If you’ve been on the internet recently, you’ve almost certainly encountered advertisements for some sort of miracle weight loss technique. If your social media profile identifies you as female, this has probably happened within the last hour.
“Tips and Tricks for a Healthy Belly,” “Five Foods to Avoid if You Like Watermelon,” and other clickbait titles have been around long before the internet, and they certainly haven’t declined in popularity since.
However, something new is making waves.
Back in 2021, the FDA approved Wegovy, which uses the active ingredient semaglutide for weight loss in the U.S. market. Initially, this development didn't gain much attention, as many people who have tried weight management schemes have become jaded by new products claiming to perform miracles.
However, over the last couple of years, Wegovy and other semaglutide injections have gained increasing visibility. Celebrities such as Elon Musk, Rosie O'Donnell, and Amy Schumer have all admitted to using injectable weight loss drugs, with varying results. So, what are semaglutide injections, and do they work?
What Is Semaglutide?
Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus are all brand names for semaglutide, a medication designed to alter your body’s chemistry to reduce appetite and support weight loss. Originally, semaglutide was developed to treat Type 2 diabetes. Semaglutide increases insulin secretion inside the body, so some people with diabetes don’t need to take as much (or any) insulin to manage their blood sugar.
Semaglutide was first released onto the market in pill form under the brand name Rybelsus and was joined a couple of years later by the injectable form Ozempic.
Over time, it became clear that semaglutide also assisted weight loss. The medication mimics the chemical signal your body naturally makes when you have a full stomach, tricking your body into thinking your stomach is full even when you haven’t eaten.
For people who struggle to sate their appetite, this can assist them in managing portion size and frequency. Most importantly, it stops the constant reoccurring thoughts of food, which many people deal with daily.
Ozempic began being prescribed off-label as a weight loss drug. In 2021, a stronger dosage of injectable semaglutide was released onto the market with FDA approval under the name Wegovy. Wegovy is specifically prescribed to aid weight loss and has scientifically proven studies demonstrating its effectiveness. The dosage may be higher, but the effect is the same: Wegovy increases insulin secretion and stops you from feeling hungry.
Who Is Taking Semaglutide?
Semaglutide is, first and foremost, a drug developed to treat diabetes, a life-threatening condition that requires constant management. Ozempic is still regularly prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes and is essential for the day-to-day life of many people. The sudden increase in off-label prescriptions caused a global shortage in 2022 and 2023, preventing some people with diabetes from accessing their usual dosage.
However, obesity also significantly impacts day-to-day health. For those needing to lose weight in order to live a happy and healthy life, semaglutide can seem to be almost as essential as it is for those taking it for diabetes.
There are several conflicting opinions on this subject. Still, it’s clear that semaglutide is being prescribed more commonly to those looking to manage their weight, and the increase in prescriptions is only expected to continue.
Lastly, some are not diabetic or obese but still take various forms of semaglutide to lose or maintain weight. The significant side effects and potential dangers prevent many from viewing this as a quick and easy weight loss treatment.
However, with a high occurrence of rebound weight gain upon stopping semaglutide treatment, some who use Wegovy can’t stop treatment without undoing their weight loss.
How Do You Take Semaglutide?
Although it is possible to buy similar compounds online, the only safe way to obtain semaglutide is through a healthcare provider, who can perform tests beforehand to ensure you aren’t at risk of dangerous side effects. Semaglutide can have life-threatening, or even fatal, effects if taken by people with certain health conditions, so it’s absolutely essential to consult a healthcare provider before treatment begins.
When considering semaglutide as a possible treatment option, your first stop should be a healthcare professional familiar with the drug’s benefits and risks. At Third Avenue, they have a number of board-certified specialists who take the time to learn about your personal health before prescribing any treatment, helping you avoid wasted time and money. Their experience also enables them to know exactly which tests to perform to rule out the most severe interactions known to occur with semaglutide.
