Bathroom scale to check for weight loss without surgery

Lose weight without surgery: what you need to know

Written on December 13, 2022 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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It’s almost that time of the year—New Year! Many people make New Year’s resolutions, and one of the most common is losing weight. One strategy to lose weight if you are someone who is obese is surgery. However, surgery can have serious complications, and you may have to pay out of pocket. There are various other ways to lose weight without going under the knife. You can lose weight with general lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise to help with metabolism. Different ways to lose unwanted weight can involve strict calorie intake, medications, and non-surgical procedures.

Calorie restriction and weight loss

You are not alone if you have ever considered losing weight without surgery. Recently, calorie restrictions have become all the rage in the media. You may have wondered if calorie restriction is even practical. Reducing your calorie restriction means eating fewer calories intentionally, without causing health issues such as malnutrition or not getting essential nutrients. Don’t confuse calorie restriction with fasting. Fasting often means avoiding food intake for a specific time of day or week.

Scientists who have studied the effects of caloric restriction have reported that it can positively affect life span and health [1]. These studies have suggested that a caloric restriction may benefit people in managing weight loss without surgery. Caloric restriction may not only help with weight management but also reduce cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk [1].

In a recent caloric restriction clinical trial conducted by Duke University and other researchers, the study demonstrated that participants could sustain weight loss for up to two years [2]. The participants eat 25% fewer calories per day than they regularly would. A positive result was that caloric restriction did not affect a participant’s quality of life.

Prescription medication for weight loss

Prescription medication is another alternative to losing weight without surgery. Some medications may help you feel less hungry, and others reduce fat absorption from foods [3]. These prescription medications are intended to treat overweight or obesity. Your healthcare providers can determine if you may benefit from prescription weight loss medication. Your healthcare provider may recommend prescription medication if you are an adult with a BMI greater than 30 or has weight-related health issues. Below is a short list of FDA-approved medications for obesity [3]:

  1. Orlistat (Xenical®, Alli®)
  2. Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia®)
  3. Naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave®)
  4. Liraglutide (Saxenda®)
  5. Semaglutide (Wegovy™)

Consult with your healthcare provider before starting any prescription medication. Not all medicines are free of side effects, and you should follow your healthcare provider’s instructions to manage medication use. Your healthcare provider may complement prescription weight loss medication with exercise and lifestyle changes to help you improve and maintain a healthy weight.

Minimally invasive non-surgical treatment for weight loss

A non-surgical treatment for weight loss is endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty. This therapy reduces the gastric reservoir in obese patients using a suturing device [4]. Your doctor will insert a suturing device into your throat and place the device in the stomach. The doctor will suture the stomach to make it smaller. Significant weight loss is accomplished by reducing how much you can eat.

Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty can facilitate weight loss by 16-60% after 12 months [4] compared to dieting and lifestyle changes. Over the course of endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty therapy, your team of healthcare providers will monitor your progress as you achieve weight loss goals. Not only does endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty reduce weight loss, but it also reduces obesity-related risks such as high blood pressure and cholesterol and improves lifestyle.

The future with precision medicine for guided weight loss therapy

Geneticists have identified genes that can predispose you to higher obesity risk. Your genes may affect your body’s response to exercise, medication, and weight loss therapy.

Precision medicine is an emerging area of science to help with weight loss by matching your genetics to a weight loss therapy for the best outcome.

There are genetic factors related to obesity, such as mutations in genes associated with early onset obesity or severe organ abnormalities that lead to obesity [5]. Your healthcare provider can prescribe medications that work with your genetics. Your genetics could be a good predictor of weight loss exercise effectiveness and outcomes.

Precision medicine promises personalized prevention, diagnosis, and therapy to give you the best possible health outcomes. Scientists are still in the early stage of understanding how precision medicine will best be utilized to treat obesity. Precision medicine studies are paving the way for personalized treatment of obesity when scientists know more about the genes contributing to obesity risk.

Weight loss through telehealth

If you want to lose weight without surgery, speak with your doctor or healthcare provider. At Everlywell, you can check in on your health and wellness by using telehealth to give you access to providers, including an option for weight loss online. You can also learn more about Everlywell and what is available for you.

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  1. Rynders CA, Thomas EA, Zaman A, Pan Z, Catenacci VA, Melanson EL. Effectiveness of intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding compared to continuous energy restriction for weight loss. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2442. doi: 10.3390/nu11102442 URL
  2. Dorling JL, Das SK, Racette SB, Apolzan JW, Zhang D, Pieper CF, Martin CK; CALERIE Study Group. Changes in body weight, adherence, and appetite during 2 years of calorie restriction: the CALERIE 2 randomized clinical trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2020;74(8):1210-1220. doi: 10.1038/s41430-020-0593-8 URL
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Prescription medications to treat overweight & obesity. Accessed December 7, 2022. URL
  4. Yoon JY, Arau RT; Study Group for Endoscopic Bariatric and Metabolic Therapies of the Korean Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. The efficacy and safety of endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty as an alternative to laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. Clin Endosc. 2021;54(1):17-24. doi: 10.5946/ce.2021.019 URL
  5. Severin R, Sabbahi A, Mahmoud AM, Arena R, Phillips SA. Precision medicine in weight loss and healthy living. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2019;62(1):15-20. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2018.12.012 URL
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