If you’re on the lookout for the best weight loss method, chances are you’ll encounter two popular options: Ozempic Therapy and Bariatric Surgery. These approaches vary considerably in terms of intervention, method of action, weight loss expectations, side effects, risks, and costs.

Bariatric procedures achieve profound fat reduction due to physical and hormonal changes in the body. In contrast, the Ozampic class of drugs lacks the mechanical effect and simulates only a small portion of naturally occurring hormonal changes in bariatrics.

The Ozempic class of injectables is the new kid on the block, while weight loss surgery is a proven and long-term solution for obese individuals. Here, we will break down the pros and cons of Bariatric Surgery and Ozempic to help you choose the best weight loss solution.

Weight Loss Treatment Options and Effectiveness - Comparing Ozempic

Overview

Ozempic® Tri-Zone

Ozempic® is a diabetes-targeted injectable that went viral after patients saw dramatic weight loss as an unintended side effect of taking the medication. These drugs became a sensation on social media and among celebrities to slim down.

Pharmaceuticals are raking in billions over overweight individuals becoming dependent and needing to take Ozempic forever.

 

Ozempic Dosage Schedule

New anti-obesity drugs contain synthetic GLP-1 agonists (Semaglutide) to mimic one of the many effects of bariatric surgery. While Ozempic is trending as an “off-label” fat-fighting pharmacological agent, it’s not FDA-approved for weight loss and may have serious ramifications for non-diabetic users. Wegovy is the only medication explicitly FDA-approved prescribed for weight loss at the present time.

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) sensitizes the body to insulin, lowers blood glucose levels, discourages fat tissue storage, slows gastric emptying, and suppresses appetite.

The once-weekly Semaglutide prescription is costly, and the recurring injection is time-consuming and inconvenient.

Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery

Bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, is a surgical approach to overcome obesity and is a more potent Ozempic alternative that has been around for decades. This minimally invasive medical procedure alters the stomach capacity or gastrointestinal anatomy to promote weight loss. The Changes in the digestive system physically limit the amount of food intake and naturally cause changes in neurohormonal gut peptides, including GLP-1.

Obesity surgery is a genuine form of losing extra body fat permanently as it changes the body’s set point, reversing comorbidities like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea.

While most bariatric surgeries are permanent (including gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and duodenal switch), some less effective procedures are reversible or short-term (including gastric balloon, endo-sleeve, and lap band). Depending on the bariatric technique, the operating time is 45 to 90 minutes, and subsequent recovery time is 1 to 3 weeks.

Bariatric Surgery or Ozempic Therapy

While Semaglutide medications have shown promising results, they still fall short compared to results from bariatric procedures. Ozempic therapy and weight loss surgery effectively treat Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). However, gastric procedures cure and reverse T2DM, while semaglutide injections only control it. Here are the eight main Ozempic and bariatrics differences:

1. Hormonal Changes

In bariatric operation, altered interaction between ingested food and the GI tract is not limited to increased secretion of GLP-1. It leads to higher levels of GLP-1, GIP, and Oxyntomodulin and lower levels of Ghrelin and Peptide YY (PYY). That is why gastric surgeries are effective and durable in losing weight and reversing comorbidities, including blood glucose levels.

A study of 55,789 patients who underwent bariatric surgery found a 50% reduction in cases of cancer linked to obesity.

HormoneBariatric SurgeryOzempic
GLP-1✅ Increased levels, leading to enhanced insulin secretion, reduced appetite, and slowed gastric emptying.✅ Mimics the effects of GLP-1, enhancing insulin secretion and suppressing appetite.
Ghrelin✅ Decreased levels, leading to reduced appetite and food intake.
PYY✅ Increased levels, promoting satiety and reducing food intake.
GIP✅ Increased levels, enhancing insulin secretion and improving blood sugar control.
Oxyntomodulin✅ Increased levels, suppressing appetite and slowing gastric emptying.
Insulin✅ Improved sensitivity and reduced resistance, leading to better blood glucose regulation.✅ Enhanced secretion in response to elevated blood glucose levels.
Glucagon✅ Suppressed secretion, leading to better blood glucose management.✅ Suppressed secretion, contributing to better blood sugar management.
CCK✅ Increase in levels, promoting satiety and reducing food intake.
Leptin✅ Improvement in leptin sensitivity, reducing hunger and promoting energy balance.

