Weight Loss Medication | Ozempic | Saxenda | Wegovy

Weight Loss Medication

There are new weight loss medications now available to support weight loss.

They work by mimicking a natural fullness hormone called GLP-1, which is produced by the gut after eating. These hormones signal to the brain that you are full, and indicate that we should stop eating. 

Levels of our natural fullness hormones fall quickly after being released, which is why we often feel hungry again shortly after eating. 

By contrast, the new obesity medication creates a more enduring signal to the brain, and therefore prolongs the feeling of fullness.

This means a person taking this medication will feel full for longer and be satisfied with a smaller amount of food. There is also evidence that these medications can reduce cravings. 

The weight loss medication also slows the transit of food in your digestive system,  which in turn allows the food you have eaten to stay in your stomach for longer. This contributes to a reduction in hunger levels and increased levels of satiety.

This reduced desire to eat food, when supported with a healthy eating regime and regular exercise, can help you lose weight over time. 

While it is still recommended to make nutritional and lifestyle changes to support weight loss, medication such as Ozempic, Wegovy and Saxenda can help to make the process more sustainable.

Nese Targen, Specialist Bariatric Dietitian, explains how weight loss medication can be a useful tool to support long-term weight loss.

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Safety of Weight Loss Medication in a Specialised MDT

Weight loss medications such as Ozempic, Wegovy and Saxenda are safe and effective drugs for most adults that need them. 

However, these medications are not the right treatment for everybody looking to address their weight, and there are important reasons why some people should not take these drugs. 

In addition, while these medications are usually well tolerated, some people experience gastro-intestinal side effects such as nausea.

For these reasons, it is important that use of these medications is overseen by a specialist Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). 

At Surgical WeightMatters, we assess your medical history to ensure that these medications will be a safe and effective choice for you. 

After an initial metabolic assessment with our endocrinologist, Dr Saira Hameed, you will meet with our nutrition team for regular monitoring and support.

The team will guide and coach you to maximise the benefits from using weight loss medication safely, in combination with dietary and lifestyle changes. 

Injectable Weight Loss Medications

Ozempic and Wegovy are weekly injections, while Saxenda is a daily injection. You will be taught how to safely self-administer the injection to yourself. 

As these medications are drug mimics of a naturally occurring gut fullness hormone, the side effects of these medications, if experienced, are usually gastro-intestinal, for example nausea, diarrhoea or constipation. 

All of these medications are started at a low dose with slow dose up-titration which is very helpful for mitigation of side effects. 

Well-conducted clinical research trials of these medications have shown them to be safe and effective with an average weight loss between 5 to 15% of starting body weight, depending on the individual and the medication used. 

Trials have also shown that when the medication is stopped, many people will regain the weight that they have lost. It is therefore important to view starting one of these weight-loss medications as a long-term commitment. 

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Speak with our friendly patient concierge team, and let us answer any questions you have about weight loss surgery.

Ozempic®

Ozempic® (semaglutide) is an injectable prescription medication. It is used alongside dietary and lifestyle changes to help improve blood sugar levels in adults with Type 2 diabetes, support weight loss in individuals living with obesity, and to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as a heart attack. 

Who is Ozempic® used for?

Ozempic® is primarily used for individuals with diabetes as well as individuals with obesity that are unable to lose weight through diet and lifestyle changes alone. Ozempic® is not for use in people with Type 1 diabetes. 

High Blood Pressure

Excess weight is a key risk factor for high blood pressure.

Unhealthy lifestyle choices, a lack of physical activity and being overweight are all factors that contribute to high blood pressure.

Ordinarily, arteries are stretchy so they can cope with your blood pressure going up and down. Health complications arise when fatty material builds up in your arteries, narrowing them, thus increasing your blood pressure.

Our dietitians will work with you to support dietary intervention that balances different food groups, and moderate your intake of foods that are higher in fat or sugar. 

They will help you to consume foods in the right proportion, creating a diet that is nutrient dense, without being high in calories.

How long does it take for Ozempic® to start working?

This can be dependent on many different factors, such as the reason you are taking Ozempic®, such as Type 2 Diabetes treatment or solely for weight loss. 

Another factor is the dosage that you are prescribed, and the frequency that you take the medication. The initial 8 weeks begin at a lower dose of the active ingredient to allow your body to adjust. From week 9 onwards you will likely be taking the full dose. In general, it is advised that by week 12 of being at a therapeutic dose (20 weeks from starting), you should have lost at least 5% of your starting weight.

Does Ozempic® suppress appetite?

Yes, Ozempic® can help to suppress your appetite by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone (hunger hormone) which plays an important role in appetite regulation, and helps you to feel fuller for longer. 

How much weight can you lose on Ozempic®?

Everyone is individual and therefore has different genetics, varying underlying health conditions, as well as different lifestyles and diets. Therefore, there is likely to be a difference in how much weight each individual can lose. However weight loss can range between 5 – 10% of your starting weight when using Ozempic®.

How do you take Ozempic®?

Ozempic® is taken once a week, as prescribed by your healthcare provider. The starting dose is 0.25mg, typically taken for the first 4 weeks to allow your body to adjust to the medication. While the maximum dose is 2mg a week.

Saxenda®

Saxenda® (liraglutide) is an injectable prescription medication. It is available for overweight adults (BMI over 27, who also have weight-related medical problems) or obese individuals (BMI over 30). 

It is important to use Saxenda alongside dietary and lifestyle changes to help support weight loss in obese individuals, reduce risk of developing type 2 diabetes in patients with pre-diabetes, and help reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as a heart attack. 

Who can use Saxenda®?

Saxenda® is primarily used for individuals with pre-diabetes as well as individuals living with obesity that are unable to lose weight through diet and lifestyle changes alone.

How can I be prescribed Saxenda®?

Our Endocrinologist can assess your metabolic health, and if suitable, you may be prescribed Saxenda®. It is also available through the NHS in tier 3 weight management services. To be prescribed Saxenda® you will need to be referred to a multi-disciplinary team who will assess your weight and health history. 

How long can I take Saxenda®?

The length of time you can take Saxenda® depends on a variety of factors, such as the initial reason for taking it, and achieving your health goals, such as a healthy BMI. 

The length of time you take Saxenda® will be individual to each person, and will be decided with your  multi-disciplinary team. Therefore the time frame could vary from a few months to a couple of years. 

There are no long-term negative effects of Liraglutide reported, therefore, you should be able to stay on it for as long as you need to.  

How much weight can I lose on Saxenda®?

Everyone is individual – people have different genetics, varying underlying health conditions,  as well as different lifestyles and diets. Therefore, the amount of weight that can be lost varies depending on the individual. However, research suggests that people who use Liraglutide for weight loss can lose around 5% of their body weight within 12 weeks of taking the treatment (not including the titration period). 

Is Saxenda® safe?

There are no long-term negative effects of Saxenda® reported. However, some individuals may experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and/or constipation. These symptoms typically  subside within the first few weeks.