Weight-loss medications are prescription medications closely monitored by our physicians to help you reduce your appetite and improve your metabolism. We follow Food and Drug Administration guidelines and approvals to prescribe medications.

The medications used to treat obesity work in different ways. Some medications may help you feel less hungry or make you feel as if your stomach is full sooner than it would without medication. Some medications make it harder for your body to absorb fat from the foods you are eating. Weight-loss medications are used in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and physical activity regimen. Weight-loss results will vary depending on the individual and associated health concerns. Some patients may regain weight after ending the use of the prescriptions.


Who is a candidate for medical weight-loss?

To qualify for medical weight-loss, patients need to have a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30 or greater than 27 with weight-associated medical concerns such as hypertension, diabetes, or sleep apnea.

BMI is a measure of weight concerning height and defines when someone is overweight or obese. People who have a BMI between 25 and 30 are considered overweight. People with a BMI of 30 or greater are considered obese. For patients eligible for medication, weight loss, blood work, and a visit with the dietician are required before the medications are prescribed.

What Medications are available?

You have the choice, in consultation with your physician, on several weight-loss medications, including:

  • Phentermine -- approved for use in the 1960s and is one of the most popular prescription weight loss medications. This medication works to decrease your appetite and also increases your energy level. It is in pill form and is taken once daily. Side effects may include agitation or insomnia. Some patients may experience an increase in blood pressure or heart rate when taking the medication.
  • Orlistat -- enhances weight loss by reducing the absorption of dietary fat. This pill is usually taken three times daily. Side effects may include diarrhea and, rarely, kidney stones.
  • Liraglutide -- conceived initially as a medication for diabetes. It is now also approved in the US for weight loss. This is a once-daily injectable used to decrease appetite, increase the sensation of fullness after meals, and improve your metabolism. One of the possible side effects is an upset stomach.
  • Topiramate -- a commonly prescribed medication for seizure disorders and depression. It can also be prescribed by itself or with phentermine to improve weight loss by decreasing appetite. This is a once-daily pill medication.
  • Bupropion/naltrexone -- this combination pill acts at the "reward center" of the brain to reduce food cravings and enhance weight loss.

When considering medication to combat obesity, you may want to consider these factors:

  • The possible side effects
  • Your current health issues and other medications you take
  • Your family's medical history
  • Cost
  • The likely benefits of weight loss

Don't Just Take Our Word For It

When Danielle Cooper found herself unable to lose the weight she gained after back-to-back pregnancies, she tried diets, exercise, and limiting her food intake- nothing worked. And then, her doctor recommended that she make an appointment with Dr. Christopher Taglia, DABS, a weight loss surgeon at Lompoc Health. After discussing various options with Dr. Taglia, Danielle opted to try a medication weight loss program.

"I feel like a whole different person," Danielle says. "It was the best thing I've ever done. If I hadn't done it when I did it, I would have only gotten worse and caused my body more detrimental long-term damage. And I would have just been unhappy with myself, especially with everything going on right now. If I hadn't done it and continued to gain, and been stuck at home through all this (pandemic), it would have gotten ten times worse."

- Danielle Cooper, Medical Weight-loss Patient

Read more of Danielle's story on our blog - read it here.

Are You Considering Weight-loss Medication?

Research has shown that even a minor weight loss, even as low as 5 percent of your body weight, can lead to favorable decreases in blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose levels, and more.

Losing weight may also help improve other weight-related concerns such as joint pain. Generally, most of the weight loss associated with a prescription occurs within the first six months. Be aware, however, that pregnant women should never take weight-loss medications. Women who are planning to get pregnant should also avoid these prescriptions. Please consult with your physician.