Why see a medical weight loss specialist, and why use our program?

A medical weight loss specialist, (also known as a bariatrician), is a physician with advanced training and certification in the field of medicine that addresses the treatment of obesity and conditions related to obesity (such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and many others). While some individuals are able to lose weight on their own, or with national commercial weight loss programs, the majority are unable to maintain their reduced weight over time.  Many of our patients have tried repeatedly to lose weight, but have not achieved their goals or had sustained success.

The science of obesity is rapidly evolving. We take a scientific approach to weight loss, and use treatment strategies that have been proven to work. Although any doctor can offer a diet program, a bariatric physician is able to assess each patient’s weight loss challenges using a holistic view. There is much more to the weight loss equation than “you just need to eat less and exercise more”. Genetic, environmental, hormonal, psychological, and socioeconomic factors all play a very important role. A medical bariatrician is up to date on the latest advances in this field and understands its intricacies. A bariatric physician, such as Dr. Elchoufi, is able to assess your unique health history, your goals, and your challenges, to tailor a comprehensive plan that will provide you with the best chance of reaching your target as quickly and safely as possible, and maintaining your success long term. Our program is based on protocols developed by nationally and internationally recognized leaders in medical bariatrics. This approach has been used to treat thousands of patients in medical bariatric clinics across the country. On average, 97% of patients lost weight at the first month visit. 78% of patients who entered the maintenance program maintained some or all weight loss. 80% of patients who made a minimum of three visits lost enough weight to reduce their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by 50%, and many more have seen improvements in their blood pressure, cholesterol, and quality of life.

At MWWSA, our physician will regularly monitor your progress. If the expected weight loss is not proceeding as expected, she will work with you to uncover any barriers that might be hindering your weight loss. We will order additional tests if necessary, re-check your body composition, adjust medications as needed, and help get you back on track. We can communicate with your primary care physician and use a team approach to continue supporting you in your efforts. Some individuals find that with even modest weight loss, their doctor may be able to reduce the dosage of their medications, or even discontinue some of them altogether.

How much weight can I realistically expect to lose, and how quickly?

It is not possible to answer this question accurately for every individual. However, based on data from similar programs in other areas of the country, individuals on average have lost over 10 pounds in the first month. But, depending on your unique biochemistry, the type of program that you and the physician decide on, you may experience weight loss of a lesser or greater degree. Some individuals have lost substantially more. The rate of weight loss will slow down over time, as it does with any weight loss program. In general, individuals with more excess weight will experience a larger amount of weight loss initially. Conversely, individuals who are close to their ideal weight will see a smaller degree of weight loss.

How does your program work?

There is no one-size-fits-all method to our weight loss program. Our physician will create a customized program for each patient based on his/her goals, previous individual medical history, family medical history, past experiences with weight loss attempts, dietary and activity preferences, and results of any testing we perform such as body composition, blood tests, EKG, and others. See the Programs tab for additional details. Also, remember that Dr. Elchoufi can further tailor each of these programs to your specific needs and preferences.

Is your program safe to use if I have other medical problems?

Your safety is our priority. We work in concert with your primary care physician and other specialists as needed, if there are any concerns regarding your other medical problems in relation to a weight loss program. In fact, if you have other medical issues, it is even more important that you have your treatment supervised by a physician trained in the field of obesity and its related medical illnesses, as this is one of the safest ways to lose excess weight safely and effectively.

How often do I need to be seen in your clinic?

After your initial visit with Dr. Elchoufi, you will continue to see her monthly during your period of active weight loss. This is to ensure that your weight loss continues to proceed as effectively and safely as possible. The physician may need to make adjustments to your nutrition program, your activities, your medications, and other factors that affect your progress. You will also see one of our certified medical assistants for complimentary weekly weight checks. We have found that patients, who remain engaged and use the weekly weigh-in as a tool to encourage personal accountability, tend to see better results.

Are there medications available to help with weight loss?

Studies have shown that certain weight loss medications, when combined with proper nutrition and exercise, can produce a greater amount of weight loss. Therefore, we offer FDA-approved weight loss medications to assist patients for whom these medications are deemed to be safe and effective. Medications (including Belviq, Contrave, Phentermine, Qsymia, and Saxenda) are only used as an adjunct to lifestyle modifications, which are the cornerstone of lasting weight loss. If you are interested in medications to assist with weight loss, please discuss with Dr. Elchoufi during your visit with her.

Do I have to buy foods or other products from your office?

There is no requirement to buy any products from our office. We offer pharmaceutical-grade supplements, high-quality, great-tasting meal replacements, and other items in our office. However, these are in no way a requirement; they are available for our patients’ convenience.

Do you treat children?

On a case-by-case basis, we will consider treatment of adolescents as young as 16 years of age, with clearance from their pediatrician or family practitioner, and accompaniment by a parent or legal guardian for the duration of the program. Research has shown that successful treatment of overweight and obese children/adolescents is highly affected by family support and education. Adopting healthier lifestyle habits for all members of the household is key.

Do I need to have a primary care physician in order to participate in your program, or can you be my primary care physician?

At MWWSA, we strongly believe in the importance of preventative medicine. Although Dr. Elchoufi is trained and qualified to perform complete primary care, she specializes in Bariatrics (weight loss medicine). You will still need your primary doctor for routine screenings, annual exams, and other acute or chronic disease treatment for any issues other than weight management. Also, your primary care physician is usually part of a group of physicians that provides after-hour emergency call service. Although we return phone calls within 24 hours whenever possible, we are not set up for emergency after-hour services. For these reasons, it is important that you have your own primary care physician established.

Do you accept Insurance?

We do not contract with any insurance companies, or process insurance filing in our office. However, we are happy to provide you with a listing of your weight-related diagnoses and corresponding diagnostic code(s), which you may submit directly to your insurance company for potential reimbursement.  Insurance policies vary greatly in terms of what they will cover for weight management services. Check with your insurance provider for more information regarding whether your plan offers coverage for medical weight loss services to treat obesity.

What is the cost of your program?

We would be happy to discuss pricing with you. However, since Dr. Elchoufi tailors each patient’s program to his or her specific needs, goals, medical history, and other factors, we will just need to speak with you for a few minutes, so that we can get a better idea of what you’re looking for, and try to give you as accurate an estimate as we can. Please feel free to give us a call at 706-829-9906. Then you can decide whether our program is a good fit for you. We strive to provide excellent value for the services we offer, and over a 3-6 month period, we are actually one of the most cost-effective non-surgical bariatric practices in the area. Dr. Elchoufi personally sets up your initial program and continues to meet with you monthly, to ensure you’re getting the best results possible. This is a tremendous value that most programs simply do not offer. You truly benefit from Dr. Elchoufi’s medical expertise in this field.

 

Are my medical weight loss costs tax-deductible?

IRS Revenue ruling IR 2002-19 allows individuals diagnosed as being obese by a physician, to deduct certain costs of the program services, such as medical services and healthy nutrition education classes. It is important to note that this ruling does not cover the cost of food, which would normally have to be purchased by anyone, regardless of his or her weight. As with all tax related matters please consult with your tax accountant to determine if your expenses are eligible.

What form of payment do you accept?

We accept Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards.

How do I get started?

Call us at 706.829.9906 to schedule a visit with one of our friendly and knowledgeable bariatric assistants, or fill out an inquiry form under the “Contact” tab.