By Dr. Karl Strom
The medical weight loss market has always been inundated with products that make losing weight seem as simple as taking a ‘magical’ pill or shot. Weight loss medications that were previously available yielded terrible side effects and only a small percentage of users experienced weight loss.
A new class of medications called GLP-1s has recently been introduced to the medical weight loss market, and they work by mimicking a hormone that causes the body to produce more insulin to lower blood sugar. These medications also slow the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine, causing the patient to feel fuller longer and have a decreased appetite.
Weight loss medications are a terrific option for patients who have less than 40 lbs to lose, and a BMI between 27 and 34. These medications can also benefit patients who are expected to undergo bariatric surgery and have plateaued in meeting their weight loss goals.
Patients who have a BMI greater than 35 or patients with more than 40 lbs to lose would benefit from seeking surgical treatment for obesity. Although some of the more advanced weight loss medications have produced outstanding weight loss results, we still believe that bariatric surgery, such as a sleeve gastrectomy, is the best option for treating patients who are morbidly obese. This is due to a permanent change that is made to the patient’s anatomy, which cannot be achieved by taking medications. Unless significant lifestyle changes are made, gaining the weight back after discontinuing the medication is likely.