Learn About Medical Weight Loss

What are GLP-1 weight loss medications and how are they used for weight loss?

Semaglutide and Tirzepatide are medications that were originally approved to treat type 2 diabetes. Wegovy (Semaglutide) and Zepbound (Tirzepatide) have been approved by the FDA for use as weight loss treatment. Both medications are administered as a once-weekly at home injection and work by reducing appetite and slowing down the rate at which food is digested and absorbed.  GLP-1 (Glucagon-like peptide) is the active ingredient that causes these effects.  Tirzepatide also has GIP (Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) – another ingredient for weight loss for a dual effect.  Semaglutide is also known Ozempic and Wegovy which are the manufacturer names.  All contain Semaglutide.  Tirzepatide is also known as Mounjaro and Zepbound.  All contain Tirzepatide.

How effective are GLP-1 medications for weight loss?

In clinical trials, semaglutide has been shown to be highly effective for weight loss. Participants in the trials lost an average of 15-20% of their body weight over a period of 68 weeks. However, individual results may vary. Most patients notice at least some degree of weight loss much earlier.

Tirzepatide has been shown to have over 25% total body weight loss over a full course of treatment in a clinical trial.  Please note that participants were closely monitored and had nutritional assistance as well.

 

Who is a candidate for GLP-1 medical weight loss?

Semaglutide and Tirzepatide for weight loss is FDA approved for use in adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, or those with a BMI of 27 or greater who also have at least one weight-related health condition, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure. Candidacy will also depend on risk factors for severe adverse reactions discussed below. A provider from Flow Wellness will review risk factors for side effects based on your health history.

Semaglutide and Tirzepatide are currently in high demand. We strive to continue to have medication available to meet our clients’ needs. As is the case with all organizations providing this therapy, supply may change and continued access to the medication cannot be guaranteed indefinitely.

What role does diet and exercise play in the effectiveness of medical weight loss?

While GLP-1 medication can be highly effective for weight loss, it is important to remember that it does not cure obesity. Making healthy lifestyle changes is critical for achieving and maintaining long-term weight loss. Patients who do not change these habits will typically gain some or all of the weight back if medical weight loss is stopped. Semaglutide & Tirzepatide, however, can be a great way to kickstart body transformation and fat loss.

Are GLP-1 medications safe for weight loss?

Both medications have been shown to be safe and well-tolerated in clinical trials. However, like any medication, it can have side effects. Gastrointestinal side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are most common and many patients will experience these to some degree. Eating smaller meals will minimize nausea and abdominal discomfort for most patients and needing to stop GLP-1 medications because of these is rare.

All medications can cause serious problems in certain patients. In very rare cases, more serious side effects such as pancreatitis, kidney damage, and thyroid tumors can occur.

Additional uncommon reactions have been reported including: an appearance of age related changes to the face (as the fat in the face can be reduced as well). Eating a balanced diet with sufficient protein can help reduce the likelihood of this.

The risk of gallstones is increased with medical weight loss. This also occurs with weight loss without medication as well. Often, patients will have pain in their right upper abdomen, often worse after eating or at night if gallstones are becoming an issue.

Kidney injury can occur with medical weight loss, particularly for those patients with severe vomiting or diarrhea. GLP-1 medication should not be used by individuals with severe kidney disease or on dialysis. It is important to stay well hydrated while on medical weight loss therapy.

Any new medication such as Semaglutide or Tirzepatide may cause an allergic reaction. This can include a rash, facial or oral swelling, difficulty breathing. Do not take Semaglutide or Tirzepatide if you have an allergy to it or other GLP-1 agents.

GLP-1 medication can increase heart rate and contribute to/worsen symptoms of depression including suicidal thoughts.

For diabetics, low blood sugar can occur while taking GLP-1 medication with other insulin or insulin like products. GLP-1 medication is not safe in individuals with Type I diabetes.

Most patients who use GLP-1 medication do not have any of these rare reactions, but if you believe one of these conditions may be occuring, please stop this medication and contact your provider. If you believe you’re having an emergency, go to the local Emergency Department or call 911.

Are there any long-term effects associated with the use of GLP-1 medication for weight loss?

GLP-1 medications are relatively new and, therefore, the long-term effects of GLP-1 medications for weight loss are not yet fully understood.

It is important to note that weight loss achieved through use of GLP-1 medication (or any other medication) alone is unlikely to be sustained over the long term without making healthy lifestyle changes. including increasing physical activity and making conscientious choices around eating.

Can I use my insurance to cover medical weight loss treatments?

Flow Wellness does not accept insurance. Individuals with HSA or FSA accounts can often use these funds to cover health and wellness related treatments though. Check with your individual plan. Flow Wellness can provide receipts if necessary..

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