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 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.
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 two programs in South Carolina.
Pediatric surgeon Dr. Aaron Lesher, who specializes in adolescent bariatric surgery, meets with adolescents patients to evaluate their candidacy from a medical and surgical perspective. Patients return for a visit with the bariatric surgery physician assistant, registered dietitian, and coordinator to discuss the program, appointments, referrals, and steps to surgery.
The MUSC Bariatric Surgery Program has 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.
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. We have a network of other adolescents who have had surgery, called our “teen buddies” that we will share with you to speak with other teens who have had surgery with us.