Tirzepatide vs Bariatric Surgery

Obesity is one of the fastest-growing concerns today, with 1 billion obese people worldwide.[1]WHO
World Obesity Day
“More than 1 billion people worldwide are obese..”
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Hence, many people choose weight loss drugs and surgeries to eliminate excess body weight.

There are new weight loss drugs on the market every day, the latest being tirzepatide.

This has led to debates on topics like tirzepatide vs bariatric surgery.

So, let’s read further to learn more about them.

Women injecting a drug under their skin

Women injecting a drug under their skin 

What is Tirzepatide Drug?

Tirzepatide is a once-a-week subcutaneous injectable that suppresses hunger and results in weight loss.[2]GoodRx Health
Can Tirzepatide Help You Lose Weight?
“Tirzepatide is the first medication in its class and comes as a once-weekly injection. It works by impacting your body’s insulin levels, blood sugar production, and hunger hormones.”
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The FDA recently approved this drug for Type 2 Diabetes in May 2022.[3]NCBI
Tirzepatide, a New Era of Dual-Targeted Treatment
“On 14 May 2022, Eli Lilly unlocked one more achievement by receiving US FDA approval for the highly anticipated anti-diabetic drug Mounjaro® (tirzepatide).”
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However, in addition to anti-diabetic properties, this drug also has weight loss effects.[4]StatPearls
Tirzepatide
“Tirzepatide is a novel medication approved for treating type 2 diabetes mellitus with the additional benefit of weight loss.”
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It was recently seen during a clinical trial that many people taking tirzepatide for obesity lost ~20% of their weight.

However, the manufacturer Eli Lilly currently has to go through three more trials before it becomes available for weight loss.

Source: BuzzFeed News[5]BuzzFeed News
These Weight Loss Drugs Seem Promising.
“A clinical trial published last month (called SURMOUNT-1) found many people taking tirzepatide for obesity lost a jaw-dropping 20% of their weight or even more. Before tirzepatide can be made available for weight loss, the manufacturer Lilly currently has to go through three more trials.”
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The FDA has given tirzepatide Fast Track designation for reviewing it for treating excess weight. Hence, they will review & potentially approve it for weight loss sooner than any typical medication approval.[6]GoodRx Health
Can Tirzepatide Help You Lose Weight?
“The FDA has granted tirzepatide its Fast Track designation to be reviewed for the treatment of obesity and overweight. This means they will review and potentially approve it for weight loss sooner than is typical for medication approval.”
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Now, let’s have a look at its mechanism of action. 

Tirzepatide: Mechanism of action

GLP-1 and GIP are both gut hormones that are released after eating.

Tirzepatide mimics these hormones by signaling the pancreas to release insulin after eating.

This further results in lowering your blood sugar.

In addition to lowering blood sugar, tirzepatide also:

  • Send signals to the brain that you’re full – so you eat less.
  • Slows the movement of food through your stomach – so you feel full longer.

Source: StatPearls[7]StatPearls
Tirzepatide
“Mechanism of Action Tirzepatide is a synthetic peptide; and a dual gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist…”
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Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that allows cells to absorb glucose from the blood.[8]Medical News
What is insulin?
“Insulin is a chemical messenger that allows cells to absorb glucose, a sugar, from the blood. The pancreas is an organ behind the stomach that is the main source of insulin in the body.”
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Tirzepatide: Mechanism of Action

Tirzepatide: Mechanism of Action

Is Tirpezatide an Alternative To Bariatric Surgery?

To answer this question, let’s look at the cost, pros & cons, and long-term effects of the two: 

💰 Tirzepatide Cost vs Bariatric Surgery Cost

Since bariatric procedures and drugs are not usually covered by insurance, they can cost you a fortune!

For instance, tirzepatide cost is estimated at $17,527 for its course of 72 weeks.[9]PubMed
Tirzepatide versus semaglutide for weight loss in patients
“The total cost of 72 weeks of tirzepatide was estimated at $17 527.”
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While bariatric surgery ranges from $15,000 – $30,000, depending on the procedure and the patient’s condition.

Cost of Bariatric Surgeries in the US
Procedure Cost
Lap Banding $15,000
Gastric Sleeve $20,000
Gastric Bypass $25,000
Duodenal Switch $30,000
*These are estimated prices

However, with MTC, you can get affordable WLS abroad, in countries like Mexico, India, and Turkey, and save upto 50-80%.

Contact us and begin your transformation with a FREE quote today! 

Tirzepatide vs Bariatric Surgery: Pros & Cons

As with any other drug or major procedure, tirzepatide and WLS too have their own pros and cons.

Here’s a list of pros and cons of tirzepatide drug:

✔️ Pros[10]PubMed
Tirzepatide, a New Era of Dual-Targeted Treatment for Diabetes and Obesity
“Reducing body weight by more than 20% and improving lipid metabolism..”
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  • No surgery needed
  • Significant weight loss
  • Improves synthesis & degradation of fats

❌ Cons

  • To be taken lifelong
  • Serious allergic reactions
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Increased risk of thyroid tumors
  • Acute pancreatitis & kidney injury
  • Interferes with pregnancy & contraception

Source: NCBI[11]NCBI
Tirzepatide
“Possibly changing the method of contraception to a non-oral route or utilizing barrier contraception for at least four weeks. Infrequent cases of acute kidney injury have been reported… Therefore, there may be risks to the fetus from exposure to tirzepatide during pregnancy.”
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, Yale[12]Yale Medicine
Can New Weight-Loss Drugs Really Treat Obesity?
“The research says that when you stop the medication, you gain the weight back, so likely to be on medication for the rest of my life.”
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Here are the pros and cons of weight loss surgery:

Bariatric Surgery: Pros & Cons
Pros Cons
Excellent weight loss Rare cases of wound infections/bleeding
Lowers risk of death Short-term breathing issues
Improves quality of life Abdominal hernias (very rare)
Minimally invasive surgery Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Long-term in nature Rare chances of blood clots or ulcers
Reduction in medical comorbidities* Second surgery may be needed in rare cases
*diabetes, HTN, hyperlipidemia, sleep apnea, etc.

