GLP-1 Medication Programs to Combat Regain After Weight Loss Surgery

Caption: Could a GLP-1 program help reverse your regain?

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There may not be a magic pill for weight-loss, but we are getting pretty close to a magic shot. GLP-1s and more recently, a GLP-1 and GIP combination drug. These drugs, originally developed for the management of type 2 diabetes have been shown to be incredibly effective at helping people lose weight, even rivaling surgery.


What are GLP-1s and GIPs?

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) are hormones that help on two fronts: maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and communicating fullness signals between the gut and brain. 


Which drugs are we talking about? Name names Nikki!

A GLP-1 medication, semaglutide, has been FDA approved under the brand name Wegovy for weight loss in people with obesity.  This drug is chemically the same as Ozempic (which is FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes).  Many physicians prescribe Ozempic “off-label” to get around insurances that don’t cover treatment for obesity.

There are other drugs in the GLP-1 class of drugs (like Trulicity and Victoza), as well as the newer drug Mounjaro (tirzepatide), the first of the new GLP-1/GIP drugs.  If you choose medication to help you manage your weight, your doctor will help you decide which is right for you.


What’s the best program to get GLP-1 medications?

I can speak to this from personal experience.  I wanted to see if medication-assisted weight loss was right for me after regaining 60 of the 150 pounds that I lost.  I tried two direct-to-consumer telemedicine programs and consulting with my primary care physician.  What’s best for you will depend on your circumstances, your finances, your insurance coverage, you relationship with your doctor, and what motivates you.

I’ll get into the details in another post, but my favorite here is Calibrate.  Here’s why:

  • Easy sign-up and onboarding. Prior to the appointment with the doctor, Calibrate sends an order for bloodwork to the local lab of your choice. They have a preferred network, but I was able to send it to the lab I preferred.  Once the labs are ordered, you schedule a consultation with a physician licensed to practice in your state.  The online scheduling system was easy and I was able to choose the doctor I wanted to see. There were two to choose from on the days I wanted to schedule the appointment.
  • A real, thorough, consultation with a real physician. About a week after I had the lab work completed, I met with the doctor. Although the meeting was scheduled for 45-minutes, we went over by about five minutes.  I had every question answered, and every doubt addressed.  We discussed all of tests performed in the metabolic assessment lab work and what it meant for my health. We discussed at length my medical history, weight history, and allllll of the things I had tried for weight-loss.  Once we decided that I would be a good fit for medication, we talked about a plan.  We talked about the medication and its effectiveness, the possible side-effects, and complications.
  • Seamless insurance approval. According to Calibrate, they can get most people approved for GLP-1 medication if they have commercial insurance (sometimes even when obesity medications are excluded).  They will work directly with the insurance company to get approval while you start your program with another drug or with just coaching.  If they can’t get coverage, they will refund the cost of the program (less the cost of the doctor visit).
  • Payment Plan. Yay for making it affordable!   With the medicines coming in at around $25/month and $135 per month for the program, the program becomes a lot more affordable for “regular” people.  While some other programs offer pay by the month that you can cancel anytime, they don’t require a full year commitment.  I need that.  If I know that I’m going to have to pay for it, I am more likely to follow through.
  • A Comprehensive Program and 1:1 Coaching!! THIS IS WHERE CALIBRATE TAKES HOME THE TROPHY!  True, you may be able to talk to your doctor and get a prescription for a GLP-1 medication, but the coaching and program structure are the real value of the program.  Calibrate has a full year-long curriculum (a holistic program that addresses not only food, but sleep, exercise, and emotional health as well) and a staff of coaches that will meet with you 1:1 twice per month to help keep you moving in the right direction.   Quite often, we know what to do, but we just need the accountability, structure, and cheerleading that comes along with coaching.


Can I take these drugs after I’ve already had weight-loss surgery?

Yes.  And as a matter of fact, some physicians are beginning to incorporate GLP-1 medications into their practice in lieu of or in addition to bariatric surgery.


So, what’s the cost?

The cost of the Calibrate program is $1620.  It’s payable over 12 months with Affirm ($135/month).  The cost of the prescription will vary depending on which drug is prescribed.  Ozempic is about $25 (using a coupon from the manufacturer of Ozempic) if you can get your insurance to cover it.


Does my insurance cover it?

Maybe.  It’s worth a shot to get see.  Calibrate will check for you and refund the cost of the program (less the doctor visit) if your insurance doesn't approve it. You can also go to the NovoCare (manufacturer of Ozempic) website to see if Ozempic is covered.


Do I have other options if my insurance doesn’t cover the medications?

Yes.  Here are some things you may try:

  • Getting semaglutide from a compounding pharmacy. The costs are in the $200-$300 range per month versus the $1500-$1700 range for Ozempic and the vitamin that it is compounded with may reduce the nausea side-effect.
  • Getting it from Canada. At press time Ozempic was less than $300 per pen (about a month’s supply). 
  • Finding a local medication help program. These operate outside of government programs like Medicaid and have more lenient qualifications.



Join Calibrate:

Generic Semaglutide from Compounding Pharmacy:

GLP-1 Medication Use with Bariatric Surgery:

Compoundng Pharmacy:

Canadian Online Pharmacy:

Novocare Cost Navigator:

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