Steps to Weight Loss Surgery

We look forward to working with you on your surgical weight loss journey.

Step 1: Watch our New Patient Welcome Video

We have created a video for you to review to determine if the MUSC Health Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Program is a good fit for you.

Before you embark on your journey to bariatric surgery, you will want to determine if you meet the criteria to begin evaluation for surgery. We have outlined the steps on the page: Are you a Candidate for Weight Loss Surgery? If you meet criteria having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40 kg/m2, or over 35 kg/m2 with health conditions associated with excess weight, then you should find out if surgical options are covered under your insurance plan, or if paying out of pocket is an option for you.

Step 2: Call your Insurance Company to verify benefits for bariatric surgery

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:

  • View a list of questions (PDF) to ask when you call to help determine your benefits
  • ‘Medically supervised’ weight loss attempts are often required by insurance companies
  • Ask how many months are required (3 to 6 months are typical)
  • View a sample form (PDF) your primary care provider will need to complete
  • Letters of medical necessity (PDF) from your health care team
  • Find out if any additional surgical clearances (such has pulmonary or cardiac) are required, or if any specific labwork or testing is required (such as TSH or H Pylori)

Step 3: Review our Patient Education Guide

Our educational Patient Guide (PDF) is a quick overview for you to learn more about surgical weight loss options, shared decision-making, risks and benefits of surgery, and unique features of each procedure. 

Step 4: Complete & Return Patient Information Forms

When you are ready to proceed, please complete the patient information forms (PDF) which includes a medical and nutritional history questionnaire, and include a copy of your insurance card (front and back).

Return the completed forms to us by mail, fax, or email:

Mail:                      MUSC Health Bariatric Surgery Program
Ashley River Tower
25 Courtenay Drive, MSC 290
Charleston SC, 29425

Fax:                        843-876-4201


Step 5: You will be contacted to schedule your Initial Consultation

When we receive your completed patient information forms, you will be contacted by our New Patient Coordinator to schedule your initial consultation to meet with the surgeon and team.

You should begin working on your insurance requirements such as monthly visits with your primary care provider if required by insurance.

Step 6: Attend Consultation with the Bariatric Team

Your initial consultation to discuss your options and candidacy for surgery will be with the bariatric surgeon, registered dietitian, and nurse coordinator.

You will have labwork drawn after you meet with the clinicians. Recommendations to start vitamins for all patients plus any additional vitamins for deficiency will be sent following your visit. You can see lab values, letters from the dietitians, and communicate with questions using MyChart, the electronic medical record.

Location:              GI Surgery Clinic
Ashley River Tower,
25 Courtenay Drive,
Charleston SC, 29425

Parking is available in the Courtney Street Garage, or you can valet for $10.

We have a no-show policy: If you fail to show up or cancel within 24 hours your initial patient appointment with the bariatric team, 3 times, you will be dismissed from the program for 12 months. Please make every effort to show up, or call before 24 hours if you are going to miss an appointment.

Step 7: Attend Consultation with Behavioral Medicine Psychologist

Your initial consultation with the behavioral medicine psychologist will be at the Behavioral Medicine Clinic and is a 3-4 hour evaluation to discuss readiness for surgery, past history, identify a caregiving plan, and identify any areas that may need to be optimized prior to surgery.

You must call 843-792-9162 to schedule this appointment

Location:              Behavioral Medicine Clinic
Institute of Psychiatry (IOP),
1st Floor 67 President Street
Charleston SC, 29425

We have a no-show policy: If you fail to show up or cancel within 24 hours your initial patient appointment with the psychologist 3 times, you will be dismissed from the program for 12 months. Please make every effort to show up, or call before 24 hours if you are going to miss an appointment.

Step 8: Attend Preoperative Education Class 

All patients are required to attend our Preoperative Education class to learn about your new post-op lifestyle, medical and nutritional guidelines after bariatric surgery.

We are currently offering our preop class in a virtual format. The team will discuss this with you at your initial consultation.

Step 9: Complete insurance requirements & We submit your clinical info to insurance company

During this time, you should be working on your insurance and program requirements.

If you are working on a ‘Medically Supervised Weight Loss Attempt’, be sure your health care providers are sending us the records, or obtain a copy to send to us. Fax records to: 843-876-4201

  • Monthly visit should be once per month, about 30 days apart, and consecutive (3-6 months in a row, without any breaks)
  • You can have your providers send us monthly progress notes, or use a sample form (PDF) we have created to help streamline their process

Many insurance companies require documentation of your history of attempts at losing weight; we have developed a Medical Necessity Form (PDF) to help your Provider document this. 

Our program requires that you are smoke-free or nicotine-free prior to entering our program. You are required to eliminate all nicotine for 30 days prior to your first appointment with the surgeon.  We will be checking a urine nicotine at this first appointment.  If your urine nicotine is positive, you will not be permitted to progress in the program until you have a negative urine test.  Once you have proven nicotine cessation, you will undergo urine nicotine screening for 60 days or up until your surgery is scheduled.

Once all your requirements have been met, and records received, we will submit your clinical information to your insurance company for prior authorization. 

Step 10: Receive Approval and Schedule Surgery Date

Once we receive approval, you will get a call from our office to schedule your surgery date.

Step 11: Attend preoperative visit with bariatric team

You will be contacted to schedule your surgery date, as well as your pre-operative visit with the Nurse Practitioner and Registered Dietitian, about 1 to 2 weeks prior to surgery date.

You will also see the anesthesia team at Rutledge Tower; you may have additional lab work and EKG at this visit.

Step 12: Come to Ashley River Tower for your 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 1-2 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.

Step 13: Engage with our program for lifelong aftercare

Surgical weight loss is a program, not just a procedure, and expect to have a lifelong relationship with you! We look forward to working with you and watching your progress on your weight loss and maintenance journey.

Routine clinic visits will be scheduled when you leave clinic at: one month, three months, six months, twelve months, eighteen months, two years, three years, and annually for life.

If you leave without making an appointment, be sure to call the GI Surgery Scheduling Line at 843-792-7929.

If you relocate or need to have another provider order your routine bariatric labwork, we can facilitate this process to ensure labs are being ordered and reviewed.

We continually develop innovative resources, classes, and programs to suit your needs, and much of our information is disseminated through our website, Facebook page, or listserv - email if you would like to be added.