With obesity affecting more than 40% of American adults, it’s no secret that effective weight loss strategies are one of the most sought-after health solutions in the country. From fad diets to exercise regimens, herbs, supplements, and more, there’s no shortage of approaches to take and products to try.
That being said, weight loss isn’t always as simple as cutting out desserts and going for a walk a few times a week. While lifestyle changes related to diet and exercise fundamentally underpin healthy weight loss, for many people, other interventions are also necessary.
Medical weight loss solutions include prescription weight loss drugs as well as weight loss surgeries (known as bariatric surgeries). But even these solutions aren’t always as effective as medical professionals and patients wish they would be. Weight gain can recur even after weight was lost surgically (known as weight recurrence) or with the help of medication.
Sometimes, the strategic combination of bariatric surgery and weight loss medications can be highly impactful.
Let’s take a look:
What Is Ozempic (Semaglutide)?
Recently, the brand-name drugs Ozempic and Wegovy (semaglutide) have garnered a lot of attention as cutting-edge weight loss medications. Ozempic was originally developed for treating adults with Type 2 Diabetes and related cardiovascular disease, but its off-label weight loss benefits soon propelled its manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, to research its efficacy for weight loss alone.
Though Ozempic remains indicated for Type 2 Diabetes patients only (with prescriptions for weight loss considered off-label), Wegovy was FDA-approved as a weight loss drug in 2021. The only difference between Ozempic and Wegovy is their dosage—Ozempic comes in therapeutic doses of 0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg, while Wegovy’s standard dose is 2.4 mg.
Semaglutide (the active ingredient in both Ozempic and Wegovy) is known as a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. In simple terms, this means that it imitates a hormone produced during digestion which stimulates the pancreatic release of insulin and signals multiple body systems that the digestive process is underway. It also slows down gastric emptying (the rate at which food is emptied from the stomach into the small intestine), which slows down digestion as a whole and decreases hunger over time.
What Is Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric surgery refers to a range of surgical procedures that are performed with the intention of promoting weight loss. These can include sleeve gastrectomy (where the size of the stomach is dramatically reduced), Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB) (where the size of the stomach is decreased and the small intestine is rerouted); Adjustable Gastric Banding (AGB) (where a silicone device is placed around the top part of the stomach to limit food intake), and more.
Ozempic Weight Loss Study Results
A recent medical research study spearheaded by Dr. Jaime P. Almandoz, MD, MBA, ofthe University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, examined the efficacy of Ozempic (semaglutide) vs. another weight loss drug (liraglutide) in helping patients maintain their initial weight loss post bariatric surgery.
The study examined the impact of a 1 mg dose of Ozempic administered weekly for a twelve-month period to 115 post-bariatric patients who had undergone either a sleeve gastrectomy (50%), a gastric bypass (29%), or adjustable gastric banding (21%) and were experiencing weight recurrence. The results found that, at the six-month mark, patients had lost an average of 8.6% of their body weight. After twelve months, they’d lost an average of 13.2% of their original body weight. Ozempic’s performance outshone liraglutide’s, which had previously been a go-to drug for weight recurrence after bariatric surgery.
Another recent study showed that weekly semaglutide injections helped post-endoscopic sleeve gastrectomy patients increase their weight loss. On average, participants lost 26.7% of their total body weight and 86.3% of their excess weight.
How Ozempic Helps Maintain Weight Loss
Ozempic helps maintain weight loss by slowing down the digestive process (gastric emptying) and communicating feelings of satiety (fullness) to the brain and other body systems. It essentially tricks your body into feeling fuller for longer and thereby helps to reduce cravings, snacking, and over-eating.
In conclusion, Ozempic (semaglutide) can be a highly effective option for maintaining weight loss after bariatric surgery. That being said, more research is needed to pinpoint the optimal semaglutide dosage for post-surgery weight maintenance. The studies cited in this post were conducted prior to the approval of Ozempic’s 2 mg dose or Wegovy’s 2.4 mg dose.
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