Dr. Houston’s Top Weight Loss Medication Questions
Weight loss medication is a trending topic right now. There are many different options on the market, and we’ve been getting an influx of questions about the medications. We sat down with Dr. Houston to answer some of your top questions.
What Should People Consider When Weighing the Differences Between Medication And Weight Loss Surgery?
Generally, the choice between medication and weight loss surgery depends on the individual's weight loss needs and history. Medication is suitable for those looking to shed recent weight gain, providing a jumpstart with hunger control. It's a short-term solution, guiding them to lose weight and learn maintenance strategies. On the other hand, surgery is for individuals with a long history of weight struggles despite various diets. It offers a lasting solution for those whose metabolism poses challenges to weight maintenance.
How do the newest weight loss medications work?
The newer medications on the market were originally designed for diabetes (i.e. Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and Zepbound). They were initially created to enhance insulin secretion for better blood sugar control. Interestingly, it was observed that many individuals in that diabetic population were experiencing weight loss as a side effect. This weight loss discovery was linked to the medication's impact on stomach receptors, slowing down stomach motility.
As a result, meals took longer to empty from the stomach, leading to reduced hunger and smaller meals. This unintended consequence prompted the realization that these medications could also be effective for weight loss. Although initially developed for diabetic management, these medications have been in use for years and are now being repurposed to address obesity in a different capacity.
What is Stomach Paralysis and the Risk Associated With Weight Loss Medications?
There's recent media attention on stomach paralysis or gastroparesis (slow emptying of the stomach) linked to these newer injectable weight loss medications. Ironically, this is the exact reason why these medications can help with weight loss. If your stomach slows down then patients feel full faster and eat less. Unfortunately, for some, it works too well, resulting in possible gastric reflux disease, nausea, belching, or even stomach ulcers. There are also reports of pancreatitis as a side effect, as they were initially designed to help the pancreas secrete insulin better for diabetic patients. While the medication can be effective for some, it doesn't work for everyone and may lead to complications. It's crucial to approach it cautiously, seek a doctor's support, and prioritize safety.
Is Medication A Weight Loss Solution for All Patients?
After 20 years in practice, I've noticed that patients mainly fall into two categories. The first category of patients are those who mainly just need help losing weight. These patients have not had a long history of weight problems and weight loss medication can give them the kickstart they need to get back on track.
The second category of patients not only needs help losing weight but they need just as much help keeping that weight off. This patient is struggling with a poor metabolism. They have to resort to extreme calorie restriction not to gain weight! They go on diets, and they'll lose a little weight initially, but as soon as they're off that strict diet, they rapidly gain the weight back, and then they'll even gain more weight. These patients need a long-term solution. These patients are great candidates for bariatric surgery, which gives them long-term hunger control and portion control to manage their slow metabolism.
Most patients that we see are trying to decide between whether medication for weight loss or bariatric surgery is right for them. That's my job to help you decide which solution is best for you.
Dr. Houston specializes in guiding patients through the process of helping them determine the solution that is right for them. You can schedule a consultation with Dr. Houston by completing our contact form HERE or by calling our office at 615-342-5820.