Ozempic and Wegovy, Here’s the Skinny. In this post, I will examine whether these two new diabetic medications that are being used for weight loss are carrots to help patients lose weight or sticks that beat folks up with their side effects. You be the judge. I’ll also address the popular terms in social media posts regarding “Ozempic butt” and “Ozempic face.”
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic (generic name: semaglutide) is a medication used to improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. It belongs to a class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists.
These drugs copy the action of GLP-1, a naturally occurring hormone that increases insulin secretion, slows gastric emptying, and reduces glucagon secretion, and also affects parts of the brain that reduce appetite and signal satiety all of which help lower blood sugar levels.
Ozempic is used as an injection once a week. It is not used for the treatment of type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis.
In addition to its glucose-lowering effects, Ozempic has also been shown to promote weight loss in some people and has been used off-label for chronic weight management in certain patients.
Like all medications, Ozempic can have side effects.
Who makes Ozempic?
Ozempic is made by Novo Nordisk, a global healthcare company based in Denmark and is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies in the diabetes market.
What is Wegovy?
Wegovy (semaglutide) is an injectable prescription medicine used for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or who are overweight and have at least one weight-related medical condition (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes). It is intended for use alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.
Wegovy is a higher-dose formulation of semaglutide than Ozempic. While Ozempic is approved for the management of blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, Wegovy is approved specifically for weight management.
Wegovy is also made by Novo Nordisk, who developed Wegovy specifically for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight conditions in conjunction with weight-related medical issues.
How does Ozempic and Wegovy work?
Semaglutide, the active ingredient in both Ozempic and Wegovy, belongs to a class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. These drugs copy the action of GLP-1, a hormone that can increase feelings of fullness, reduce hunger, and subsequently reduce food intake.
Blood Sugar Control. Ozempic’s primary benefit is the improvement of blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. It increases insulin secretion, reduces glucagon secretion (a hormone that increases blood sugar), and slows gastric emptying. All these actions help lower blood sugar.
Reduction in Cardiovascular Events. In some studies, Ozempic has shown a reduction in the risk of major cardiovascular events like heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular death in adults with type 2 diabetes and established cardiovascular disease.
Weight Loss. While its primary indication is for diabetes management, many patients on Ozempic also experience weight loss, which can be an additional benefit, especially since obesity often coexists with type 2 diabetes. In clinical trials for type 2 diabetes management, participants taking Ozempic experienced notable weight loss. The exact amount of weight loss varied depending on the study and the dose, but patients often lost several pounds over the study duration.
Weight Loss. Wegovy’s primary indication is for chronic weight management. Clinical trials have shown significant weight loss in participants, with some losing, on average, about 15% of their initial body weight after a year. Wegovy has demonstrated more significant weight loss in clinical trials compared to Ozempic’s use in diabetes.
Improved Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Along with weight loss, Wegovy has been shown to improve various cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and waist circumference.
Appetite Regulation. The mechanism of GLP-1 receptor agonists also affects the central nervous system, reducing appetite and increasing feelings of fullness, which can assist with weight management.
Factors like the starting weight, diet, physical activity level, adherence to the medication, and other individual factors can influence the amount of weight loss a patient might experience.
Ozempic and Wegovy Side Effects
Ozempic and Wegovy like all medications have potential side effects and contraindications. Here are some potential problems or considerations associated with Ozempic and Wegovy.
Side Effects The most common side effects include:
- Abdominal pain
- Decreased appetite
Risk of Thyroid Tumors GLP-1 receptor agonists, including semaglutide, have caused thyroid C-cell tumors in rodents, though it’s not known if Ozempic causes these tumors in humans. It should not be used in people with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or in people with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).
Pancreatitis: There’s a risk of acute pancreatitis. Patients should be informed about the symptoms and should discontinue Ozempic or Wegovy if pancreatitis is suspected.
Diabetic Retinopathy: In some studies, the worsening of diabetic retinopathy has been observed during semaglutide treatment.
Hypoglycemia: While Ozempic and Wegovy themselves have a lower risk of causing low blood sugar, when used with other drugs that can cause hypoglycemia (like sulfonylureas or insulin), the risk increases.
