The Dangers of Ozempic for Weight Loss: Understanding the Science and Risks

Skincare Anarchy
5 min readFeb 14, 2024

By Shahara Lum

Finding a way to lose weight has become a main priority for many people. In 2024, many struggle with health issues such as obesity and diabetes — listed in the top 10 most common health issues. The prescription drug Ozempic — generic name: semaglutide has gained popularity as a treatment for weight loss.

Although it is a licensed drug used by those with type 2 diabetes, it has fallen into the hands of those who want to achieve weight loss. However, there are concerns over Ozempic’s safety and long-term health complications — doctors warn them about the permanent and deadly damages that come with Ozempic use.

What exactly is Ozempic?

Ozempic is an injection used weekly, lowering blood sugar by promoting the release of insulin — delaying stomach emptying. Furthermore, this hormone is essential in controlling appetite and food intake, creating a feeling of fullness. Ozempic also enhances these effects when taken as a prescription — lowering hunger and calorie intake, eventually leading to noticeable weight loss. Nonetheless, it is not approved for weight loss [5].

Does Ozempic work for weight loss?

While this drug can help achieve significant weight loss, some people have experienced unexpected side effects, such as rapid fat loss. Still, these effects unfortunately go beyond simply losing fat. For one, users have reported extreme facial volume loss, appearing more aged and haggard. According to experts, the drug’s effect on hunger reduction may result in a decrease in total fat storage, in the face, frequently evident in the setting of rapid weight loss — the exact effects are not fully understood.

In this case, Ozempic will not address the issues that cause binge eating and other eating disorders — research indicates that quitting the medicine tends to result in gaining back weight loss. Yes, it can assist in weight loss, lowering the chance of developing severe medical disorders, such as heart issues — it typically results in extremely bigger and long-lasting weight reduction. Further, doctors advise against using Ozempic unless a person has type 2 diabetes [2].

The side effects of Ozempic use

There are certainly many side effects when using Ozempic. And while the appeal of quick weight loss seems promising, the potential dangers of Ozempic will make you think twice. Side effects include:

• Heartburn

• Fatigue

• Stomach Pain

• Constipation

• Gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

• Hair loss: the exact cause of hair loss related to Ozempic is not fully understood. It is believed to be linked to nutritional deficiencies due to limited food intake and the body’s response to excessive weight change.

• Rash

• Fever

• Yellow eyes or skin

• Chronic upper stomach pain

• Vision problems

• Dizziness or fainting

• Swelling of throat, tongue, mouth, face, or eyes

  • Problems swallowing or breathing
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Changes to your face: such as aging and unhealthy appearance
  • Kidney disease

At the start of using Ozempic, you might experience stomach aches in the beginning — they usually fade away with time. However, this can also cause loss of appetite at the start of treatment. While the side effects of Ozempic are not life-threatening, they can still cause some discomfort such as headache, rash, swelling, and stomach pain. It is essential to keep these potential adverse effects in mind as you begin using Ozempic.

It is also important to remember that Ozempic is not an FDA-approved drug for weight loss alone — using it for this reason is referred to as “off-label.” When healthcare providers administer medication for weight loss, especially in patients who are not diabetic, doctors carefully consider the advantages and dangers above.

Does Ozempic come with benefits?

Yes, weight loss — lowers the chances of developing health issues, particularly for obese patients and people with type 2 diabetes. In addition to these benefits, some people who take Ozempic have reported feeling more energetic and experiencing fewer food cravings. Like any medication, Ozempic may not be a suitable drug for everyone because it can have potential and permanent side effects [1].

Who cannot use it?

According to Dr. Butsch “Anti-obesity medications are, for most people, medications you stay on for extended periods of time, so if you cannot afford the medication when the coupon runs out, it is not going to be effective long-term. These are the conversations you should be having with a medical professional who understands obesity. Additionally, obesity is a chronic disease. Medications prescribed to treat obesity are used in the same way we treat diseases like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Medications are used in combination with lifestyle modification to increase long-term effectiveness. One of the most common misconceptions is that people believe they could take a medication for a few months, then stop, and maintain weight. However, you are likely to regain the lost weight once the medication is stopped” [3].

The bottom line, Ozempic is not a medication used for short-term weight loss. Furthermore, the drug is not a quick fix if you want to drop a couple of pounds. While studies have shown that it can also aid in weight loss by reducing appetite and increasing feelings of fullness. It is important to note that the weight loss effects of Ozempic are most effective in people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or higher. If you are considering taking Ozempic for weight loss. Remember, the medication is not a quick fix and requires a long-term commitment to achieve and maintain weight loss goals.

FDA-approved alternatives for weight loss

Here are better choices with similar features like Ozempic but are FDA-approved:

Wegovy is a higher-dose version of Ozempic that is FDA-approved for weight loss. It is a better choice than Ozempic. There are no common side effects when taking Wegovy. However, it should not be taken by those who have chronic pancreatitis or have a history of certain cancers [4].

Saxenda, an injectable like Ozempic, is approved for weight loss and instead of injecting weekly, you inject Saexenda every day. Unlike Wegovy, you do not lose as much weight [4].

As always, talk to your healthcare provider to discuss your health issues or concerns about wanting to lose weight. And if you do not suffer from diabetes or obesity there are better ways to lose weight such as diet, exercise, and consulting a doctor.

References:

[1] https://health.ucdavis.edu/blog/cultivating-health/ozempic-for-weight-loss-does-it-work-and-what-do-experts-recommend/2023/07

[2] https://withinhealth.com/learn/articles/semaglutide-ozempic-weight-loss-risks

[3] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/ozempic-for-weight-loss

[4] https://www.goodrx.com/classes/glp-1-agonists/ozempic-alternatives#

[5] https://health.ucdavis.edu/blog/cultivating-health/ozempic-for-weight-loss-does-it-work-and-what-do-experts-recommend/2023/07#:~:text=What%20is%20Ozempic%3F,the%20pancreas%20make%20more%20insulin.

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