The appetite-suppressing drugs Ozempic and Wegovy target one specific metabolic hormone (GLP-1 agonist receptors). The newer weight loss drugs coming to market, such as Mounjaro (Zepbound), include GIP metabolic hormone as well to create better weight loss. Lilly’s experimental ‘triple-G’ (Retatrutide) targets GLP-1, GIP, and glucagon receptors for higher body fat loss.

2. Amount of Weight Loss

Gastric sleeve surgery and RNY gastric bypass procedures have high efficacy due to their restrictive and malabsorptive components that, in turn, lead to positive hormonal/metabolic changes. They relieve the risk of life-threatening weight-related health conditions more than weight-loss injectables. Weight loss surgery causes pounds to drop rapidly and permanently.

Bariatric surgery typically leads to an average of 2 to 3 times more fat loss. In one year, bariatric surgery patients lose an average of 55-65% of excess body weight, while Ozempic users result in an average weight loss of 10-20% of excess body weight (depending on dosage) when paired with a diet and exercise plan.

Expected Weight Loss Bariatric Surgery vs. Ozempic Injection

When it comes to the pace of weight reduction, bariatric surgery demonstrates rapid weight loss, particularly in the initial “honeymoon phase,” which typically spans the first year or two following the procedure. In contrast, Ozempic promotes a gradual, slower decline in fatness, which hinges on the continuous administration of the medication.

3. Safety: Side Effects and Complications

Risk Comparison

Regarding risk, bariatric surgery is slightly higher than Ozempic-type medications. Short-term surgical and anesthesia-related risks of bariatrics include bleeding, leakage, stenoses, and venous thromboembolic events. Ozempic presents long-term rare but significant risks like thyroid C-cell tumors (MTC), kidney disease, diabetic retinopathy, gastroparesis (stomach paralysis), pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, and death.

Bariatric Surgery RisksOzempic Risks
Bleeding and blood clotPancreatitis and gallbladder disease (less common)
Leak (less than 1%)Impact on thyroid and kidney health (less than 1%)
GallstonesEye-related complications
UlcersLoss of Muscle Mass (50%)
Reflux (15% in sleeve patients)Drowsiness and Confusion
StricturesStomach paralysis
Bowel obstructionBowel obstruction & Ileus

Side Effect Comparison

There are more side effects associated with Ozempic than bariatric weight loss surgery. 75% of Ozempic patients suffer side effects. Semaglutide medications are prone to invoke gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, Ozempic burps, teeth falling off, Ozempic face, and suicidal thoughts. In contrast, bariatric surgery may provoke nutrient deficiencies, dumping syndrome, gallstones, and internal hernias in the long term. Ozempic can be stopped at any time; however, stopping may cause a rebound effect and reverse all its weight loss results.

Bariatric Surgery Side EffectsOzempic Side Effects
Dumping syndromeNausea and Vomiting
Low blood sugarDiarrhea and Constipation
MalnutritionStomach fermentation
VomitingStomach (abdominal) pain
UlcersFacial deformity
HerniasSuicidal Thoughts

4. Convenience

Choosing between surgical bariatric procedures and injectable weight loss medications involves several key convenience factors. Surgeries (e.g., sleeve and bypass) require one-time intervention with potential follow-up, along with 1-3 weeks off work and dietary changes. Weight loss surgery encourages substantial dietary modifications, including portion control, eating restraints, food exclusion, and vitamin supplementation.

Injectable medications disrupt weekly routines, with at-home administered injections eliminating the need for medical leave or significant time off work. While no specific diet changes are required, Ozempic weight loss is short-lived if healthy habits aren’t implemented long-term. Regular follow-up visits with a healthcare provider are necessary for monitoring and dose adjustments, and there may be an initial adjustment period to manage potential side effects.

Overall, the convenience of administration differs significantly. Injections come with ongoing maintenance, while surgery requires a single intervention, offering greater flexibility and convenience.

