Below you will find answers to common questions we receive here at Physician’s Weight Control & Wellness. If you have a question that is not covered in the below FAQ, please call us to set an appointment.
What is Obesity?
Obesity is the fastest-growing epidemic disease in the United States. A person is considered obese if they have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. The latest statistics reveal that over 75% of people in the United States today are overweight with a BMI of 27 or greater, meaning that the number of people at risk for obesity is at an all-time high.
Obesity shortens a person’s lifespan and can negatively impact their quality of life. Addressing obesity is critical to reducing one’s chance of developing associated life-threatening medical conditions.
What is a Bariatrician
A bariatrician is a licensed physician – Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) – who has received special training in the medical treatment of overweight and obese patients through the Obesity Medical Association (OMA). Bariatricians address the obese patient with a comprehensive program of diet and nutrition, exercise, lifestyle changes and, when indicated, the prescription of appetite suppressants and other appropriate medications.
Why should I see a bariatrician?
While any licensed physician can offer a medical weight loss program, bariatricians are uniquely equipped to treat overweight and obese patients and their associated conditions. Through the Obesity Medical Association’s extensive continuing medical education programs, the bariatricians at our offices have been trained to use their highly specialized knowledge, tools and techniques to design specialized medical weight loss programs tailored to the needs of individual patients. If needed, they can modify the programs as the treatment progresses.
Because of this qualification, weight loss with one of our physicians includes a complete program focusing not only on weight loss but also on weight maintenance. Our specialists are experienced in helping overweight patients deal with their personal highs and lows during their weight loss journey, including the roadblocks that may appear along the way.
Why have I been unsuccessful losing weight, even though I’ve tried so hard in the past?
Obesity is a difficult disease. Even with maximum effort, having setbacks in your weight loss program is as easy as attending one holiday party or going on a vacation with family. Though these are positive activities, they can put stress on your disease and invite old habits to return. Bad stressors like injuries, family losses, and money problems can be even more punishing when it comes to sticking with your weight loss program.
Biochemical imbalances can also make it extremely difficult for a person to lose weight. For example, raised insulin levels can block weight loss. In patients with Insulin resistance, even a slight increase in carbohydrate intake can raise insulin levels enough to slow weight loss. Other biochemical culprits can include thyroid hormone levels, which can affect how quickly or slowly a patient loses weight. Even certain medications can cause weight gain as a side effect. Our physicians will perform blood tests to determine if any of these are contributing to the lack of weight loss.
Hitting a “plateau” in weight loss can also be incredibly frustrating to someone trying to control their weight. For many people, reaching their body’s “comfort zone” can often mean the end of their weight journey, whether they want it to or not. When we lose enough weight, we may look and feel better and, eventually, we lose our focus on excellent nutrition and portion control. This causes us to “plateau” and not lose weight as quickly, if at all. While some tests can help explain this, many times hitting a plateau occurs without explanation, and it is during these times that a supportive team such as ours can encourage you.
Unfortunately, the treatment of obesity doesn’t only involve taking pills – rather, it involves a high degree of personal responsibility. While weight loss requires tough mental fortitude, our staff will never, ever take a stern or judgmental approach to helping with your weight loss. We will guide you through the good times and bad.
What makes your program(s) different from commercial programs?
At Physician’s Weight Control & Wellness, our programs are unique in that they are created and supervised entirely by our bariatric-certified physicians. A physician-supervised medical weight loss program is be the safest and most effective way to lose weight and maintain weight loss. Obesity and being overweight are frequently accompanied by other medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Our bariatric physicians are trained to detect and treat these conditions, which might go undetected and untreated in a non-medical weight loss program. In many cases, the drugs needed to treat these associated conditions will no longer be needed with successful weight loss.
Do I qualify for your program(s)?
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has clear guidelines as to who should try to lose weight and how they should do it. Their guidelines state that a person should see a physician to lose weight if any of the following apply:
#1 You are trying to lose more than 15-20 pounds -and/or-
#2 You have any health conditions -and/or-
#3 You are taking any medications -and/or-
#4 You are planning to take medication to lose weight
Ultimately, what is the cost to complete your program?
While developing our program and determining its fees, our chief physician, Dr. Christopher Puempel, has made it his goal to keep the Physician’s Weight Control & Wellness Center’s program cost within reach of its patients. It is important to us that our patients can afford to complete our programs without the help of insurance companies, many of which have yet to include weight loss programs on their list of covered treatments. Many of our competitors will charge hundreds – even thousands – of dollars for each visit, and even more money on top of that for additional supplements and materials. At Physician’s Weight Control & Wellness, our pricing is straightforward and significantly less than most of our competitors. For more information, visit our patient fees and pricing page.
