Weight Loss Pills – The Good and the Bad

July 23, 2018

Weight loss pills have always been part of a dieter’s consciousness. After trying diet, exercise, fad diets and more, many patients believe that medication or supplements to lose weight are a viable option. However, these drugs, while benefiting some, come with a long list drawbacks.

The dangers of weight loss medication supplements came to the forefront a few decades ago with the introduction and subsequent removal of fenfluramine/phentermine (fen-phen) from the weight loss market. While many patients showed excellent results, the risks of taking fen-phen were simply too high and ultimately the drug combination is no longer sold. To this day, memories of fen-phen have colored the medication-based weight loss market.

Fast-forward a decade or two and newfangled extract-based weight loss supplements, largely unregulated by the FDA have become very popular as well. However, once again, we have found these pills, when taken in excess or by certain susceptible patients, can contribute to heart troubles, liver failure and other organ damage.

Most recently, an FDA regulated phentermine-based drug has hit the market for those seeking significant weight loss. This drug, Qsymia, has shown promising results for significant and sustained weight loss. So why not use these drugs as the first and last line of defense against obesity?

  1. First, drugs have side effects. Even mild side effects can cause negative changes in the patient’s lifestyle. While drugs are only approved when the perceived benefit is significantly greater than the overall risk, that does not mean that individual patients will not react differently or more seriously to the drug.
  2. Drugs only work while you take them. In fact, most patients begin to regain weight immediately after stopping the drug, because the underlying issue is not resolved. Ultimately, if an effective long-term weight loss program is not part of treatment, drug therapy may not last.
  3. Drug effectiveness decreases with long-term use. Over time, many drugs begin to lose their effectiveness and no longer offer the benefit they once did. This can be especially frustrating for a patient who has been on a medication regimen for quite a while, but ultimately fails as the drug loses its effectiveness.

For these reasons and more, weight loss surgery is still the most effective long-term treatment option for morbid obesity. Patients have a lifelong support team in the form of our office and their peers dedicated to their continued weight loss and better health.

To be sure, there are patients for whom medications are better than surgery – especially for those we’re not candidates for surgery or have unacceptably high risk. For most however, bariatric surgery is a safe and effective option to improve or eliminate the diseases associated with obesity. We invite you to learn more by attending one of our free informational seminars either in person or online. Doctors Muhammad Feteiha, Joao Lopes and James Lopes hold these seminars twice monthly to educate our patients on the benefits and risks of surgical intervention for obesity.

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Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
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