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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. We have outlined the steps in the Candidate section of our site. Use that information to determine if you meet the criteria. If you are a candidate, follow the below steps to begin your weight loss journey with MUSC Health.

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. Be sure to ask for how many months - 3 to 6 months is common). View a sample form (PDF) your primary care provider will need to complete.
    • Letters of medical necessity
    • Surgical clearances required, such as 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 M.D. 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 (PDF) 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: Complete and Return Patient Information Forms

Obtain the 'Patient Information Packet' after watching our new patient welcome video:

Complete the Patient Information Form, Nutrition Questionnaire, and Medical History Questionnaire and return the 6 pages to our office.

  • Mail:
    MUSC Health Bariatric Surgery Program
    Ashley River Tower
    25 Courtenay Drive, MSC 290
    Charleston SC, 29425
  • Fax: 843-876-4201
  • Email: thomassd@musc.edu

We encourage patients to use MyChart, the electronic medical record for MUSC Health, as we prefer to communicate with you this way.

Step 4: Connect with the Bariatric Surgery Team

When we receive your completed packet, you will receive a call from 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 5: Initial Consultation Appointments

Your initial patient appointment to discuss your options for surgery will be with the team 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.

Lab work 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.

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, or 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 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 class schedule.
  • You do not need to register; we will document attendance when you arrive.

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; you may have additional lab work and EKG 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 & 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 one month, three months, six months, 12 months, 18 months, two years, three 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.