The Potential Side Effects of Quick-Weight Loss Solutions: The ‘Ozempic Face’
Recently, injectable prescription medications intended for type 2 diabetes and clinical obesity have become increasingly popular as a quick-weight loss solution. Ozempic, Wegovy, and Tirzepatide (marketed as Mounjaro) have been touted by Hollywood’s elite and others seeking to shed pounds quickly, leading to shortages of these medications. However, patients should be aware of the potential side effects, including the ‘Ozempic face’, which refers to the facial changes that can occur when someone loses a significant amount of weight quickly, resulting in a skinny and gaunt appearance.
Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a New York-based dermatologist, is credited with coining the term ‘Ozempic face’ and has seen this phenomenon in his office every day. He explained to The New York Times that fat in the face helps maintain a naturally youthful appearance, and when it is lost, the face can appear significantly older. Similarly, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, explained that weight loss from any source, whether from diet, exercise, surgery or medication, can take a toll on the face, making it appear gaunt and skeletonized.
The drug Ozempic is FDA-approved as a treatment for type 2 diabetes to improve blood sugar, along with diet and exercise, and reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke, or death in adults with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease. The Food and Drug Administration approved Ozempic for weight loss in adults with obesity or those who are overweight and have least one weight-related health condition, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, in 2021. Although Ozempic has not been approved for weight loss, some doctors may still prescribe it off-label for this purpose.
A study of more than 1,000 people with type 2 diabetes found that semaglutide (the same molecule as Ozempic) was more effective than insulin at lowering blood sugar. A study involving almost 2,000 overweight or obese adults without diabetes showed that those taking semaglutide lost an average of 34 pounds within a period of less than 16 weeks, whereas those given a placebo only lost 6 pounds.
However, patients should be aware that when the medication is stopped, they may regain the weight they lost.
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