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15 Things to Know Before Getting Ozempic for Weight Loss

Yes, there are side effects.
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

Over 41 percent of US adults are obese, according to the CDC—so it's no wonder drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy are in such high demand to help people lose weight fast. "Obesity is an epidemic," endocrinologist Anne Peters, MD, tells Keck Medicine of USC. "Many people are obese and overweight in the United States. That causes all sorts of problems. So, if we can get them to lose weight easily and simply, why not?" Here are 15 things to know before you ask your doctor for Ozempic.

What Is Ozempic?


Ozempic mimics the hormone GLP-1, helping control blood sugar and make you feel more full. "Ozempic, known generically as semaglutide, was approved in 2017 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in adults with type 2 diabetes," says UC Davis Health. "Ozempic is a weekly injection that helps lower blood sugar by helping the pancreas make more insulin. It is not approved for weight loss, but some physicians prescribe it to be used for weight loss."

What Does Ozempic Treat?


Ozempic was designed to treat type 2 diabetes. "When using Ozempic to treat diabetes, weight loss is a common side effect," says UC Davis Health. "It is designed to be taken long-term."

Ozempic For Weight Loss

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"Typically, I prescribe Ozempic for diabetes and have more often prescribed Wegovy for weight loss," endocrinologist Alyssa Dominguez, MD, tells Keck Medicine of USC. "I have used Ozempic, sometimes, off-label for weight loss, though getting insurance approval for that can be challenging. And of course, when using Ozempic to treat diabetes, weight loss can be a common side effect. People with diabetes are also often struggling with being overweight or obese. So, it's helpful to have that weight loss, as well."

Who Can Prescribe Ozempic?

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Ozempic is prescribed by a medical professional. Blood work should be taken beforehand. "Ozempic can be prescribed by any licensed clinician, including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants," Veronica R. Johnson, MD, tells Forbes.

How Much Does Ozempic Cost?

Ozempic Insulin injection pen or insulin cartridge pen for diabetics. Medical equipment for diabetes parients. Copenhagen, Denmark - May 17, 2023.

Without insurance, Ozempic can cost around $900 a month. "One of the challenges with these medications is that obesity isn't recognized as a disease in this country, so people can't get them covered with insurance," Dr. Peters says.

What Are Ozempic Side Effects?

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Ozempic has unpleasant side effects for some people, such as belching, constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting. "Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation," practicing radiologist physician Omer Awan MD, MPH, CIIP, tells Forbes. "However, more serious side effects that can occur include inflammation of the pancreas and gallbladder, changes in vision, allergic reactions like a skin rash, problems with the kidneys, as well as the development of a specific type of thyroid cancer."

What Happens When You Stop Taking Ozempic?

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"It's important to note that if you start taking either of these drugs for weight loss, your body may get used to it, establishing a new normal," says UC Davis Health. "This can cause your weight to plateau. Research has shown that if you stop taking Ozempic (or Wegovy), it's likely that you will gain back the weight you lost."

RELATED: What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Taking Ozempic

What Is 'Food Noise'?

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Ozempic turns off 'food noise', a term that refers to constant intrusive thoughts about food, which can make dieting difficult if not impossible. "Some providers haven't yet come to understand that obesity is a disease that can (and often should) be treated medically," says Dr. Butsch. "And many people living with obesity have internalized a stigma that makes them believe their obesity is somehow their fault. So, they aren't asking for medication as a route to treatment."

Ozempic and Diet

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You still need to adopt a healthy diet while taking Ozempic. "Medications are used in combination with lifestyle modification to increase long-term effectiveness," W. Scott Butsch, MD, MSC, tells the Cleveland Clinic. "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're likely to regain the lost weight once the medication is stopped."

RELATED: 5 Foods That Maximize Weight Loss on GLP-1 Medicines, According to Coach

How Much Weight Can You Lose?

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Research shows people can lose an average of 15 percent of their body weight. "There's a huge range of how much weight a person may lose while using these medications," Dr. Peters says. "Some people may lose 50 pounds, but others won't lose any. Results depend on the person and other behavioral modifications, like diet and exercise."

Who Is the Ideal Candidate For Ozempic?

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"For prescribing Wegovy for weight loss, a person must have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater," Dr. Dominguez says. "It's also approved for use in people with a BMI of 27 or greater, who have an accompanying overweight- or obesity-related condition, such as high blood pressure or sleep apnea."

RELATED: What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Apples

Ozempic Benefits


Ozempic's benefits may go beyond weight loss. "Ozempic can help people lose weight, which can reduce the risk for many other serious health conditions, such as heart problems," says UC Davis Health. "Semaglutide treatments can also be used as an alternative to bariatric surgery for some patients who are obese."

RELATED: 8 Reasons You Aren't Losing Weight That Have Nothing to Do with Your Metabolism

What Is 'Ozempic Face'?

Montreal, CA - 16 November 2023: Ozempic semaglutide injection pens. Ozempic is a medication for obesity

Ozempic face is an unfortunate side effect of quick weight loss. "The buzzy term, coined by a New York dermatologist, describes the gaunt or hollow look of sagging facial skin that can appear when people lose excess fat in their cheeks or neck,"  Al Aly, MD, tells UT Southwestern Medical Center. "For patients who lose 50-100 pounds, there is often a significant deflation in many parts of the body, leading to an unappealing change in appearance. Extra skin gathers on the body, including the belly, buttocks, back, chest, breasts, legs, and arms."

Ozempic and Exercise

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It's important to develop healthy habits while taking Ozempic. "These drugs should be used with lifestyle modification," Dr. Eduardo Grunvald, obesity medicine physician at UC San Diego Health, tells NBC News. "If you have to watch your diet and exercise with the medications, that's what they're meant for."

RELATED: 15 Quick Ways to Lose Body Fat Percentage in a Week

Who Shouldn't Take Ozempic?


Not everyone is a good fit for Ozempic. "Patients younger than 18 years of age, pregnant individuals, those with a history of pancreatitis, type one diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, and a family history of some thyroid tumors should avoid taking Ozempic," Dr. Awan says. "The drug is meant to be used for long-term therapy of diabetes, since diabetes is a chronic, long-lasting disease."

💪🔥Body Booster: Long-term healthy habits are crucial for success, with or without Ozempic.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more