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4 Things to Consider Before Starting Ozempic

April 10, 2024

For many people with diabetes and obesity, weight loss drugs might seem like a perfect pathway to health. But if you’re thinking of starting Ozempic, there are a few things you should know.

We asked an expert to break it down.

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1. Ozempic isn’t for everyone.

Over the past year, Ozempic has been trending in Hollywood and beyond for casual weight loss. But it really shouldn’t.

First, rapid weight loss isn’t healthy — and it almost never works long-term. Second, these medications are only FDA-approved for people who meet strict health criteria, like being diagnosed with diabetes and having a certain body mass index.

“Ozempic is certainly not for casual or cosmetic use. These medications aren’t safe or effective for people who don’t meet the requirements,” says Joseph St. Pierre, DO, a medical weight loss specialist with Hartford HealthCare.

2. It takes months, even years, to achieve lasting results.

We now know that obesity is a chronic, long-term disease, and medications like Ozempic treat it as such.

For example, the 2021 clinical trial of Ozempic — which led to its FDA approval — lasted 68 weeks. For many people, that’s just the beginning.

“There is nothing quick about these medications,” says Dr. St. Pierre. “Patients are likely on it for at least two years, and possibly for life.”

> Related: Why You Shouldn’t Get Ozempic Prescribed Online

3. Most people experience side effects.

In the Ozempic clinical trial, about nine out of 10 people reported side effects like nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux and heart palpitations.

Another common complaint: Low energy. “These medications can over-suppress your appetite so you do not eat enough, leading to exhaustion,” says Dr. St. Pierre.

That said, for most people, the side effects are tolerable. “While almost every participant had at least some side effects, more than 90% finished the trial,” says Dr. St. Pierre.

4. When you stop Ozempic, the weight comes back.

Semaglutide medications like Ozempic are meant to be taken long-term, similar to how you might think about taking medication for high blood pressure or cholesterol. If you stop, the benefits often stop too.

To be specific, the 2021 clinical trial showed that when people stopped taking Ozempic, they regained about two-thirds of the weight they’d lost within a year.

The reason? “You have a set genetic weight,” says Dr. St. Pierre. “Our bodies evolved for a low-food environment that does not match our current culture.”

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But Ozempic also has major upsides.

Weight loss is almost never quick or easy, especially with conditions like obesity and diabetes. Like it or not, medications like Ozempic aren’t quick or easy either. But if you meet the criteria, it may be the missing puzzle piece you need to reach a healthy weight.

The key to long-term success? Working closely with a weight loss specialist who can provide a holistic — and sustainable — approach to weight loss.

“When used correctly and under the care of a doctor, these medications can help you lead a much healthier life,” says Dr. St. Pierre.

Am I eligible for weight loss surgery?

Take this health risk assessment to learn what it takes to qualify for Hartford HealthCare’s Surgical Weight Loss Program and what it could mean for your health.

Visit website Call Call 855.792.6258