Why should I choose your program over others?
At Physician’s Weight Control & Wellness, we pride ourselves on the following:
- Over 50 years of experience in bariatric medicine and nutrition
- Compassionate, enthusiastic and caring staff
- Fair and competitive pricing
- Up-to-date knowledge of and contribution to the field’s latest research findings
- Adherence to the Obesity Medical Association (OMA)’s “principles of excellence”
- Always putting the patients’ welfare above all;
- Avoiding value judgments concerning a patient’s behavior;
- Complying with all state and federal laws;
- Providing adequate and truthful information to the patient about their disease; and
- Cooperating fully with other physicians in providing medical care to every patient.
What tests do are included in the initial examination?
Our lab panel includes:
- Glucose levels
- Calcium, potassium and other levels
- Liver function
- Kidney function
- Serum triglyceride levels
- HDL, LDL and Total cholesterol levels
- Thyroid testing panel, including free T3, freeT4 and TSH CBC tests.
We will also perform an EKG and a blood pressure test to determine your general health profile. These lab panels and tests are repeated every 18 months of treatment.
How often do I come in to the office?
Typically, follow-up visits are monthly. The first and second visits are used primarily to discuss lab results, gather feedback on effectiveness of medications, and/or to make adjustments to medication dosage. After these initial visits, a patient may opt to see our nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, or other consultants for regular check-ins. Once a plan is developed and certain health conditions are met, a patient may opt to use our convenient Medical Refill Authorization (MRA) form instead of physically visiting our office, which will provide their doctor with the progress updates needed for medication refills. Using MRA forms (at the discretion of our physicians) only requires the patient to visit once every 3 months.
After completion of the active weight loss phase, patients enter our maintenance program and can opt to visit our office on an as-needed basis. Typically, patients in the maintenance program schedule their as-needed appointments during particularly stressful times or holidays, which is when many patients need extra support. Our physicians understand that weight loss is a lifestyle change with many ups and downs, and we are here for our patients as long as is needed.
Why does Physician’s Weight Control & Wellness request that each patient see a primary care physician?
While our practitioners are trained and qualified to perform complete primary care, bariatric medicine is a specialty that requires specific resources, training, and attention. Our main focus is your weight loss journey, and as such we request that you maintain a relationship with a primary care physician to manage other areas of your health and any existing conditions. Although high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and many other diagnoses often accompany the diagnosis of obesity, we do not directly or routinely treat these illnesses. Our weight loss treatments can have positive residual effects on these other medical conditions, but it is up to your primary care physician to oversee screening, monitoring, and treatment of the other aspects of your health. We recommend getting approval from your primary care physician before starting one of our weight loss programs.
What are Physician's Weight Control & Wellness Center's office hours?
Our office hours for each location are listed on the Information for Patients page and at the bottom of each page of the website. Each office has different hours on different days. Our practitioners rotate between offices so be sure to call the office you are interested in to schedule your appointment.
How long does each visit take?
We realize and respect that time is precious to each patient and try to arrange our schedule and office to accommodate busy schedules. First time patients can typically expect to be in the office 60-90 minutes from start to finish. Follow-up appointments usually last about 30 minutes.
Will my insurance pay for the treatment?
Many insurance companies do not cover the management of obesity as a billable diagnosis. Because of this, we do not file insurance in our offices. However, we will provide a complete itemized super bill with all the information needed for you to seek reimbursement from your insurance company. In some cases, the comprehensive blood testing can be covered, or if there is an accompanying illness to the obesity diagnosis there may be additional coverage. We recommend that you contact your insurance provider to determine if our programs are covered under your plan.
Are there any pre-packaged meals?
No. We never insist you purchase pre-packaged meals from us. We want you to learn to eat right and purchase the correct foods from your grocery store.
Is it safe?
Our program is very safe provided that you follow our physicians’ treatment plan as prescribed.
Are there side effects?
As long as you follow our treatment programs as prescribed, the main side effects you should experience are feeling better, stronger and happier. Some patients that lose an extreme amount of weight can experience excess or loose skin – to help with this, we offer injection treatments that can reduce the appearance of these side effects.
What exercise is required?
Our plan does not require a specific exercise program, however we encourage an active lifestyle and we hope that your will maintain or increase your activity levels throughout the program.
When will I start seeing results?
Each person’s body responds differently to our treatments, but the majority of our clients who are dedicated to following our programs have seen significant weight loss. Some patients will lose weight faster than others – it depends on your personal metabolism and your dedication to your individual plan.
Will I gain the weight back?
This is entirely up to you – if you maintain the habits taught by our programs, you should continue to keep the weight off.
Is Botox safe?
Yes, the medication is FDA-approved.