Obesity treatment: Medical therapy, weight loss medications and surgery

March 15, 2024

Denver Health weight loss drugs and bariatric surgery

As a bariatric surgeon, I have a unique perspective on weight loss strategies, including the use of weight loss medications in addition to surgery. Obesity is a chronic medical disease and should be treated by combining more than one method. In the case of high blood pressure (hypertension), your doctor will ask you to make lifestyle changes and prescribe you medications. In this example, both treatment methods work hand in hand. We in bariatric surgery and obesity medicine treat obesity in the same way. Weight loss medications can be a tool to complement weight loss surgery. In addition to anti-obesity medications, medically supervised weight loss includes nutritional support, psychological support and surgery. All of these work together to allow patients to meet their goal weight. Our goal in treating obesity is to have maximum weight loss and best outcomes for our patients, whether that be through weight loss medications or surgery or both working together.

Watch: Dr. Thomas from the Denver Health Bariatric Surgery Center talks about the rising popularity of injectable weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy in this FOX31 News interview.

What Does Weight Loss Medication Do?

Weight loss medications are designed to help you lose weight by going against the biological urges in your body that resulted in obesity, such as:

  • Curbing your appetite (appetite suppression).
  • Boosting your metabolism.
  • Preventing fat absorption.

Weight loss medications can be used in all stages of the weight loss journey. These medications can be used together with lifestyle changes to help you lose weight without surgery. They can also be used with bariatric surgery.


Benefits of Losing Weight Before Bariatric Surgery

Weight loss before bariatric surgery has definitive benefits. From the surgeon's perspective, the surgery is less technically challenging in a less obese individual, and after surgery there is a lower likelihood of complications and better outcomes. In higher weight people who don't qualify for bariatric surgery, weight loss medication could help you lose weight to qualify.


Benefits of Losing Weight After Bariatric Surgery

We also know that years after undergoing bariatric surgery, some patients regain some of the weight they lost or maybe reach a weight loss plateau or haven't lost enough weight. Anti-obesity medications have been shown to be effective in treating these instances of post-operative weight issues.


Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery and Medications Together

One thing I like to make clear to all my patients is that it is never just weight loss surgery or just weight loss medications. Both options can be used together and work together in the weight loss journey to a healthier you. Weight loss medications expand the options available especially for those who don't qualify for bariatric surgery or who prefer a non-surgical approach. Anti-obesity medications are also used with surgery and can be used after surgery to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

Talk with your primary care provider to discuss which options would be best for you. At the Denver Health Bariatric Surgery Center, we believe in carefully assessing each patient, providing in-person education and working together with an entire care team to make sure you have the best experience with your weight loss possible. For more information on our services for patients age 16-65, please watch our informational video and fill out the form at this link and then ask your provider for a bariatric nutrition and bariatric surgery referral to see me and my partners at the Denver Health Bariatric Surgery Center. We would love to work with you in your weight loss journey.