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Do Weight Loss Medications Really Work?

  • Mar 20, 2024


Weight loss medications are prescription drugs that assist in managing obesity by reducing appetite and food cravings. These medications can be an option for individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, or a BMI of 27 with weight-related health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.

These meds aid in managing obesity effectively. They work by suppressing appetite, boosting metabolism. Some help block fat absorption, aiding weight loss. When used with diet and exercise, results improve.

Types of Weight Loss Medications

Orlistat (Xenical, Alli):

  • Blocks fat absorption in the digestive system.
  • Prescribed for BMI over 30 or over 27 with obesity-related conditions.
  • Side effects: oily stools, flatulence, abdominal discomfort.
  • Monitor fat-soluble vitamin levels during treatment.

Phentermine-Topiramate (Qsymia):

  • Suppresses appetite and increases fullness.
  • Prescribed for BMI over 30 or over 27 with weight-related comorbidities.
  • Side effects: dry mouth, constipation, tingling sensations.
  • Monitor blood pressure due to potential increases.

Naltrexone-Bupropion (Contrave):

  • Targets brain’s appetite control center.
  • Prescribed for BMI over 30 or over 27 with obesity-related conditions.
  • Side effects: nausea, headache, constipation.
  • Monitor for signs of depression or suicidal thoughts.

Liraglutide (Saxenda):

  • Regulates appetite and food intake.
  • Indicated for BMI over 30 or over 27 with weight-related comorbidities.
  • Side effects: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
  • Monitor heart rate and signs of pancreatitis.

Semaglutide (Wegovy):

  • GLP-1 receptor agonist for chronic weight management.
  • Prescribed for BMI over 30 or over 27 with obesity-related conditions.
  • Side effects: gastrointestinal issues like nausea, diarrhea.
  • Monitor for thyroid tumors and pancreatitis signs.

Setmelanotide (Imcivree):

  • Melanocortin-4 receptor agonist for genetic obesity disorders.
  • Indicated for specific genetic mutations causing severe obesity.
  • Side effects: injection site reactions, hyperpigmentation, appetite changes.
  • Regular monitoring for weight loss progress and genetic testing.

Who Can Use Weight Loss Medications?

Determining Factors for Prescribing Weight Loss Medications:

  • Consideration of an individual’s BMI.
  • BMI requirements typically 30 or higher.
  • Lower BMI threshold of 27 for weight-related health conditions.

Additional Considerations:

  • Evaluation of current health conditions.
  • Assessment of age and medication history.
  • Review of family medical background.

How Weight Loss Medications Work in the Body:

Anti-obesity medications function in various ways, such as reducing hunger, altering fat absorption, or targeting cravings and food preferences.

Newer injectable medications, repurposed from diabetes treatments, have gained attention for their weight loss effects.

Effectiveness and Duration of Use:

Weight loss medications like phentermine/topiramate-ER and naltrexone/bupropion have shown significant long-term weight loss results, comparable to clinical trials.
These medications are designed for chronic use to manage obesity effectively over time, similar to treatments for other chronic conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.

Expected Weight Loss Percentages and Timelines for Treatment Success:

Patients are typically expected to achieve at least a 5% body weight loss within the first three months of treatment, with a target of 10% or more by six months for optimal results.
Sustained weight loss of 5% or more is considered clinically successful, with higher percentages indicating greater progress towards weight management goals.


Dr. Samir Al Rahmani, a top surgeon in Dubai, advises regular follow-up after surgery with your doctor. This follow-up is important for tracking progress, addressing concerns, and ensuring a good recovery. By stressing the need for ongoing check-ups, Dr. Rahmani shows his dedication to patient care and successful outcomes in surgery.


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