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Nonsurgical Weight Loss FAQs

Q: Why should I choose the Summa Health Weight Management Institute?

A: The Summa Health Weight Management Institute understands that obesity is a disease, not just lack of will power. It therefore takes a traditional physician-driven approach to treating each patient, with a focus on individual needs. Additionally, we know from experience that weight gain is complicated and is usually a result of many factors. Therefore, our comprehensive program, comprised of physicians, psychologists, dietitians, clinical exercise specialists and an array of highly trained support staff work hard to insure you have the best possible outcome.

Q: How do I know if I should try nonsurgical or surgical weight loss?

A: There are several factors to consider when trying to choose a weight loss method.

  1. First, determine your BMI. If your BMI is 40 or higher, you meet the national guidelines for weight loss surgery and can consider that option. If your BMI is between 35 and 39.9, and you have at least one other condition caused by the excess weight (such as diabetes or high blood pressure), you will likely also qualify. If your BMI is less than 35, then a nonsurgical weight loss method is the only option. A BMI between 18-25 is considered “normal”, but if you have gained 10 or more pounds over the past year, it is advisable to engage in a weight loss program now so that you can keep your BMI within a healthy range.
  2. You should look at the number of years you have been overweight. If you have gained a significant amount of weight over 1-2 years, it is probably best to start with an appointment with your primary care physician to rule out any underlying medical conditions. If you have struggled with your weight for more than 3 years, or for much of your life, then considering a nonsurgical or surgical approach to weight loss makes sense.
  3. Another variable to consider is the ways in which you have previously tried to lose weight. Have you worked hard to lose weight?  Tried numerous different diets? Lost weight and then regained it plus a few extra pounds?  If so, then you may be ready to consider a surgical approach if you meet the BMI requirements. If you have never tried seriously to lose weight, then it may make more sense to first try a nonsurgical approach.

Q: Why do I need a physician to help with my weight loss?

A: There are many reasons to work with a doctor to lose weight. Obesity, which begins at a BMI of 30, is a chronic illness. It is not just a cosmetic problem. It can be caused by other diseases, and it definitely causes many diseases, including cancer. There is now a specialty of Obesity Medicine that involves physicians specializing in the conditions of overweight, obesity, and morbid obesity. Obesity is complicated, and a properly trained physician is the best person to help you figure out the cause(s) of your own weight condition.

Q: Can’t I just exercise to lose weight?

A: No. Exercise is not a weight loss method. There are many very important reasons to exercise, but the first and most critical step in a successful weight loss approach is the meal plan.

Q: How much weight can I expect to lose?

A: Patients who have fully participated in our program have achieved a weight loss of as much as five to twenty pounds per month. Success is directly related to the degree of your obesity, and to how closely you follow the prescribed program. Your physician will work with you to set realistic and achievable short- and long-term weight loss goals.

Q: How often will I see the physician?

A: You and your your physician will determine how often you need to be seen.

Q: Why is seeing a behavioral health specialist helpful?

A: Changing your behavior when it comes to eating and exercise is the key to success in any weight loss plan. The degree to which you change your behavior is directly related to the amount of weight loss you can expect to achieve. Our behavioral health specialist should help identify any underlying disordered eating behaviors that could be at the root of previous weight gain and failed efforts at weight loss. They will work with you to conquer those behaviors, and help you to develop new, constructive eating behaviors.

Q: Will I be prescribed any medications?

A: We rarely prescribe medication to assist with weight loss at this time. There are several weight loss medications on the market, and we are watching them closely and evaluating their success. In general, these medications and diet replacement products are very expensive, are not covered by insurance, have side effects, and result in minimal weight loss.

Q: Will I need to purchase pre-packaged foods or shakes?

A: We do not use any pre-packaged specialty foods that must be purchased. All patients are provided with a structured eating plan from our physician and our dietitians, as well as suggestions on how to tailor the eating plan to suit their preferences and lifestyle. The best long-term eating plan is based upon learning how to use every day foods to achieve the right quantity and quality of food. Some surgical and nonsurgical patients may be placed on OptiFast for a limited time right before weight loss surgery, to facilitate qualification for a nonsurgical weight loss surgery or as part of a diabetes treatment plan.

Q: How will my weight loss affect my health?

A: In addition to a lower BMI and other health benefits from weight loss, you may experience an improvement or elimination of obesity-related health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, reflux disease (GERD), joint pain, Fatty Liver Disease and lowered cancer/cancer reoccurrence risk.

Q: How much does the program cost?

A: All physician and individual psychologist visits are billed to your insurance.

Most insurance companies cover both if you have any medical or psychological conditions caused by excess weight. Examples of these are high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, back or joint pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety and binge eating.

For patients who do not have medical insurance or whose insurance will not cover physician visits for weight loss, we do offer private pay rates. Information about private pay rates is available by calling the New Patient line at 330.375.6554.


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If your situation is an emergency, call 911.