Obesity Reporter

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Ozempic vs. Bariatric Surgery

Ozempic vs. Bariatric Surgery

There has been a spike in interest in weight loss therapies, particularly with the emergence of new medications like Ozempic. Fueled by social media, Ozempic is becoming mainstream for celebrities and the general public. However, the more potent and cost-effective alternative, bariatric surgery, has been around since the 1950s.

Bariatric surgery is considered the “gold standard” of treatment for obesity and related diseases.

We compared bariatric surgery with the anti-obesity weight drug Ozempic, examining their effectiveness, side effects, costs, and other factors to help you make an informed decision about which treatment is right for you.

Ozempic vs. Bariatric Surgery

Overview of Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is a life-changing procedure that provides a way to lose weight and improve overall health. While gastric sleeve surgery has become increasingly popular over the years, other options are available.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery (VSG) is a minimally invasive operation done through a tiny incision(s) in the abdominal wall to resect a large part (80%) of the stomach.

With the newly constructed stomach pouch, portion control can become a lifelong habit and help lower caloric consumption. Patients report lessened hunger, enhance satiety, and remission of disorders linked to fat, such as diabetes.

Overview of Ozempic

Ozempic (Semaglutide) is a medication developed initially by Novo Nordisk for treating diabetes but has caught on as a weight-loss drug. It is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that mimics the action of the hormone GLP-1, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and suppresses appetite.

“Everyone is suddenly showing up 25 pounds lighter. What happens when they stop taking Ozempic ?????” – Andy Cohen

Wegovy was approved by the FDA for weight loss and has a similar ingredient as Ozempic with a higher maximum dose.

A newer generation of such anit-obesity drugs, Mounjaro (Tirzepatide) manufactured by Eli Lilly & Co., is helping to drop even more pounds because it mimics two hormones instead of one. Mounjaro is stronger because it simulates GLP-1 and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptides.

Effectiveness of Gastric Sleeve and Ozempic

Excess Weight Loss with Gastric Sleeve

  • Patients lose 20-35% of their initial body weight
  • Patients lose 60-80% of excess weight ranging from 70-110 pounds
  • This is 2-3 times the average weight loss seen with Ozempic

Excess Weight Loss with Ozempic

  • Patients lose an average of 5-10% of their initial weight or about 15 pounds.
  • Patients lose 14% of excess weight.

While these results are impressive compared to other weight reduction medications, they are still modest compared to the weight loss achieved through gastric sleeve surgery.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery Side Effects

Gastric sleeve surgery has a relatively low rate of side effects.

  • Acid reflux symptoms
  • Blood clots
  • leak

These risks are very low with highly qualified surgeons.

Ozempic Side Effects

In clinical studies, 74.2% of patients taking Ozempic experienced side effects such as

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • injection-site reactions
  • renal failure
  • Pancreatitis
  • Thyroid tumors (cancer)
  • Hypoglycemia
  • intestinal obstruction
  • Sagging and aging of facial skin, “Ozempic face.”
  • weight regain in 5 years

People should report to a physician if they feel a lump or swelling in their neck or experience hoarseness, trouble swallowing, or shortness of breath.

Diabetes Management

Both gastric sleeve surgery and Ozempic are effective in managing diabetes. Some patients who undergo gastric sleeve surgery experience remission of their diabetes, while Ozempic antidiabetic medication has powerful effects on blood sugar levels.

Cancer Management

Bariatric surgery is proven to lower the risks of obesity-related cancer by 50%.

In a retrospective cohort study involving 55,789 participants who underwent bariatric surgery. After a 10-year follow-up, patients that underwent bariatric surgery had significantly decreased rates for endometrial, breast, colon, liver, pancreatic, and all other types of cancer.

Ozempic (Semaglutide) can increase the risk of thyroid cancer and cause thyroid tumors.

Cost of Ozempic vs. Gastric Sleeve Surgery

One significant drawback of Ozempic is its indefinite high cost. Without insurance coverage, a one-month supply of Ozempic can cost around $1,368. Long-term use of this medication can quickly accumulate, with ten years of therapy costing $164,160.

To maintain the weight loss achieved with Ozempic, patients must take it continuously. Discontinuing the medication may cause weight to regain, and some patients who stopped taking Ozempic experienced increased hunger hormone signals, resulting in even more weight gain than before

Cost of Gastric Sleeve Surgery

In comparison, gastric sleeve surgery is a one-time expense, with costs averaging around $15,000 in the United States and $5,000 in Mexico.

While this may seem high initially, it is significantly lower than the long-term cost of Ozempic. Additionally, many insurance providers cover bariatric surgery, making it even more affordable for patients.

Insurance Coverage for Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Many insurance providers, including Medicare, cover gastric sleeve surgery if patients meet
specific criteria, such as a BMI of 35 or higher and at least one obesity-related comorbidity.

medicaid coverage ozempic

Insurance Coverage for Ozempic

Insurance companies will not cover weight loss medication Ozempic for thinness or metabolic syndrome. Some insurance companies will cover Ozempic if patients are diagnosed with diabetes and at least one condition associated with obesity.

Patients should explore their insurance options and discuss them with their healthcare providers.

Other Weight Loss Options

Mini gastric sleeve, coined mini-VSG, is a less-invasive scaled-down version of the traditional gastric sleeve. Instead of removing 80% of the stomach like the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, the mini sleeve reduces the stomach size by 40-50%.

Gastric bypass surgery (RNY) involves altering the stomach and small intestine to create a small, golf ball-sized pouch in the stomach to reduce appetite and limit food intake. The small intestine is also rerouted to allow food to be digested more quickly and absorb fewer calories into the body. Resulting in significant weight loss, improvement in obesity-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, and improved quality of life. However, it is a more invasive surgery than a gastric sleeve and has a longer recovery period.

Mini gastric bypass is similar to traditional gastric bypass but with a smaller stomach pouch and a simpler rerouting of the intestines. It has been shown to produce effective weight loss and reduce the risks of obesity-related health conditions.

Duodenal switch surgery (DS) combines a sleeve gastrectomy with a bypass of the upper small intestine. This procedure results in more weight loss than gastric bypass and can lead to improvements in conditions such as high blood pressure and sleep apnea. However, it also has a higher risk of complications and nutrient deficiencies due to malabsorption.

Combination of Surgery and Medication

Some experts suggest that semaglutide can be combined with bariatric surgery for more dramatic and longer-lasting results. This approach may help prevent weight regain after surgery and improve overall weight loss outcomes. Experts are claiming Mounjaro produces better results than Wegovy and Ozempic.

Regardless of the chosen weight loss treatment, diet and exercise remain crucial components in achieving and maintaining weight loss. Gastric sleeve surgery and Ozempic are most effective when combined with a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Making the Right Decision

Choosing between gastric sleeve surgery and Ozempic for weight loss is a decision that should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider. Each treatment has its advantages and drawbacks, and the best choice will depend on your individual needs, medical history, and preferences.

Gastric sleeve surgery offers more significant weight loss, lower long-term costs, and a relatively low rate of side effects compared to Ozempic. However, Ozempic remains a viable option for those who prefer a less invasive approach to weight loss or who may not be candidates for surgery.

Which option do you think is best for you? Tell us in the comments below.


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