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Wegovy: the complete story on weight loss medications

Over the past few months, it has been difficult, if not impossible, to avoid hearing about new weight loss medications on the market. But the conversation around these new options can be confusing. At Tryon Medical Partners, Dr. Harold Springs, a general endocrinologist, sheds light on new medications for weight loss, aiming to provide clarity amid the current landscape of weight management treatments. 

Dr. Springs’ day-to-day work revolves around adult patients, ages 18 and older, focusing on conditions such as diabetes and thyroid diseases. He has been prescribing Ozempic for years to treat diabetes, but recently these conversations have shifted to its counterpart, Wegovy, for weight loss. He answers key patient questions below. 

How do medications like Wegovy work?

At its core, Ozempic and its weight loss counterpart, Wegovy, function within the gastrointestinal system. These medications manipulate hormone pathways to induce an earlier feeling of fullness and slow down food absorption, which contributes to weight loss. However, Dr. Springs notes that this process can cause some uncomfortable side effects, like bloating. 

“Patients may be going to clinics where they’re prescribed a weight loss medication like Wegovy without knowing the potential side effects,” Dr. Springs cautions. “It’s important that they’re aware of the potential for bloating, constipation, nausea, and in rare cases gastroparesis, which is a disorder that slows or stops the movement of food from your stomach to your small intestine.” 

Should I consider taking medication like Wegovy?

When considering the use of medication for weight loss, Dr. Springs suggests that patients have some sort of medical need. This often means eligible patients should be obese, as defined by a BMI over 30. For those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or other obesity-related conditions they may be eligible for medication when BMI is greater than 27. Even when patients meet criteria for weight loss medications they may have to contact their insurance to be sure that their insurance will cover  weight loss medications generally.   Without insurance coverage, the cost can be significant, around $1600 per month for Wegovy specifically. Any patients considering medications like Wegovy should also be aware of the potential costs.  

“When I’m thinking about patients who might benefit from a weight loss medication like Wegovy, first and foremost, they have to be in the position of needing to lose weight and have attempted to lose weight on their own unsuccessfully,” Dr. Springs notes. “They should also be eager to adjust their lifestyle over the long-term to complement the impact of a medication like Wegovy.” 

If I were to take Wegovy, what should I keep in mind?

Dr. Springs provides guidance for those using Wegovy or similar medications, emphasizing the importance of lifestyle changes, like a balanced diet and regular exercise. He cautions against expecting drastic, unsustainable results, urging individuals to focus on overall health rather than fixating on achieving a particular body size. Seeking professional guidance from doctors and certified nutritionists is crucial, considering the complexity of the weight loss process.

“Medications like Wegovy alone can’t be a magic solution for weight loss,” Dr. Springs emphasizes. “Just like any weight loss strategy, rebound weight gain is a possibility, which is why it’s important to approach it as part of a holistic, long-term plan rather than a quick fix.” 

Establish a relationship with a Tryon clinician today to learn more about medications for weight loss or to begin your weight loss journey.