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Could weight loss medication help after bariatric surgery?

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OK, so you read this headline and are probably wondering: Why would you possibly need prescription weight loss meds if you’ve had bariatric surgery? Shouldn’t the procedure be enough to fast-track weight loss? We like good questions like these—and helping to answer them. So here goes. 

If you have a BMI of 40 or above and haven’t been able to make the scale digits budge through other measures—like healthier, diet, exercise, and sleep habits—bariatric surgery is often the gold standard in weight care. Research shows that it can help you lose weight, keep it off, and decrease the risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Still, Rekha Kumar, MD, Found’s Chief Medical Officer, says that sometimes medication needs to be added to get the best results. It might seem counterintuitive, but it could make a real difference.  

Life after bariatric surgery

“Bariatric procedures result in weight loss beyond what would be expected from caloric restriction and are associated with reduced appetite and increased satiety,” notes Dr. Kumar. These are huge wins and can be powerful factors in your weight care journey. But the amount of weight loss after surgery varies from person to person—and it’s not uncommon for patients to hit weight-loss plateaus or even gain weight. How is that possible? 

Well, maybe you remember learning about set weight point and metabolic adaptation. These natural processes can happen when your body senses that your weight has shifted from what it considers to be “normal.” And that can make it more challenging to reach your goals—even for some bariatric patients. According to Dr. Kumar, surgery alone doesn’t target every angle needed to fight the body's ability to regain weight and return to its higher setpoint. She adds that in cases like this, medication may be the breakthrough. Research shows that when patients are prescribed weight loss medications following bariatric surgery, they may experience additional weight loss benefits and be able to keep it off. (Pause for clapping.) Think about it: If several tools are available to combat obesity, why not use more than one if you can? 

Could medication be right for you? 

No two weight loss paths are the same, and there’s no blanket guideline about when or if people should start medication. But if you’re a bariatric patient and have hit a weight-loss plateau or have noticed the pounds creeping back on, talk to your doctor about your options. Dr. Kumar points out that patients might even start sooner if they report increased hunger and cravings despite being on the right track with weight loss. 

Reaching your weight care goals

 Found’s mission is to make you aware of all your options and give you the best chance of achieving a healthy weight, and that might mean using medication following bariatric surgery to reach your goals. Keep open discussions with your health care provider and keep an eye on your hunger, appetite, and the number on the scale. You’ll get there—and we’re here for you. 


About Found

Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, serving more than 200,000 members to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.

  • Estimate of Bariatric Surgery Numbers, 2011-2020. (2022, June 27). American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://asmbs.org/resources/estimate-of-bariatric-surgery-numbers
  • Istfan, N. W., Anderson, W. A., Hess, D. T., Yu, L., Carmine, B., & Apovian, C. M. (2020, May 22). The Mitigating Effect of Phentermine and Topiramate on Weight Regain After Roux‐en‐Y Gastric Bypass Surgery. Obesity, 28(6), 1023–1030. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22786
  • Kumar, R. B., Srivastava, G., Reid, T. J., & Aronne, L. J. (2021, November 2). Understanding the pathophysiologic pathways that underlie obesity and options for treatment. Expert Review of Endocrinology &Amp; Metabolism, 16(6), 321–338. https://doi.org/10.1080/17446651.2021.1991310
  • R. Kumar, personal communication, October 4, 2022
  • Redmond, I. P., Shukla, A. P., & Aronne, L. J. (2021, January 25). Use of Weight Loss Medications in Patients after Bariatric Surgery. Current Obesity Reports, 10(2), 81–89. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-021-00425-1
  • Stanford, F. C., Alfaris, N., Gomez, G., Ricks, E. T., Shukla, A. P., Corey, K. E., Pratt, J. S., Pomp, A., Rubino, F., & Aronne, L. J. (2017, March). The utility of weight loss medications after bariatric surgery for weight regain or inadequate weight loss: A multi-center study. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, 13(3), 491–500. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soard.2016.10.018
  • Who is a Candidate for Bariatric Surgery? | Patients | ASMBS. (n.d.). American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://asmbs.org/patients/who-is-a-candidate-for-bariatric-surgery

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