The first course of action in your weight loss journey is a healthy diet and exercise, but sometimes it doesn’t quite get you to the finish line. If your scale just hasn’t budged after months of putting in your best efforts, then it may be time to speak with a doctor. Medical weight loss may be a good option, mainly if your weight affects your health in other areas. Losing even 5-10% of your weight is enough to decrease the risk of obesity-related issues, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Medical weight loss is not an easy task for everyone, though. You will still need a healthy diet and be physically active to lose weight and keep it off. However, it will help you lose more weight than you would on your own.
Prescription Medication for Weight Loss
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three weight loss medications for long-term use. That means your doctor may prescribe them for several months or years. These are:
This option is an appetite suppressant. As you can imagine, it reduces the frequency of cravings. As such, you’ll find yourself eating less often and in smaller quantities. But like with many other things, you will also have to address other possible root causes for overeating, such as stress or anxiety. This medicine can help you lose 5% of your body weight, but if you have not reached the targeted goal in 12 weeks, this may not be the option best suited for you. In which case, you and your doctor can explore other possible options. Its typical side effects are dizziness, headaches, fatigue, dry mouth, and nausea.
This drug will stop your body from absorbing about 30% of the fat you eat. Which means the body will absorb fewer calories. As a drawback, the unabsorbed fat tends to cause digestive problems. It may cause stomach pain, gas, diarrhea, and leakage of oily stool. Another disadvantage is it can also block the absorption of some vitamins. For this reason, you may need to take a multivitamin while on orlistat.
Phentermine and topiramate-ER (Qsymia)
This is a combination of an appetite suppressant and an antiseizure medicine. It is only approved for short-term use. By adding topiramate, it allows for longer-term use. There are mainly three doses available. Suppose you have not lost 5% of your body weight after 12 weeks at the highest amount. In that case, this medicine may not be working correctly, and you should consult your doctor about other options. Common side effects include dizziness, taste changes, sleep problems, dry mouth, and tingling in the hands and feet.
The results of these medications vary on the dose and the person. If you follow a diet and exercise program alongside the weight loss drugs, this tends to yield the best results. In such a case, you could lose 10% of body weight, with most weight loss occurring in the first six months.
Occasionally weight loss drugs can cause some rare but severe bodily issues such as liver damage. For this reason, medication is only recommended for people with obesity. These drugs’ risks make them unnecessary for those looking for a modest amount of weight loss for cosmetic reasons.
The Bottom Line
Weight loss is a process that takes time and effort. Sometimes medical assistance can significantly help in this process. But if you are considering weight loss medication or surgery, it’s important first to discuss it with your doctor. The best treatment for you depends on your weight, health, risk factors, and lifestyle. If you are looking for a doctor, you can also contact us. Our doctors can help you reduce the risks and increase the benefits specific to you.
Also Read: Is Bariatric Surgery Safe for you?