Bariatric Surgery vs. Semaglutide: Which is Right for You?

Obesity is a prevalent health issue affecting millions worldwide. While diet and exercise are the first line of treatment, they may not be sufficient for some individuals. Bariatric surgery and semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy) are two options that can help with weight loss. If you are interested to learn about more options check out the The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) website which has resources on weight loss treatments, including semaglutide.

Bariatric surgery involves making changes to the digestive system to reduce food consumption and absorption. There are various options like the gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and adjustable gastric band. It’s typically recommended for individuals with a BMI of 40 or above, or a BMI of 35 or above with obesity-related health conditions. Semaglutide is a medication that mimics the effects of the hormone GLP-1 to regulate appetite and blood sugar levels. It’s administered as a weekly injection and is approved for individuals with a BMI of 30 or above.

One difference between the two options is that bariatric surgery is a more invasive procedure that physically alters the digestive system, while semaglutide works by targeting hormones and is an injectable medicaiton. Bariatric surgery has a longer recovery time and higher risk of complications, while semaglutide may cause side effects such as nausea and diarrhea. Check out the The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) website for information on bariatric surgery, including risks and benefits.

Bariatric surgery can result in significant weight loss of ~60-80% of excess body weight, while semaglutide typically results in an average total body weight loss of ~15%. Ultimately, the choice between the two options will depend on the individual’s health status, preferences, and goals. Consultation with a healthcare provider is recommended to determine which is the best choice for you.

In summary, bariatric surgery and semaglutide are two options for weight loss. Bariatric surgery physically changes the digestive system, while semaglutide targets hormones that regulate appetite and blood sugar levels. The choice between the two options depends on individual factors.

Highlights – Pros and Cons Bariatric surgery vs. semaglutide

Bariatric Surgery


Associated with significant weight loss

Durable long term weight loss

Does not require weekly injections

May resolve numerous obesity related medical conditions


Higher risk associated with surgery and anesthesia like bleeding, infection and blood clots.

Longer recovery time from surgery

Long term complications such as bowel obstrution and hernias



Once weekly injections

No associated recovery time

Less potential complications

Modest weight loss without need for surgery

Lower up front cost


May cause side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting

Requires ongoing use to maintain weight loss results

May not be effective for individuals with severe obesity or certain health conditions


Semaglutide vs. Gastric Sleeve Surgery

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of people who are struggling with obesity. As a result, weight loss solutions have become a popular topic. Two of the most popular methods for weight loss are semaglutide and gastric sleeve surgery. In this blog post, we will compare and contrast these two methods, and explore which one might be right for you.

What is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide (Ozempic) is a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes, but it has also been found to be an effective weight loss tool. It is an injectable medication that works by mimicking a hormone in the body called GLP-1. This hormone helps to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce appetite. In clinical trials, people who took semaglutide (Wegovy) lost an average of 15-20% of their body weight. For more information on semaglutide for weight loss check out the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website The FDA is a government agency responsible for regulating drugs and medical devices in the United States. Their website offers detailed information on the approval of Wegovy (semaglutide) for weight management, including its safety and effectiveness, clinical trial data, and potential side effects.

What is Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Gastric sleeve surgery, also known as sleeve gastrectomy, is a surgical weight loss procedure that involves removing a portion of the stomach. This procedure reduces the amount of food that a person can eat, resulting in weight loss. It is usually recommended for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or for those with a BMI of 35 or higher with other health problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure. For more information on gastric sleeve surgery check out the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery website

Semaglutide vs. Gastric Sleeve Surgery: Which is Better?

Both semaglutide and gastric sleeve surgery are effective weight loss tools, but they have different pros and cons.



  • Non-surgical
  • Convenient (injectable medication)
  • Can be used for people with lower BMIs (27 or higher)
  • Can help regulate blood sugar levels


  • May cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Long-term effects on weight loss are still being studied
  • May not be covered by insurance
  • Requires healthy diet and exercise regimen 

Gastric Sleeve Surgery:


  • Dramatic and long-lasting weight loss (60-70% excess weight loss in the first year)
  • May improve or resolve other health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure
  • May be covered by insurance


  • Requires surgery and anesthesia
  • Potential risks and complications such as bleeding, infection, and hernias
  • Requires a significant lifestyle change and commitment to a healthy diet and exercise regimen

Which One is Right for You?

The decision to choose between semaglutide and gastric sleeve surgery depends on your personal health goals, preferences, and medical history. If you have a lower BMI or prefer a non-surgical option, semaglutide may be a good choice for you. If you have a higher BMI and want a more drastic and long-lasting solution, gastric sleeve surgery may be the way to go.

In conclusion, both semaglutide and gastric sleeve surgery can be effective tools for weight loss. However, they have different pros and cons, and the decision of which one to choose depends on individual circumstances. It is always important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best weight loss option for you.

“There is no simple answer but the main question should be what is the overall weight loss goal”



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Dr. Lalezari is a double board certified bariatric surgeon and obesity medicine specialist board certified by the American Board of Surgery as well as the American Board of Obesity Medicine. 

1245 Wilshire Blvd. Ste 907, Los Angeles, CA 90017


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