Medically supervised weight-loss programs are designed to offer treatment to patients while they are closely followed by licensed healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, registered dietitians, and therapists. There is a wide spectrum of approaches ranging from medication to invasive surgery. The unique health needs and goals of the patient determines which approach is used.

Can Prescription Medications Help Me Lose Weight?

There are currently four prescription medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of obesity. These medications are bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave), liraglutide (Saxenda), orlistat (Xenical), and phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia). These drugs may help you lose excess weight by reducing your appetite and increasing feelings of fullness.

Weight-loss medications are intended to be combined with diet and exercise, and should not be used on their own to achieve weight loss. Additionally, these medications may only be approved for use by two types of candidates: those with a BMI greater than 30 with no obesity-related conditions, and those with a BMI greater than 27 with two or more obesity-related conditions.

Ask your doctor about the possibility of using weight-loss medications if you are unable to lose excess weight with diet and exercise.

Can Weight Loss Surgery Help Me Lose Weight?

Weight loss surgery may help some people lose excess weight when other weight-loss programs have failed to work. Many healthcare providers offer two types of weight loss surgery: gastric bypass surgery and sleeve gastrectomy (also known as the gastric sleeve). 

During gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is surgically divided to create a smaller stomach pouch, and part of the small intestine is rerouted. This helps restrict the amount of food you can eat in one sitting and allows food to bypass the part of the small intestine where the majority of calories are absorbed by the body. During sleeve gastrectomy, approximately 80% of the stomach is removed to create a smaller stomach to limit the amount of food you can eat at one time.

Gastric bypass surgery and sleeve gastrectomy are generally non-reversible procedures, and often require candidates to receive a psychological evaluation and nutrition counseling prior to surgery. Candidates must also commit to exercising regularly and eating healthy foods for the rest of their lives after surgery to avoid complications including weight regain.

Weight loss surgeries are usually only performed in people with a BMI of 35 or higher, though candidates may also include people with a BMI of 30 or higher who also have obesity-related conditions. If you have not been able to lose excess weight with diet and exercise alone, ask your doctor about the possibility of undergoing weight loss surgery.