By now, you’ve probably heard about “miracle” weight loss drugs such as those sold under the brand names Ozempic® and Wegovy®. Celebrities and Tik-Tok videos have popularized the drug, claiming it has helped them shed pounds practically overnight. We’ve even heard from patients considering bariatric surgery that some physicians are recommending getting injections of semaglutide—the active ingredient used in those products—instead of undergoing weight loss surgery.
Is semaglutide an effective alternative to bariatric surgeries such as gastric sleeve and mini gastric bypass? We think it’s important that you have all of the facts when considering your options.
What Is Semaglutide?
Semaglutide is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring hormone that acts on appetite centers in the brain and gut, making you feel full after consuming less food than you would normally. It was developed in the early 2010s by a Danish pharmaceutical company to treat type 2 diabetes, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for that use under the brand name Ozempic.
Diabetic patients prescribed Ozempic started reporting significant weight loss as a side effect, and further studies confirmed that the drug suppressed their appetites. The pharmaceutical company started selling semaglutide as a weight loss drug under the name Wegovy.
How Does Semaglutide Work?
As a treatment for diabetes, semaglutide increases the production of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar. At higher doses, it acts on centers in the brain and suppresses appetite. It also slows digestion, so you feel full sooner.
How Effective Is Semaglutide for Weight Loss?
Semaglutide is effective compared to other weight loss drugs on the market. A large clinical study showed that participants lost an average of 15% of their body weight after getting weekly injections for more than a year. Those results certainly sound good. The question, though, is how do they compare with the results of weight loss surgery.
Studies have shown that people achieve and maintain an average weight loss of 60% of excess body weight in the first year following the gastric sleeve or mini gastric bypass procedure. The procedure’s success depends on multiple factors, including your starting weight, your commitment to diet and exercise, and which surgery you choose. The best weight loss procedure for you will depend on your overall health, lifestyle, and weight loss goals.
Another thing to consider is that bariatric surgery performed by SmartShape® Weight Loss Centre surgeons is designed to produce steady, sustainable weight loss over time.
Semaglutide vs. Weight Loss Surgery
As you can see, bariatric surgery produces more significant weight loss than drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy. But there are some other factors to consider when comparing which is the most effective treatment for obesity.
Bariatric surgery is a one-time procedure: A minimally invasive treatment such as gastric sleeve surgery or mini gastric bypass doesn’t require additional surgery. Semglutide injections need to be continued indefinitely on a weekly basis to maintain weight loss. In one semaglutide study, patients regained two-thirds of the weight they had lost when they stopped taking the drug.
Side effects: Some risks are associated with any surgery, but serious complications are relatively rare. The study of semaglutide cited earlier reported that 74% of patients experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.
Cost: Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar treatments cost about $1,000 a month. Their popularity has led to a shortage, which has increased the price. Bariatric surgery is a one-time cost that, over several years, will be much less compared to semaglutide. And SmartShape offers an exclusive 5-year AfterCare Success Program that’s included in the price of every bariatric weight loss surgery we perform.
Begin Your Weight Loss Journey
The health benefits of losing weight are many, especially if you have underlying medical conditions related to obesity. If you’ve been considering bariatric surgery, we encourage you to meet with one of our surgeons. You can request a free consultation using the online form to discuss your health history and weight loss program goals. You can also call us at (888) 278-7952 to schedule an appointment.