Medically Assisted Weight Loss Options – From A to Z

If you have tried traditional methods to lose weight such as cutting calories and increasing your daily exercise but have been unsuccessful, you may wish to consider some medical options for weight loss.

Research has revealed that without the assistance of some form of medical intervention, many Individuals with high BMI levels (body mass index) have a very low chance of losing the amount of weight necessary for their BMI level to normalize.

Medical options for weight loss include bariatric surgery, non-surgical weight loss procedures, and prescription medications. If you are seeking some help in your weight loss efforts, keep reading to learn more about each of these options and which one may be right for you.

What Is Medical Weight Loss?

The goal of any medical weight loss option is to work individually with obese patients to help them safely lose a significant amount of weight and maintain their weight loss.

Medical weight loss options all require the supervision and guidance of a doctor or team of medical professionals. It could consist of a monitored program including medication, bariatric surgery, or a non-surgical weight loss procedure such as a gastric balloon, or Suture sculpt endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty.

Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery has been proven one of the most effective ways for an obese individual to lose between 30% and 70% of their excess body weight in a year. Excess body weight is the difference between the patient’s current weight and their ideal or “goal” weight. Although bariatric surgery can result in significant weight loss, the risks, potential complications, and extended recovery time may be problematic for many individuals.

Candidates for bariatric surgery have a (BMI) of 40+ or a BMI of 35+ and weight-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, severe sleep apnea, or high blood pressure.
Bariatric surgeries employ two methods to help individuals lose weight and often, a combination of both. These methods include:

  • Restrictive – Surgical removal of approximately 70-80% of the patient’s stomach limits the amount of food they can eat. The smaller stomach also helps the individual feel “full” longer because it takes longer for the stomach to empty. Also, the stomach produces a hormone called ghrelin that signals to our brain that we are hungry. When the stomach is reduced in size it also reduces the amount of ghrelin the stomach can produce. It is easier to lose weight if you are not feeling hungry all the time.
  • Malabsorptive – The malabsorptive method involves limiting the number of calories and nutrients that can be absorbed by the body. This is done by surgically rearranging the digestive system (intestines) so the food that is ingested bypasses a portion of the normal digestion process and leaves the body faster. Most patients who undergo bariatric surgery that include malabsorption must take nutrition supplements to avoid malnutrition.

Surgical Options for Weight Loss

  • Sleeve Gastroplasty (gastric sleeve) uses only the restrictive method and involves the surgical reduction of the patient’s stomach size.
  • Gastric Bypass (Roux-en-Y) uses both malabsorptive and restrictive methods and usually results in significant weight loss. The patient’s stomach is made smaller and alternations are made to the intestines so most of the small intestine is bypassed during digestion.
  • Duodenal Switch reduces the size of the stomach but also changes two portions of the digestive system making it the most malabsorptive bariatric procedure available.
  • Gastric Band is performed to install a medical device that resembles an adjustable belt. This belt is placed at the top of the stomach and restricts the intake of food.

Non-Surgical Weight Loss Options

If you are looking for weight loss options without surgery then you may be interested in a gastric balloon procedure or Suture Sculpt endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty.

Both of these procedures are incision-free weight loss options that are done as outpatient surgery so patients can return home the same day as the procedure.

Gastric Balloon

A gastric balloon is also sometimes more formally known as an intragastric balloon. A soft silicone balloon is placed in an individual’s stomach temporarily for six months to take up space. It limits the amount the patient can eat and helps them feel full and satisfied longer. The deflated balloon is placed in the stomach endoscopically and then inflated with saline. A gastric balloon such as Orbera is a non-surgical weight loss option that has helped patients lose between 30 – 50 pounds in only six months. Good candidates for a gastric balloon procedure have a BMI of 27+, are in overall good health, and have not had any prior stomach surgeries.

Gastric balloon procedures are intended to be used along with a healthy diet and physical exercise program. They are doctor-supervised and monitor the patient’s progress and provide nutritional, physical, and emotional support.

