Should you consider weight-loss medication?

It feels like you've tried everything. From keto to paleo to jogging, you’ve lost significant amounts of weight only to gain it right back.

You’re in good company: One out of every three Americans wants to lose weight. Weight loss can feel like an uphill battle — but when you find a way to gain ground, you will dramatically improve your quality of life and protect yourself against potentially life-threatening complications like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

At what point should I start thinking about weight loss medication?

The first question doctors will ask before prescribing medication is this: Are you already doing everything you can to lose weight through lifestyle changes like diet, exercise and mental health treatment? If the answer is yes — and your Body Mass Index (BMI) is 27 or higher — weight loss medication may be the next best step for you.

How does weight loss medication work?

The most commonly prescribed medication for weight loss is phentermine, which can be taken alone or in combination with topiramate. Phentermine is a stimulant that boosts your metabolism and works to suppress cravings, hunger pangs and mental fixation on food throughout the day.

How long will it take to see results?

With the right dosage, you should experience noticeable weight loss within a few months. That being said, these medications are not designed to be a shortcut to avoid behavioral changes. As with any medical intervention, your body can adapt and develop resistance, which minimizes the long-term effects of taking medication.

What side effects should I know about?

Phentermine can cause patients to feel overstimulated and unable to sleep. As stimulants typically increase your heart rate, you should avoid taking them if you suffer from high blood pressure or other cardiovascular conditions. They may also cause nausea due to a delay in the emptying of your stomach. Your physician can guide you to the appropriate medication based on your medical history.

What if weight loss medication doesn’t work for me?

If you’ve tried prescription medications without positive results, bariatric surgery may be a viable option for you. Over the past 30 to 40 years, bariatric surgery has become one of the most common operations performed in the United States. To qualify for the surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, we require a BMI of 40 — or a BMI of 35 if you suffer from obesity-related complications like diabetes, sleep apnea or high blood pressure.

Where can I go to discuss my options?

If you’re unsure about whether or not you're a suitable candidate for weight loss medication, I encourage you to make an appointment with the Comprehensive Weight Management Program here at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. We look forward to giving you the tools you need to meet your goals.

Ready to learn more about weight management?

Ohio State's weight management team provides comprehensive care backed by one of the nation's leading academic health centers.

Expert care starts here


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