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The truth about Ozempic: Here’s what to expect (and what’s a myth)

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Although Ozempic® (semaglutide) received U.S.Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2017 as a treatment for adults with type 2 diabetes, anyone who's read the news or clicked through social media in the past couple of years knows this isn't just another medication among many for that condition.

Given semaglutide's efficacy for helping with weight loss—which led the FDA to approve it for adults with obesity and overweight under the name Wegovy® in June 2021—stories and claims about semaglutide have exploded. And that hasn't always been a good thing. Plenty of half-truths and even downright misinformation about the drug have exploded, too.

Let's review some of the most prevalent myths and misstatements about this drug and go over the truth about Ozempic. 

Claim #1: Ozempic will negatively affect your face or butt

Although the term "Ozempic face" might be catchy, it's also misleading because it suggests that off-label use of Ozempic for weight loss can cause issues like a hollow appearance under the cheekbones or sagging facial skin. Similarly, the phrase "Ozempic butt" has cropped up, with some online commentators saying the medication causes sagging there, too. 

The truth about “Ozempic body”

The fact is that any weight loss causes body composition changes as you lose fat stores, and that may affect your face, abdominal region, butt, or other areas of the body. (It’s also true that people taking Ozempic for type 2 diabetes might also experience changes in body composition.) Predicting how each person will respond is difficult, but research indicates that losing weight at a controlled, steady pace—rather than a fast and drastic weight drop—can help mitigate “Ozempic body.”

Claim #2: You regain weight as soon as you stop Ozempic

While this statement contains some truth, it needs to be put into context. Research published in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism found that participants in one clinical trial who took semaglutide regained two-thirds of what they’d lost over 68 weeks after stopping the medication. However, researchers noted that those participants did keep some of the weight off. More importantly, they also kept many of the cardiovascular improvements that came with the initial weight loss.

The truth about regain  

The risk of weight regain is one of the top reasons it makes sense to work with a health care provider trained in obesity medicine. A clinician who understands the pathways of obesity can guide you toward longer-term weight management rather than just defaulting to an "on or off" approach to using a medication like semaglutide for weight loss.

For example, perhaps some of those who stopped taking semaglutide went back to habits that led to weight gain in the first place without addressing the underlying causes of their overweight or obesity. Identifying the drivers behind your weight issues, such as constant cravings or emotional eating, through Found’s proprietary MetabolicPrint™ assessment and then addressing those issues with a health coach and a health care provider trained in obesity medicine—such as Found’s affiliated providers—can be part of a layered strategy directed at helping to prevent weight regain.

Claim #3: Ozempic causes muscle loss or bone loss

Research suggests that similar to body composition changes, rapidly losing weight can have negative side effects on muscle mass and bone density. Regardless of how you lose weight—whether with a GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist) drug like Ozempic, bariatric surgery, a medically supervised very low-calorie diet (VLCD), or another method—losing weight too fast can contribute to developing sarcopenia or a loss of lean muscle mass. 

The truth about Ozempic and muscle loss 

Controlling the pace of weight loss so it's a gradual decrease each week and then maintaining a healthy body weight can have the opposite effect. Not only can it help with bone and muscle health, but it can also improve hormonal function and metabolism. If you’re using a drug like Ozempic to lose weight, starting a strength training program is important to help maintain your muscle mass. 

Claim #4: Ozempic is a good fit for anyone who wants to lose weight

A steady stream of media about Ozempic’s effectiveness for weight loss—even though that is not what it’s FDA-approved to treat—leads many people to believe that using Ozempic off-label is the best option to help them reach their weight loss goals. 

The truth about using Ozempic to lose weight

Although sometimes touted as a one-size-fits-all solution for weight loss, the truth is that research has found that semaglutide works well for some people but not others. In fact, in one 68-week trial, 14% of people taking semaglutide every week didn’t lose weight.

One of the important breakthroughs of obesity medicine is the growing list of pharmaceutical options that target the different root causes of weight gain. The goal is to personalize treatment to help each person reach their goals. (Let’s face it, the one-size-fits-all approach of giving everyone the same diet plan or drug just doesn’t work.)

That's why Found offers one-on-one consultations with physicians trained in obesity medicine and can do a MetabolicPrint analysis. You’ll work with a Found-affiliated provider to develop a plan and get personalized prescriptions tailored to work with your biology. That might mean Ozempic, but it could also be one or more of several different weight loss medications that work better for your needs.

It’s also important to note that the FDA warns not to take Ozempic if you have or have a family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), insulin-dependent diabetes, or diabetic ketoacidosis. So, if that's you, Ozempic isn't the right fit. 

Claim #5: You can get thyroid cancer from Ozempic

The claim that semaglutide causes thyroid cancer comes from rodent studies that found the drug caused thyroid tumors, including MTC in some animals. 

The truth about cancer risk

Although it’s not known if semaglutide will cause thyroid tumors or MTC in people, Ozempic does provide a warning about the possibility in itsfull prescribing information. It's important to note that this risk has only been seen in rodents, and we don’t know whether Ozempic has a similar effect in humans.

If you have trouble swallowing, develop hoarseness, or feel swelling or a lump in your neck, contact your Found health care provider immediately.

You should be aware of other things when taking Ozempic, too. The most common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Less common risks include pancreatitis, low blood sugar, and more serious gastrointestinal side effects. To learn more about the risks and side effects of Ozempic, visit our dedicated Ozempic page

Claim #6: Ozempic is all you need for weight loss

With some people losing 20% of their body weight or more as a result of using weight loss and diabetes drugs like Ozempic, some users think they can skip fitness or healthy eating.

The truth about weight loss with Ozempic

Although prescription medication like semaglutide can be integral to your personalized weight management plan, many other components can help you maintain long-term success.

In addition to using your unique MetabolicPrint profile to assess the root causes of your weight challenges, Found also offers health coaching, a lifestyle change program designed by experts, and a supportive in-app community. These resources can be empowering and meaningful in a way that helps you take charge of your weight management—and that's no myth.

About Found

To discover your MetabolicPrint and start your journey with Found, take our quiz. Found is among the largest medically supported weight care clinics in the country, having served more than 200,000 members to date.

GLP-1*

GLP-1 prescriptions, filled through your local pharmacy, are now available as part of Found's weight-loss toolkit. While GLP-1s can be effective for weight loss, they are not clinically appropriate for everyone. Eligibility for a GLP-1 is based on a thorough evaluation of your medical history and lab work. If a GLP-1 is not appropriate for you, our providers will work with you to determine an effective medication for your health profile.

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