Kidney Problems: There have been postmarketing reports of acute kidney injury and worsening of chronic renal failure with GLP-1 receptor agonists. It’s important to monitor renal function during treatment.
What is the new warning about Ozempic and Wegovy?
The reason it’s making headlines is that the FDA added a new warning to the Ozempic label. FDA said the medication will now include a warning about potential intestinal blockage. That legal warning was also added to the weight loss drug Wegovy.
The medical term for intestinal blockage is “ileus,” and 18 cases of it in people taking Ozempic have been reported to the FDA. The FDA has received more than 8,500 reports of gastrointestinal issues among people taking medications like Ozempic and Wegovy. Ileus is mentioned in 33 cases, including two deaths, of people taking drugs containing semaglutide.
Gastroparesis, or stomach paralysis which can be difficult to treat, causes severe nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms. A study found that gastroparesis was seen at a rate of about 10 cases per 1,000 semaglutide users and 7 cases per 1,000 liraglutide users
What is Ozempic butt?
“Ozempic butt” popularized by social media, means having loose skin on your backside after experiencing weight loss due to Ozempic. People with Ozempic butt also report having smaller bottoms than before they started taking the medication.
What causes Ozempic butt?
“It’s the weight loss itself,” according to Jamie Alan, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University. When you’re losing weight, you’re losing fat and muscle. You carry some fat stores but also some muscle stores in your butt region. People may notice that everything is smaller.”
When weight loss is fast, it can make it tough for your skin to keep up, according to Gary Goldenberg, M.D., a dermatologist practicing in New York City. “Weight loss, especially rapid, removes subcutaneous fat support from the tissue,” he says. “Rapid weight loss does not allow collagen and elastic fibers to adjust to this lack of support and results in severely sagging skin.”
Who is most likely to experience Ozempic butt?
How quickly you lose weight can play a role. People who lose weight fast may be more likely to develop a saggier butt.
The amount of weight you lose matters, too. “The dermis—the inner layer of the two main layers of skin—has some potential to recover from mild weight loss,” Dr. Goldenberg says. “But severe weight loss doesn’t allow the skin to recover.”
Age also plays a role. “Older patients have less capacity for producing new collagen and elastic fibers, so they are at a higher risk,” Dr. Goldenberg says.
What is Ozempic face?
Ozempic face refers to the facial changes that patients who’ve lost a significant amount of weight sometimes experience, primarily a loss of facial fat that can leave the face sagging and looking older, a gaunt look. It’s especially common in middle-aged and older patients.
What does Ozempic do to your face?
If you experience fast weight loss while taking Ozempic, especially a large amount, you may see facial changes, a global facial wasting. This can mean wrinkling and heaviness around and under the eyes, temples, jawline, and mouth.
The term “Ozempic face” refers to the loss of facial fat that can leave the face sagging and looking older. It’s especially common in middle-aged and older patients. According to Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a New York City-based dermatologist, he sees “Ozempic face” “every day in patients” since it has exploded in popularity.
Is there a lawsuit against Ozempic?
The first such GLP-1 drug lawsuit filed involved a woman who began receiving Ozempic injections in the spring of 2022. According to the plaintiff, within two years’ time, she was suffering from severe stomach paralysis. Switching to another medication, Mounjaro did not alleviate her symptoms.
Injured or have questions about Ozempic, or Wegovy?
Did you or a loved one experience gastrointestinal or gastroparesis injuries after taking Ozempic, or Wegovy? Dr. Shezad Malik law firm based in Dallas, Texas is now reviewing injuries after taking Ozempic, Wegovy, or other GLP-1 agonists cases nationwide. Please call 214-390-3189 or email us for further information.
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Shezad Malik is an Internal Medicine and Cardiology specialist, a Texas Medical Doctor (retired) and Defective Medical Device and Dangerous Drug Attorney. Dr. Shezad Malik Law Firm has offices based in Fort Worth and Dallas and represents people who have suffered catastrophic and serious personal injuries including wrongful death, caused by the negligence or recklessness of others.