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:
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.
At MUSC Health, the adolescent bariatric surgery requirements are:
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.
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.
If you are interested in our adolescent bariatric surgery program, here are the next steps.