Source: STFM[13]STFM Journals
Bariatric Surgery: Safe, Effective, and Underutilized
“result in superior and durable weight loss, a reduction in medical comorbidities, as well as a mortality benefit.”
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, ScienceDirect[14]ScienceDirect
Minimally invasive management of obesity
“This can significantly decrease associated morbidity as most complications can easily be managed with minimally invasive approaches.Bariatric surgery offers a highly effective long-term solution for these patients, prevents the progression of obesity related diseases…”
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, WebMD[15]WebMD
Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery
“Wound infections Excessive bleeding Breathing problems Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea…”
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Tirzepatide vs Weight Loss Surgery: Longevity & Success

If we talk about the tirzepatide drug, it is known to help shed ~20% of body weight.

However, it was seen during some research that if you stop taking tirzepatide, you might gain the weight back.

Hence, you would need to be on lifelong medications.

Whereas, bariatric surgery provides long-term weight loss & helps to achieve your weight loss goals effectively.[16]UCSF.EDU
Permanent Weight Reduction & Improved Health
“Over the past several years, studies have demonstrated that the surgery is by far the most effective and permanent weight reduction treatment.”
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💊 Pills vs Bariatric Surgery

Many people are now choosing medications & pills for weight loss over surgery.

These drugs may help maximize the efficacy of your weight loss efforts, but they can’t substitute for healthy habits.

Moreover, those opting for WLS drugs are likely to regain weight if they stop taking them.

Hence, one would need to follow a healthy lifestyle and continue taking the medications.

Watch Our Surgeon’s Expert Opinion on Diet Pills vs Weight Loss Surgery 

🥗 Diet vs Bariatric Surgery

Many people prefer to lose weight by adopting weight-loss diets over bariatric surgery.

When combined with other lifestyle changes like exercising, diet can result in substantial weight loss.

However, when compared with WLS, the diet-induced weight loss is not permanent.

Increased intake, weight regain, and reversion of the metabolic improvements may occur after some time.[17]NCBI
Comparison of surgical versus diet‐induced weight loss
“In comparison, matched diet‐induced weight loss resulted in changes in these indices that could promote increased energy intake and therefore weight regain and reversion of metabolic improvements seen with initial weight loss. ”
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FAQs


What happens when you stop taking tirzepatide?

According to the research, if you stop taking tirzepatide, you might gain the weight back.

Hence, you would need to be on lifelong medications.

How long does it take to lose weight on tirzepatide?

Tirzepatide is a subcutaneous injectable that suppresses hunger and results in weight loss.

To lose weight, tirzepatide is to be injected once a week, continuing for 72 weeks.[18]GoodRX Health
Can Tirzepatide Help You Lose Weight?
“Those treated with tirzepatide had an average weight loss of 15% to 20% of their starting body weight over 72 weeks (about 16 and a half months).”
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What is the minimum weight for weight loss surgery?

With at least one obesity-related complication, patients with BMI between 30 & 35 kg/m² or higher can go for weight loss surgery.[19]PubMed
Sleeve Gastrectomy
“Patients with BMI between 30 and 35 kg/m2 with at least one obesity-related comorbidity…”
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How painful is bariatric surgery?

The bariatric surgery procedure is not painful as you are administered with anesthesia.

However, while recovering, you may experience some pain.

But you need not worry as your surgeon will write you some pain medications and other prescriptions for that.

Source: Verywell Health[20]Verwell Health
Bariatric Surgery
“General anesthesia is required for pain control during a bariatric operation. Your anesthesia will begin as the anesthetic medication is injected into your IV. This medication will prevent pain…”
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Final Word

The weight-loss drugs are a non-surgical and zero-invasive option for weight loss.

In addition to that, you can stop taking these medications at any time.

Whereas most weight loss surgeries are irreversible with a fixed recovery time.

While diet, WLS pills, or exercise alone are harder to maintain over time.

But, these lifestyle changes combined with bariatric surgery seem to have a great overall result.

References

1. WHO- World Obesity Day

2. GoodRx Health- Can Tirzepatide Help You Lose Weight?

3. NCBI- Tirzepatide

4. StatPearls- Tirzepatide

5. BuzzFeed News- These Weight Loss Drugs Seem Promising

6. Medical News- What is insulin?

7. PubMed- Tirzepatide versus semaglutide for weight loss

8. Yale Medicine- Can New Weight-Loss Drugs Really Treat Obesity?

9. STFM Journals- Bariatric Surgery

10. ScienceDirect- Minimally invasive management of obesity

11. WebMD- Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery

12. UCSF.EDU- Permanent Weight Reduction & Improved Health

13. NCBI- Comparison of surgical versus diet‐induced weight loss

14. PubMed- Sleeve Gastrectomy

15. Verywell Health- Bariatric Surgery