Bariatric medicine is the treatment of obesity through non-surgical weight loss management. Bariatricians aim to facilitate patient weight loss (or in some cases, simply reduce patient weight gain) and alleviate the symptoms of obesity. Bariatricians, also known as bariatric physicians, are doctors who have completed training in bariatric medicine. Bariatric medicine is the first course of action for obese or overweight patients, as only patients with a BMI greater than 35 to 40 may receive bariatric weight loss surgery. Moreover, bariatric surgery is accompanied by post-surgical health risks and may be inappropriate for some patients.
A patient will first undergo a weight loss evaluation and consultation. Bariatrians measure patients' starting weight and may perform a body composition analysis to determine patients' body fat and muscle percentages. Blood tests and electrocardiograms (heart rhythm test) may also be used to assess overall patient health. A weight management program is then tailored to the patient, customized to the individual's physical abilities and preferences. Bariatric medicine treatments can include some combination of behavioral modification and oral medications, such as:
Bariatricians will monitor and frequently assess patients' progress. If a certain weight-loss method is ineffective, bariatricians may modify it or prescribe alternative treatments. Bariatricians can work alongside nutritionists, registered dietitians, psychologists, and bariatric surgeons in order to provide comprehensive obesity care.