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Despite All the Hype Around Weight Loss Medications, Weight Loss Surgery Is Still the Most Proven and Effective Solution for Obesity

Jan 19, 2023
If you are considering weight loss medications to treat obesity, it’s important to know the facts about these prescription drugs before jumping in.

Weight loss medications and weight loss surgery are two different approaches to treating obesity, a condition that affects close to 50% of adults in the United States. While weight loss medications have been around for decades with varying degrees of success and side effects, there are several currently in use today and making headlines.

If you are considering weight loss medications to treat obesity, it’s important to know the facts about these prescription drugs before jumping in.

Can Be Costly
Weight loss medications can be expensive, with injections like Wegovy costing around $1,300/month, that’s over $15,000 a year. This cost is often not covered by insurance, leaving patients to pay out of pocket for the medication. This cost can add up quickly over time and may be unaffordable for some people. In comparison, weight loss surgery is often covered by insurance or if you go the self-pay route, you can have gastric sleeve for less. At Nicholson Clinic, the self-pay price for gastric sleeve is $10,000; and financing is available for as low as $254/month.

Offer Short-Term Results
When patients stop taking their weight loss medications, they often regain the weight they lost and sometimes even more than they had to start with. The weight loss depends upon constant maintenance of taking the medication regularly which many people find difficult over a long period of time. With weight loss surgery, however, the results are more permanent, and patients are able to keep off the excess pounds over a longer period of time following a program of diet and exercise.

Have Negative Side Effects 
Semaglutide (available by prescription under the brand name Wegovy for weight loss and Ozempic for diabetes) can have side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and even reports of facial aging. There are also more serious side effects such as pancreatitis, kidney failure and thyroid cancer. These medications may can cause serious health problems if not taken properly or monitored closely by a doctor. These potential side effects should be taken into consideration when deciding whether to take these medications for weight loss purposes.

Not as Effective as Weight Loss Surgery for Significant Weight Loss
Studies show that while some patients can achieve significant health benefits if they lose 15% of their body weight using weight loss medications like Wegovy, they are not as effective as bariatric procedures when it comes to long-term results in terms of sustained weight loss over time. Furthermore, there is no long-term data available on how safe these medications are when used solely for purposes of losing weight. It’s not advised to use medications that treat a disease for a “positive” side effect like weight loss. Therefore, it is important to weigh the potential risks versus benefits before making any decisions about using these drugs.

Overall, there are cases where using a prescription medication like Wegovy or Ozempic could help someone achieve their desired level of weight loss and control over diabetes, yet it should only be done under careful supervision from your doctor. For most people looking for significant lasting results, bariatric procedures remain one of the safest and most effective ways to treat obesity.

About the Author
One of the most experienced weight loss surgeons in the country – Dr. Nick Nicholson – along with a full staff of surgeons, physician assistants, and other experienced clinicians, help patients reverse obesity with Sleeve Gastrectomy, Gastric Bypass, Duodenal Switch, LAP-BAND, Gastric Balloon and Revisions.