Orbera patient lost 39 pounds within 6 months after the procedure
Orbera patient lost 39 pounds within 6 months after the procedure

Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty (ESG)

Suture Sculpt endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) is a newer non-surgical weight loss option that can be used on an individual with a body mass index of 30+.

It delivers results that are very similar to gastric sleeve surgery but there are no incisions involved in ESG. During the procedure, the size of the patient’s stomach is decreased by approximately 70% which restricts their food intake and helps them feel full longer.

During the procedure, the stomach is reshaped into a small sleeve-like tube and held in place by about a dozen strategically placed sutures. The entire procedure is performed endoscopically (a special surgical tool with a camera that is lowered down the patient’s throat to access the stomach) so the recovery time is minimal, especially when compared to bariatric surgery.

ESG is one of the best weight loss options without surgery available today and is ideal for patients who do not qualify for surgery or who do not want to have surgery. Patients can lose between sixty and seventy percent of their excess body weight.

Suture Sculpt weight loss results after 1 year
Suture Sculpt weight loss results after 1 year

Weight Loss Medications

When diet and exercise are not resulting in weight loss there are some weight loss medication options available that can help. These medications are meant to be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and daily exercise while under a doctor’s supervision. Weight loss medications can come in injection or pill form and can be meant for long-term or short-term use.

Injectable Weight Loss Medication Options

Weight loss injections help to boost the naturally occurring level of GLP-1 in our bodies. GLP-1 is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels and fat metabolism. These medications also assist with keeping hunger pains at bay and also slow down the rate of digestion so your stomach takes longer to empty and you feel full longer.

  • Wegovy® is a weight loss medication that is administered once a week. It contains the prescription drug Semaglutide which is the same medication that was approved in 2017 by the FDA to treat type 2 diabetes. It was discovered to help reduce weight in diabetic patients and in June 2021 the FDA approved a higher dose of Semaglutide for use in the treatment of obesity. Wegovy is dispensed in a preloaded injection pen that is used once and discarded.
  • Saxenda® contains the prescription drug Liraglutide, which has been used since 2010 to treat type 2 diabetes and is also FDA-approved in a higher dose to help obese patients lose weight. Like Semigludtide, It is administered subcutaneously with a pre-filled injection pen. Unlike Wegovy, Saxenda injections are administered once a day and are approved to treat children as young as 12.

Oral Weight Loss Medication Options

Weight loss pills have been around for decades and not all of them were found to be safe. When using any sort of drug to aid in weight loss efforts it should be under a doctor’s supervision and as part of a balanced program that includes diet and exercise.

  • Adipex-P, Suprenza, Lomaira, or Qsymia – Phentermine was approved in 1959 for patients over 16 years old to treat obesity but can only be used for up to 3 months. It is marketed today under the brand names Lomaira, Suprenza, and Adipex-P. Qsymia is a combination of phentermine and topiramate and is approved for use for up to a year.Phentermine suppresses hunger through the central nervous system by stopping the signals that tell us we are hungry. Phentermine is a controlled substance that can become habit-forming and is not to be used for longer than three months. One of the side effects of phentermine is it can inhibit sleep.Patients can expect to lose approximately 10% of their excess body weight while taking one of these weight loss medications.
  • Contrave – This blend of generic drugs naltrexone and bupropion was approved by the FDA in 2014 for use in the treatment of obesity. Contrave affects the hypothalamus which is the part of our brain that controls our temperature, our appetite, and the way our body converts and uses energy.Naltrexone is often used to help patients recover from addiction to drugs or alcohol and bupropion is often contained in antidepressants such as Wellbutrin. One of the side effects of Contrave is seizures.Patients can expect weight loss of between 4% and 8% of their body weight. Contrave can be used for up to 56 months.

If your attempts in losing weight through normal channels have left you frustrated and you need some help, please contact Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center today. We understand the struggle that you are having and we would love to talk to you about the options we have available to help you reach your weight loss goals. Contact us today and let us help choose the medical weight loss option that is right for you.

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