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Medical Weight Loss: Why It’s Effective

It’s time to kick off a healthy new year!  Losing weight is one of the best ways to improve your overall health, reduce your risk factors for chronic diseases, and improve your confidence.

If you’re tired of trying the latest fad diet each new year, it might be a great time to learn about how effective medical weight management can be for long-term success. Here’s a Q&A with two of our expert physicians who specialize in this unique approach to weight loss.

Dr. Tiffany-Lowe-Payne and Dr. Kajal Zalavadia are both board-certified in bariatric medicine – they lead WakeMed’s Medical Weight Loss program and enjoy helping patients lose weight and achieve optimal overall health.  

What is Medical Weight Loss (MWL)?

Dr. Tiffany-Lowe-Payne

Medical Weight Loss is the process of working with a specialty-trained physician (in bariatric medicine) who can help you achieve your weight, health and lifestyle goals. Our team provides the guidance and support you need to lose weight (and keep it off) the right way – by learning what to eat, how to change your lifestyle and what works best for your specific body and health profile.

We can help identify what barriers may have prevented you from being successful in the past and help you overcome them – whether those barriers are metabolic, physical or psychological.

Why is Medical Weight Loss more effective than a traditional diet?

Dr. Kajal Zalavadia

When it comes to weight loss, I find that many people want a concrete, defined plan that will ensure they lose the weight. Unfortunately, it’s just not that easy. Our bodies are all different and 100 people can use the same diet plan and have 100 different outcomes.

Working with a trained bariatric physician can help you understand your own physiology (which is how your body works) and create a plan that works with your body – which is what’s needed to achieve the healthy, long-term weight loss most patients are looking for.

How much weight can a MWL patient expect to lose?

Dr. Tiffany Lowe-Payne

Studies show that even a 5-10% weight loss can significantly improve someone’s metabolic profile and can start reversing chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.  While every patient is different and their goals will vary, I typically try to help my patients start by losing 10% of their body weight in approximately the first 12 weeks. From there, many will lose more and results will vary based on the patient’s body type and level of commitment.

Who can benefit from a medical weight loss program?

Dr. Kajal Zalavadia

Virtually anyone, but especially patients who are committed to success and long-term health, and are therefore ready and willing to make lifestyle changes, show up for appointments and be 100% honest with our team.  It’s also great for patients with uncontrolled weight gain, weight cycling (losing and gaining weight), or those with A1c issues or uncontrolled diabetes.

Medical weight management can be another great option along with bariatric surgery – or can work well in helping patients prepare for surgery or maintain weight loss achieved by bariatric surgery or help bariatric surgery patients who have regained weight get back on track.

Q: How does it work? What can a patient expect?

Dr. Kajal Zalavadia & Dr. Tiffany-Lowe-Payne

WakeMed Bariatric Surgery & Medical Weight Loss has several approaches to MWM – and we leave it up to each patient as to which option is best for you.

  • If you prefer the support of a group, we offer sessions with 5-7 patients – they typically last 90 minutes and include weigh-in, nursing education session and time with the physician to discuss your progress or any questions or concerns.
  • If you want to work with a physician one-on-one, we can meet once a week (or less frequently if needed) for weigh-in and to discuss your progress, any questions or concerns, or to make modifications to your plan.

With either approach, we recommend developing an exercise plan and working with a registered dietitian on your food/meal planning.  Both options are covered by most insurance plans (as a primary care visit) for patients with a BMI of over 30 (or a BMI of 27 with other certain health conditions).

Q: How would your patients describe you?

Dr. Kajal Zalavadia:

My patients say they appreciate my honestly and the fact that I’m a straight shooter. They also appreciate the time I take to educate and explain what we’re doing – this encourages patients to be part of the decision-making process and to take control of their weight loss journey.

By the time the patients have gone through the program completely, they will be in a position to know how to manage their lifestyle and weight on their own, and our patients love that independence. That’s all because I help them get to know their own physiology – this understanding and empowerment is critical for success in long-term weight loss.

Dr. Tiffany Lowe-Payne:

My patients describe me as thorough and passionate – and as someone who cares not just about your weight, but about your overall health and happiness. They appreciate that I help them consider all aspects of their life and how they may affect weight – from stress to diet to other medical conditions.

Many describe me as a physician and a coach – I seek to educate, encourage, inspire and empower my patients to continue on their successful journey to weight loss.

Learn More About Medical Weight Loss

WakeMed Bariatric Surgery & Medical Weight Loss has offices in Raleigh, Cary and Fuquay-Varina – we’d love to help you get started on your journey to better health.  Learn more, and schedule a Medical Weight Loss consultation here.


About Coleen Hanson Smith

Coleen Hanson Smith is a freelance healthcare writer with 20 years of editorial, PR and marketing experience. She’s passionate about doing work that matters. As such, Coleen’s specialty areas are aligned with her personal passions which include: healthcare/hospital/physician practice/health & wellness; technology/B2B; parenting; and philanthropy/non-profit. 

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