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Medical Weight Loss FAQs

If you’re struggling to lose weight on your own, a supervised medical (non-surgical) weight loss program can help you stay on track. At Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, we design customized plans to fit your personal health goals. You receive guidance, support and expertise from a skilled team. We invite you to find out more about medical weight loss and its benefits.

  • We follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on defining “overweight.” You’re considered overweight if you have a BMI of 25 to 29.9. A healthy BMI for adult men and women is 18.5 to 24.9. You can calculate your BMI here.

  • You may want to consider medical weight loss if you: 

    • Aren’t a candidate for weight loss surgery
    • Aren’t ready for weight loss surgery
    • Haven’t been able to lose weight on your own
  • Many people receive referrals for medical weight loss from their primary care physicians. Check with your insurance plan to find out if a referral is required.

  • The amount of weight you can expect to lose depends on many factors, including your starting weight, overall health and the types of treatments you try. For example, someone focusing only on diet and exercise might lose between 2% and 5% of their total body weight. Someone who tries medical nutrition therapy may lose between 5% and 10% of their total body weight. Someone who uses medication may lose up to 20% of their total body weight. In general, a safe rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week. Our weight loss doctors help you define your goals and select the right treatments.

  • Every insurance plan is different. Some plans cover medical weight loss if you have weight-related chronic health conditions. However, many insurance plans do not cover the cost of weight loss medication, so we encourage you to check your insurance plan coverage. 

  • At your first medical weight loss consultation, you meet with an internal medicine doctor or an endocrinologist specializing in obesity medicine. They do a thorough assessment of your weight, overall health, lifestyle, medical history and goals for treatment. Learn more about what you can expect at your first visit.

  • We offer a range of evidence-based approaches to non-surgical weight loss, including: 

    • Lifestyle management and nutritional counseling
    • Weight loss medications and injections
    • Endoscopic gastric balloon
  • You don’t have to buy meal replacement products for our medical weight loss program. If you’re interested in these products, we make a recommendation based on your specific needs.

  • Weight loss medication is an effective tool when combined with diet and exercise. We offer a variety of FDA-approved medications, including pills and injections, that can help you achieve modest weight loss (5% to 20% of total body weight). 

    However, it’s important to understand that prescription weight loss medication isn’t the same as over-the-counter dietary supplements for weight loss. Supplements have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. So even if they claim to be “safe” or “natural,” they aren’t regulated. We recommend talking to your doctor before trying supplements.

  • If you’re still unable to lose your desired amount of weight with non-surgical treatments, you may be a candidate for weight loss surgery. We invite you to take the next step to find out more about your weight loss options.