Semaglutide: not just a celebrity weight loss drug

The secret is out. Celebrities are flooding the headlines with news of a weight loss wonder drug that causes the pounds to fall off fast. But this drug is no secret, and although Semaglutide is the new Hollywood trend, when used appropriately, it is life altering for persons who are chronically obese working to achieve a healthy weight. Just ask those already on it!

Semaglutide is a prescription medication originally approved for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes as Ozempic. Classified as a glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) receptor agonist, Semaglutide showed significant results in diabetic patients by decreasing blood sugar levels and suppressing appetite thus leading to weight loss. It has also been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

In 2021, the FDA approved Wegovy, a Semaglutide injection, for use in adults with obesity or persons with at least one weight-related condition (for example hypertension, diabetes, or high cholesterol). The drug became a silver bullet for those who could afford it and access it by prescription. While A list celebrities raved about the miraculous weight loss results, there are some concerns that Semaglutide is being inappropriately used. 

So, who can use Wegovy and who cannot?

Wegovy, active ingredient: Semaglutide, is only available by prescription from a licensed medical professional and is not recommended for casual use in persons trying to shed a few pounds. A medical provider must evaluate a patient to see if they are eligible to start and continue this medication. If a prescription is granted, monthly weight visits are required to reassess weight loss, the benefits of the medication and side effects when utilized with lifestyle changes.

Wegovy is only available in a once-weekly subcutaneous injection formulation. While weight loss itself is enticing, the idea of taking an injection once a week may not be appealing to persons with trypanophobia (an extreme fear of needles). A weight loss specialist can recommend alternative treatment in cases where this injectables is not appropriate. 

There are also warnings and side effects associated with the use of Wegovy. Anyone with a personal or family history of thyroid cancer should not use this medication. A complete patient history is recommended for persons who are considering this weight loss therapy. Also, persons may experience common side effects such as reflux, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and constipation while using this medication. Despite these minimal symptoms, patients are not deterred from continuing on Semaglutide and achieving the weight loss that they have been denied on other weight loss medications.

Does Ozempic work as a weight loss drug?

Semaglutide is the active ingredient in Ozempic, Rybelsus and Wegovy, however these drugs have different indications. Wegovy is the only formulation of the three indicated for chronic weight management. Ozempic and Rybelsus are indicated for treatment of type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, but when coupled with diet and exercise can also lead to weight loss in patients. 

Can we count on Semaglutide?

Hollywood heartthrobs often promote fad diets and unhealthy weight loss tips. And while we cannot confirm that semaglutide is being used appropriately among celebrities, studies have shown a reduction in weight when Semaglutide is used as indicated. 

If you are having difficulty losing weight and considering medication therapy, visit us at Integrated Family Medicine & Aesthetic Wellness. We will be with you every step of the way.


FDA approves new drug treatment for chronic weight management, first since 2014. News release. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. June 4, 2021. 

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