26 May, 2023

The Pros And Cons Of Weight Loss Medications

For over 60 years researchers have been looking for ways to fight obesity biologically through pharmacological means. Thanks to many years of hard work, nowadays there are six weight loss medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration for long-term use. People can use them in combination with lifestyle changes to accelerate weight loss.

Important to emphasize, weight loss medications work best in combination with proper diet and regular physical activity. Relying solely on medication is not a sustainable option for weight loss since anti-obesity medications are not a replacement for healthy lifestyle habits and behavioral changes. It merely is an add-on that serves as extra help.

How Effective Are Weight Loss Medications?

You can be eligible for weight loss medications if you have tried to lose weight by modifying your diet and engaging in physical exercises but failed to achieve the desired results.

Studies have shown that the response to weight loss medications ranges from 5 to 10 % of total weight loss, but the results can vary significantly from person to person. These medications combined with lifestyle changes can help reduce from 5% up to 20% of total body weight.

While for some people these projected results might seem insignificant, many doctors and researchers point out that losing as little as 10% of weight can be helpful in preventing the diseases and health conditions associated with being overweight and obese.

How Do Weight Loss Medications Work?

Most long-term medications induce weight loss by reducing appetite, increasing the feeling of fullness, known as satiety, or slowing down gastric emptying. Some medications, for instance, Orlistat, help get rid of extra weight by reducing the absorption of fat by up to 30%.

Let’s talk in more detail about some of the recent and most popular weight loss medications: Orlistat, Semaglutide, and Liraglutide.

1. Orlistat

Orlistat is an oral medication that your doctor can prescribe you after careful evaluation of your situation and weight loss goals. Orlistat, also known as Xenical or Alli (available over-the-counter), works by preventing certain enzymes from breaking down fats in the digestive tract. This affects weight loss by decreasing the amount of calories that gets absorbed by your body. Some people succeeded in losing about 10% of their body weight with this medication.

2. Semaglutide

Semaglutide comes in the form of an injection that regulates the appetite and helps you eat less. It imitates the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1, which targets the parts of the brain that manage food intake. Semaglutide is sold under the brand name Wegovy. It is an injection under the skin (subcutaneous injection) given to patients one time per week. When Wegovy is administered into the body, it manufactures GLP-1 which turns on the receptors of GLP-1 hormone and lowers the appetite. Studies showed that Wegovy can reduce body weight by about 15% over 17 months.

3. Liraglutide

Liraglutide is an active ingredient contained in weight loss medication sold under the brand name Victoza. Used along with a proper diet and exercise regimen, it helps manage blood sugar levels, decreases your appetite, and promotes weight loss. Liraglutide is an injection under the skin (called subcutaneous injection) that is recommended for patients with type 2 diabetes who need to lose weight. According to a recent study, patients with type 2 diabetes managed to lose 5-10% of their body weight with liraglutide and healthy lifestyle changes. The medication not only leads to weight loss but also lowers the risk of heart and blood vessel issues (heart attack, blood pressure).

Weight-loss medications work most effectively in conjunction with lifestyle changes and endobariatric procedures. Medical specialists at Reveal Weight Loss use a variety of means to help you achieve sustainable weight loss.

However, weight loss medications have pros and cons that should be considered before incorporating them into your weight loss management program.

Are Prescription Weight Loss Drugs A Good Option For Me?

The Pros Of Weight Loss Medications

Some of the benefits are:

  1. The medications might help lose 5-10% of total weight. Sometimes this number can be even higher and reach up to 20% if the patient is willing to closely stick to the lifestyle changes.
  2. You can have good results that do not involve surgery, general anesthesia, recovery time, and many other inconveniences associated with bariatric surgeries.
  3. It not only helps lose some weight but also assists with other obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and provides improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors.

The Cons Of Weight Loss Medications

The downsides include the following:

  1. Expensive price. Some weight loss medications can cost about $1,400 a month. Patients need to be on this medication lifelong to have sustainable weight loss which can be financially hard for many patients.
  2. Some mild side effects of weight loss medications can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and headaches. These symptoms improve over time for most patients but still, it might disrupt some aspects of the patient’s life.
  3. More specifically, the anti-obesity medication Orlistat can reduce the level of certain vitamins in the organism. Therefore, the patient might have to take vitamin supplements.
  4. Patients might regain weight if they stop taking the medication. For instance, when taking Orlistat, in the beginning, patients often lose significant weight, but then over time, they gain back about half of the lost body mass.
  5. Not suitable for everyone. With certain health conditions, it is not recommended to take the medication for weight loss purposes.

Reveal Weight Loss Can Enhance Your Results With The Right Medication

Weight loss medications can be good assistants if used correctly and with caution. Given all the complexity of prescription drugs, only experienced doctors such as Dr. Sarkar and Dr. Shahid at Reveal Weight Loss can decide if anti-obesity medications are the right choice for you after a comprehensive examination of your health condition and goals. Our team cares about each of our patients and works with them to tailor our services to their specific needs.