietitians, psychologists, and medical staff, we work with your teen on pre-surgical education in the months leading up to surgery as well as providing a long term commitment to postoperative care as adolescents transition into adulthood.

We collaborate with the pediatrician and other members of their care team to ensure a long term plan for weight management. We encourage family and caretakers to attend all appointments. In addition to monthly support groups, pre- and postoperative education classes, and individual appointments, we offer virtual support through a monthly newsletter, Facebook page, and a library of educational materials available online. We have a network of other adolescents who have had surgery, called our “teen buddy list” that we will share with you to speak with other teens who have had surgery with us.

The MUSC Bariatric Surgery Program as partnered with the MUSC Pediatric Heart Health Weight Management Program for adolescents interested in weight loss surgery. Participation in the program is required to prepare for surgery and strongly recommended for follow up after surgery until age 22.

MUSC’s Adolescent Weight Management Program – Pediatric Heart Health

Families considering weight loss surgery must participate in the Heart Health Program, which is both the pediatric weight management program of the MUSC Children’s Hospital and the preventive cardiology service of the Children's Heart Center. We feel that this family-centered and lifestyle-oriented program is the best way for our teens to prepare for the unique challenges that weight loss surgery presents and maintain follow up after surgery to stay on track. Dr. Melissa Henshaw, who is our pediatric metabolic advisor, and a team of nutrition and exercise experts provide a supportive structure for our younger patients to learn to lose and maintain weight loss.

Next Steps

If you are interested in our adolescent bariatric surgery program, here are the next steps.

  1. Talk to your insurance provider to determine if weight loss surgery is a covered benefit on your plan, and be sure it is not an excluded benefit for those under age 18. Competitive self-pay options are available. See our page on Insurance & Financing for more details.
  2. Check to see if you meet the criteria. To qualify for weight loss surgery, teens must have a BMI over 40, or a BMI over 35 in addition to other serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, or others. See the list above for other criteria. Call us if you have any questions about the requirements.
  3. Contact us. To begin the weight loss surgery journey with us, call our Adolescent Program Liaison, Lisa Steinbronn at 843-792-3046 or email her at jacksla@musc.edu. You will be directed to view our information session and then complete a patient packet. Finally, you will be guided through the steps to surgery.
    • You can register for the in-person information session by calling 843-792-1414. Or, if you can't come to the live presentation, you can view it online here.
 

Our Locations

Ashley River Tower
25 Courtenay Drive
Charleston, SC

      

Contact the MUSC Health Bariatric Surgery Program:

843-792-3046

  

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