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When Your Doctor Prescribes Weight Loss

When your health’s at risk, it’s time to get serious.

Medications for Weight Loss continued...

Medications for weight loss are not for everybody, though. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, sibutramine is not a safe choice. Orlistat may interfere with the absorption of some vitamins and medications. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any form of orlistat. 

Experts recommend you stay away from any supplements for weight loss that have not been approved by the FDA, such as ephedra or ma huang, as they may have serious health consequences.

Finally, remember that even if you and your doctor decide to use medication to help with your weight loss, it’s still essential for you to follow a healthy eating and exercise plan.

Surgery for Weight Loss

If your BMI is 35 or higher, you might be a candidate for weight loss surgery. 

Options that you can discuss with a doctor who specializes in bariatric surgery are banded gastroplasty and gastric bypass surgery.

In banded gastroplasty, a band is placed around the upper portion of your stomach to limit the amount of food it can hold at one time.

For gastric bypass surgery, a small stomach pouch is created with a bypass around the area of your small intestine that absorbs the majority of the food you’ve eaten. 

These procedures carry with them the risk of serious side effects and will require a lifelong commitment to diet and exercise for you to remain healthy. But if your weight is causing significant harm or risk to your health and you haven’t been able to lose weight with diet and exercise alone, surgery may be the best option for you.

“Most patients who come to see me who need to lose 100 pounds or more don’t want surgery because they’re scared,” Apovian says. “I don’t think anyone should be pushed into surgery, but I do think people should look into it as a viable option. It will take away years of frustration, of losing weight and gaining it back. For people whose health is at risk, perhaps due to diabetes or hypertension, in one year they can lose all the weight they need to lose with gastric bypass.”

How Can I Stay Motivated for Long-Term Weight Loss?

For starters, pat yourself on the back for making the commitment to lose weight for health reasons. The road to weight loss can be long and frustrating, so be sure to take time to recognize your hard work.

Remind yourself why weight loss is important to you. Perhaps your goal is to stay off blood pressure-lowering medication, or maybe you want to be able to play baseball with your kids in the backyard.

Finally, remember that there are thousands of individuals out there who have been able to lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off. The National Weight Control Registry has more than 5,000 members who have lost 30 pounds or more. Try visiting the registry’s web site to read success stories and find out what worked for other people.

Just think, in a few years you, too, could join the registry as a successful "loser" and serve as an inspiration to others.

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Reviewed on August 27, 2010

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