Bariatric Medications for Weight Loss
Bariatric medications can be a wonderful adjunct in the overall plan to attain healthy weight goals. In addition to diet and exercise, weight loss medications are used in multiple settings to aid in the process of achieving a healthy BMI (body mass index). These medications work to curb hunger and improve impulse control which can lead to poor dietary choices.
To qualify for these medications, your BMI must be greater than 27, with at least one medical condition that is made worse by obesity. High blood pressure, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol are examples of such conditions. A BMI of 30 or more can be treated even if there are no other medical conditions present.
The goal for weight loss using medications is a minimum of 5% of total body weight loss over a period of 3 months. Most patients experience weight loss between 5% to 10% over the first three months using these medications.
Phentermine works to curb appetite and is the most prescribed weight loss medication. It has been on the market for many years with an excellent history of inducing weight loss. There are several commercial names for phentermine.
Belviq also helps to suppress appetite and works through the brain’s serotonin receptor pathway to do this. Belviq is unique in that dosing does not require a phase-in period nor does it require a tapering off period when it is time to discontinue the medication.
Contrave is a combination medication of naltrexone and bupropion. The exact mechanism of action is not well known, but generally works to suppress appetite and improve impulse control. This medication is phased in over a four week period and requires a two week taper at the end of treatment.
Qsymia is a combination medication containing phentermine hydrochloride and topiramate. It works similarly to the other weight loss medications with the added benefit of topiramate. Similar to Contrave, this medication will require a phase-in period to reach treatment dosing, and a taper period is also recommended.