5. Price

The upfront cost for weight loss surgery can vary considerably. In Mexico, it generally falls within the range of $4,000 to $8,000; in the United States, it’s much higher, ranging from $18,000 to $30,000. These prices and fees depend on factors such as the specific procedure, the surgery’s place, and the surgeon’s expertise.

Ozempic has smaller initial costs of $1,000 – however, ongoing expenses tend to rise each month as the dosage required increases. The cost of the $1,000-per-month medication can vary based on factors like insurance coverage, dosage requirements, and geographical location. Ozempic would need to be taken long-term to help prevent weight regain. At over $1,000 monthly, ten years of drug therapy would cost $120,000!

Ozempic is a prescription medication, and your insurance may cover its cost. However, it can be expensive without insurance. Bariatric surgery is usually covered by insurance if you meet specific criteria, but there may still be out-of-pocket expenses.  Weight loss surgery in Mexico is affordable and a viable option for people without sufficient insurance. The cost of Ozempic in Mexico is considerably lower than in the United States.

Ultimately, bariatric surgery has higher initial costs but potential long-term cost savings due to significant weight loss, improved health, and reduced medical expenses. Ozempic’s cost-effectiveness depends on factors such as the extent of weight loss, duration of treatment, and long-term health benefits.

Ozempic vs Bariatric Surgery Cost Comparison Bar Chart

Cost-Related Factors of Bariatric Surgery and Ozempic

  • Insurance coverage
  • Geographical location
  • Doctor’s expertise
  • Pharmacy prescription costs
  • Type of surgery
  • Type of weight loss medication
  • Dosage

6. Candidacy

Medication drugs could be a good option if your BMI is between 30 to 35. These prescription medicines require close medical guidance, and they should not be taken for weight loss alone or for patients whose BMI is below 30, as they cause a hormonal surge and imbalance.

It is worth looking into surgical intervention if you want a more long-lasting, affordable solution and don’t want to spend the remainder of your life being co-dependent on medication.

Obese individuals with a BMI of over 35 need surgical intervention for durable weight loss. Obesity drugs can be combined with weight loss surgery procedures like Endo Sleeve (ESG) to produce more desirable results.

7. Benefits

Losing weight not only helps with medical issues stemming from obesity but comes with improved quality of life, psychosocial benefits, and improved mortality. Here are the benefits of surgical intervention and pharmacotherapy stacked up against each other;

Benefits of Bariatric Surgery vs Ozempic Injections

8. Keeping Weight Off

Artificial GLP-1 in injectables suppresses the appetite and does not get rid of it. That is why once you stop taking the medication, you start feeling hungry again and eating to satisfy the increased hunger. Therefore, you can regain the lost weight and more.

Bariatrics is a definitive answer for obesity, as it reduces the hungry feeling. The patients do not normally go back to their pre-surgery weight. About 15% of patients need revisional surgery to help them reach their goal weight. The Ozempic family of drugs could help bariatric patients regain weight and get back on track.

Bottom Line

Bariatric surgery is still the “gold standard” for treating obesity as it promotes weight loss by resetting your metabolic system. Surgical intervention is a more potent solution for individuals with weight problems and comorbidities. Accelerated weight loss therapies like Ozempic do not rival bariatric surgeries. People only lose weight as long as they are on the drug; once they stop, they regain the lost weight and more.

Access to GLP-1 medications is a challenge for people seeking them. Within two years, over 70% of diabetic patients quit taking the GLP-1 receptor agonist shots.

Surgical and non-surgical procedures and medication-assisted treatment offer good options for people struggling with obesity and its related diseases. Each treatment choice depends on the individual preference and health condition and needs to be under the guidance of a health professional.

Maximal treatment of obesity lies in the combination of laparoscopic and endoscopic bariatric procedures, GLP-1 Medications, nutrition, and lifestyle changes. Currently, over 15% of Americans are taking GLP-1 medications, while 1-2% are opting for bariatric procedures.

If you’re not losing weight with diet, exercise, pharmaceuticals, and behavioral changes, ask us about affordable bariatric surgery in Mexico.

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