By Michele Cooper, M.D.
4 Minute Read:
As a plastic surgeon, I regularly see patients seeking tummy tucks or liposuction who could benefit from weight loss before surgery. While tummy tucks and liposuction can drastically improve a patient’s figure, they do little to reduce their weight. As the patient’s body mass index or BMI increases over 25, their risk of having surgical or post-surgical complications increases too. For these patients, weight loss prior to surgery not only improves patients’ cosmetic results but also reduces the risk of complications during and after surgery.
After researching the use and efficacy of semaglutide for weight loss, I began using this medication to assist my patients in obtaining their ideal weight. The results were unprecedented, with myself and the patient excited about the changes we saw.
But even more important than their new self-confidence was that the patients were healthier than before!
Semaglutide: A Brief Overview
Semaglutide is more commonly known by its trade names Ozempic®and Wegovy®, while tirzepatide is commonly known as Mounjaro®. Both semaglutide and tirzepatide stimulate receptors for a gut hormone released after eating, called Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 (“GLP-1”). The main functions of GLP-1 are as follows:
- Stimulates insulin secretion, thus, lowering blood glucose.
- Slows the emptying of the stomach; and
- Works on receptors in the brain to give a feeling of fullness or satiety.
Mounjaro® adds a second hormone receptor agonist called Glucose-Dependent Insulinotropic Polypeptide (“GIP”), which also increases glucose-induced insulin secretion and helps regulate body weight but, unlike GLP-1, adds fat and energy production as a target.
The combination of GLP-1 and GIP receptor agonists is significantly more effective than either GLP-1 RA or GIP -1 RA alone for:
- Weight loss.
- Reduction of HbA1c (“hemoglobin A1C,” a form of hemoglobin that is chemically linked to sugar and is measured by the amount of blood sugar, or glucose, attached to an individual’s hemoglobin); and
- Lowering blood glucose levels.
Why Is This Exciting?
Obesity is now recognized for what it is: a legitimate chronic medical condition that is directly related to metabolic hormone insufficiencies.
According to the most recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), approximately 4 out of every 10 adults and approximately one out of every five children in America suffer from obesity. Knowing what hormones lead to obesity and creating drugs to target them can help make obesity a disease of the past and may lengthen life spans by decreasing the morbidities related to obesity, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The implications of drugs like semaglutide and tirzepatide are momentous, as a substantial portion of our population suffers from obesity and stands to benefit from these innovative treatments.
Who Should Ask Their Doctor About These Treatments?
- Individuals with type 2 Diabetes, and/or
- Individuals with a body mass index (“BMI”) over 26 (Calculate your BMI here).
- Individuals with polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Individuals with metabolic syndrome.
** Although these drugs are not FDA-approved for all the medical conditions above, they can be prescribed off-label if your physician thinks you may benefit.
How Are These Drugs Prescribed?
A physician must evaluate a patient’s need for treatment and provide a prescription if treatment is warranted. Ultimately, every insurer and every insurance policy may vary on their terms of coverage for these medications. However, most will require your physician to obtain prior authorization and will require prior treatment for type 2 diabetes. Name-brand drugs Ozempic®, Wegovy®, and Mounjaro® are available at your local pharmacy and covered by insurance with varying copays. If not covered by insurance, the name brands will cost approximately $900 or more per month. Currently, a compounded prescription of semaglutide or tirzepatide is available at a lower price range of $190 to $400 per month, depending on dosing. This is available until the shortage of the brand name products is ended.
**To best safeguard patients, the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy has instituted sanctions for any prescriber or pharmacy that distributes anything other than FDA-approved semaglutide and tirzepatide from approved compounding pharmacies. The pharmacy and product utilized by Michele Cooper, MD, currently uses those approved providers.
Semaglutide for Weight Loss in New Orleans, LA
If you think you are a good candidate for treatment and would like to find out more, please call my office at 985-626-6163.