Wegovy (semaglutide) and Ozempic (semaglutide) are medications that are FDA-approved for the treatment of obesity and can lead to significant weight loss. However, while these medications can be effective for weight management, they are not substitutes for weight loss surgery in certain cases. Here are some reasons why:
- Degree of weight loss: Weight loss surgery, such as gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy, typically results in more significant and sustained weight loss compared to medications like Wegovy or Ozempic. Bariatric surgery can result in an average weight loss of 60-80% of excess body weight, whereas these medications may lead to an average weight loss of 10-15% of total body weight.
- Mechanism of action: Wegovy and Ozempic are GLP-1 receptor agonists, which work by reducing appetite, increasing satiety, and slowing down stomach emptying. They also have other beneficial effects on blood sugar control and cardiovascular health. However, weight loss surgery works through a combination of mechanisms, including restriction of food intake and alteration of gut hormones, leading to significant changes in metabolism and hormonal regulation of appetite.
- Long-term sustainability: Weight loss surgery can lead to long-term weight loss maintenance in many cases, as it helps to reset the body’s metabolism and hormonal regulation of appetite. On the other hand, medications like Wegovy and Ozempic require ongoing use to maintain weight loss, and discontinuing these medications may result in weight regain in some individuals.
- Eligibility and safety considerations: Weight loss surgery is typically recommended for individuals with severe obesity (BMI 40 or higher, or BMI 35-40 with significant obesity-related health conditions) who have not been successful with other conservative weight loss measures. These surgeries are generally safe and effective when performed by experienced bariatric surgeons in appropriate candidates. On the other hand, medications like Wegovy and Ozempic have specific eligibility criteria and safety considerations, and may not be suitable for everyone due to contraindications, side effects, or other factors.
It’s important to note that the decision to undergo weight loss surgery or use medications for weight management should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional, taking into consideration individual health status, medical history, and personal preferences. A comprehensive weight management plan may include a combination of diet, exercise, medications, and/or weight loss surgery, depending on individual needs and circumstances.