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October 02, 2018 - by - in Compare

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When comparing your options for weight loss drugs and bariatric procedures, consider what your goal is, how quickly you want to get there and at what cost. Knowing what outcomes you can expect, as well as whether there are any safety concerns or side effects will allow you make an educated decision.

Below you’ll find a detailed comparison of common weight loss medications and procedures to help you make this choice.

Surgery vs. Medications For Weight Loss Outcomes

Patients who use prescription weight loss medication typically lose at least 5 percent of their total body weight on average. This means you’ll lose about 6-9 pounds for every 100 pounds.

For surgeries, expected outcomes are presented as a percentage of excess weight, the difference between your actual weight and your recommended healthy weight. Patients can expect to lose 50-75 percent of their excess body weight.

Those opting for weight loss medications are likely to regain lost weight if healthy eating and exercise habits aren’t developed while taking the drug. These drugs help maximize the efficacy of your weight loss efforts, but are not a substitute for healthy habits which will help you maintain an optimal weight after cessation.

On the other hand, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery maintains that most bariatric surgery patients maintain successful weight-loss long-term.

The length of time that it takes to see results varies depending on the treatment you seek. Both short-term and long-term medication options are available, some as short as 12 weeks. Patients who undergo bariatric procedures see the majority of their weight loss take place within the first six months after their surgery. Patients may continue to lose weight for up to two years after the procedure, and lose up to 70 percent or more of their excess body weight. It’s important to note that surgeries may require pain medications post-operation, which can have an impact on weight. These medications often slow the intestines down and should be used for short periods only to avoid issue.  

Safety and Side Effects of Bariatric Surgery vs. Drugs

As with any treatment, its important to choose the safest option for your specific needs. Not everyone is a candidate for surgery and not everyone can take certain medications. The FDA advises against using weight loss drugs during pregnancy or if you have glaucoma, hyperthyroidism, unstable heart issues, or are taking other drugs for depression or migraines.

As drugs are constantly being developed and improved, the list of cautions and conditions that prohibit use are ever-changing, and can be a challenge to stay updated on. Side effects can include increased blood pressure and heart rate, nervousness, insomnia, dry mouth, constipation, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, oily spotting, intestinal cramps, gas with discharge, diarrhea, fecal urgency, incontinence, and even pancreatitis.

For surgeries, the requirements don’t change: you need to be healthy enough to sustain a surgical procedure and the risks, pain and complications that can come with the use of anesthesia.

Common risks may include leaks, nausea, vomiting and erosion or slippage of laparoscopic bands (if applicable). While bariatric surgery does have its risks, many of these are common to any surgery and are something doctors are prepared to help you through.

Can Weight Loss Pills and Surgery Work Together?

As more research has been done on obesity and weight loss treatments, physicians have begun prescribing a combination of medications and bariatric procedures in an effort to maximize the effectiveness of weight loss efforts. This hybrid treatment can take many forms, but often involves using prescribed medications as part of pre-operative weight loss efforts.

As obesity is defined as a disease, it is also chronic in nature, and medications may be needed for complications or maintenance of the condition, as would be seen in heart complications, for example.

Choose The Best Weight Loss Method For You

As you consider your options and look at potential outcomes, side effects and treatments, you should also ask your insurance provider what medications and procedures are covered, as the out-of-pocket expenses may factor into your decision. Additionally, consider what changes you plan to make to your diet and lifestyle to incorporate more activity and exercise.

These treatments are a tool to help you get to where you’re going and choosing the right tool for you is important to your successful maintenance of your weight in the future.

If you have questions about bariatric surgery or would like to schedule a free consultation, call Soma Weight Loss at 855-766-2411 or complete our contact us form.

Dr. Joseph Naim

Dr. Joseph Naim is a bariatric surgeon serving patients in the Los Angeles, California area. After completing his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Southern California, he attended medical school at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Dr. Naim went on to become the chief resident at New York Methodist Hospital and completed a fellowship in minimally invasive bariatric surgery at University Medical Center in Princeton, New Jersey. Dr. Naim also served as the medical director of bariatric surgery at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach before starting his own practice in 2004.