Can Xenical® Help You Lose Weight?

A woman doing exercise

Can a prescription medication really help treat or manage obesity?   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 71.6% of adults over the age of 20 in the United States are overweight and/or obese.  Health risks associated with obesity include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout
  • Breathing problems
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Some forms of cancer
What treatments are available to treat obesity?

As most people know, a healthy exercise routine, behavior/habit changes and a healthy diet can help you lose weight. However, there are some people who are overweight or obese and may lose weight, but have trouble keeping weight off.  Doctors may prescribe certain prescription medications such as Xenical® (orlistat) to help reduce this weight regain after prior weight loss.

How does prescription Xenical® help with weight management?

Xenical® helps patients maintain weight loss (i.e. not gain it back).   Keeping the weight off helps reduce the health risks associated with obesity.   Xenical® blocks certain enzymes that break down fat in the diet, which then causes up to 30% of the undigested fat to simply pass through the digestive system and out of the body.

It is important to note that Xenical® does not block calories from being digested, so a proper healthy lower-calorie diet must still be maintained to see weight loss results.

How do you take Xenical® for weight management?

Xenical® comes in a 120 mg capsule.

This medication must be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor. It is usually taken three times daily, during a meal that may have fat in the foods, or up to an hour after a meal.

Taking more Xenical® does not give you greater results.  Never increase or decrease this medication without speaking to your doctor.

Xenical® may interfere with the absorption of certain fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, so taking a multivitamin is recommended, and should be taken either two hours before or after taking Xenical®.

If you take levothyroxine for hypothyroidism, be sure to take it either four hours before or after taking Xenical®.

What are the side effects of Xenical®?

One of the side effects of Xenical® is nausea, so it is important that your daily diet not contain more than 30% of calories from fat.  Meals need to be a healthy balance of fat, carbohydrate and protein.

The most common side effect is a change in bowel movements due to the unabsorbed fat being sent through the digestive system.  Some of these changes may include:

  • Oily spotting
  • Intestinal gas with spotting
  • Increased number of bowel movements
  • Poor bowel control
  • The feeling of needing to have an urgent bowel movement

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following side effects:

  • Signs of kidney stones – back pain, blood in urine, pain when urinating
  • Signs of liver disease – yellowing eyes, vomiting/nausea, severe abdominal pain, dark urine, yellow eyes/skin
  • Signs of allergic reaction – itching, swelling, rash, dizziness, trouble breathing

Speak to your pharmacist about all possible side effects.

How fast does Xenical® work?

Most patients will start to see weight loss within 2 weeks of starting prescription Xenical®.

If you have questions about your prescription medications or any other medication, please contact our team at Canada Online Health by calling toll free 1-800-399-DRUG (3784). One of our patient representatives will be happy to assist you or transfer you to a licensed Canadian pharmacist for a free consultation.

This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.  It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation.  If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).

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