When semaglutide is prescribed for weight loss or to assist with blood sugar management, it is taken as a weekly injection. The injection needle is hidden in a plastic casing and only needs to be pressed against the skin and triggered. The injection is given in the arm, thigh, or belly. It is very similar to current single-use insulin pens but needs to be taken less often.
However, needles aren’t for everyone. Aside from potential phobias, injectable semaglutide can cause pain, itching, redness, and swelling around the injection site. An experienced healthcare professional can help create a treatment plan that suits the individual, including changing to Rybelsus, the oral form of semaglutide if needed.
Rybelsus needs to be taken every day, at the same time, without food and with a minimum amount of water. Because of this, it isn’t as popular as the injectable form, which only has to be done on the same day each week and can be taken with or without food.
How Do You Buy Semaglutide?
Third Avenue Semaglutide – Editor’s Choice & Most Effective
Third Avenue stands out from other healthcare providers by offering convenient, discreet, and personalized health plans. Their mission is to make healthcare options available everywhere, for everyone. By providing telehealth consultations for sensitive topics such as weight management, hair loss, and sexual health, Third Avenue allows you to discover your options from the comfort of your own home.
One of the things we like about Third Avenue is that they understand you don’t have to be embarrassed about your healthcare to want to keep things discreet. Discussing some topics can be difficult, especially when you've been keeping them to yourself for years. The welcoming yet distanced atmosphere of their telehealth consultations makes it easier to explain your situation and explore potential solutions.
Telehealth is bringing healthcare to the homes of millions of patients, allowing them to receive treatments they otherwise would not be able to access. The travel-free nature of telehealth allows you to make appointments with the best doctor for your needs, not the closest.
Not having to travel back and forth to a clinic also makes it much easier to keep up regular communication, as you don’t need to set aside part of your day for travel. It can be exhausting to visit your healthcare provider, and Third Avenue's service makes it much easier to keep on top of evolving situations. As you read on, you’ll see that this can be essential when someone starts treatment with semaglutide.
Before and After
And now to the question on everyone’s mind: Does it work? Here are some before and after pictures of those who have found semaglutide helpful in managing their weight.
This patient lost 30 pounds after nearly 16 months of treatment with Wegovy and is one of the more successful examples of the phase three trial. She has type 2 diabetes, which also responded well to treatment with Wegovy.
This woman lost 30% of her body weight after one year of treatment with Ozempic, combined with significant changes in diet and exercise. She expects to take Ozempic or a similar weight loss drug for the next few years to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight when she achieves her goal.
When describing Wegovy after ten months of treatment, this man claims: “For me, that stuff is the essence of anorexia. The form I take is a weekly injection. The drug has totally ruined my appetite, and when I do eat, I feel full really quickly.” He goes on to add, “On the downside, there can be some pretty severe side effects — all sorts of gastro problems that I still experience, general feelings of unwellness mainly the day after injections.”
Before and after pictures can often be misleading, as the most impressive results are more likely to be noticed. The pictures above show people who have lost 10 to 30 percent of their starting weight. However, clinical trials show an average loss of only 10 percent of starting body weight after six months on Wegovy. This means the majority of people will not see effects like those above.
After three months, this patient lost 16.2 pounds or 10% of her body weight. This is a good representation of the average weight loss achieved with Wegovy and requires a combination of semaglutide, exercise, and dietary changes. The patient plans to continue to use semaglutide to maintain weight loss.
The effectiveness of semaglutide treatment is also strongly dependent on how much excess weight the patient carries before treatment begins and whether they make additional lifestyle changes, such as an increase in daily activity. This is why it’s important to speak with an expert in the field before making any assumptions about how effective semaglutide will be for you. At Third Avenue, you can talk with a board-certified weight loss expert to discuss a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle and achievable expectations.
Semaglutide Weight Loss Reviews
The semaglutide before and after photos you see don’t include the estimated 10% of people who have to stop taking semaglutide entirely due to side effects. These can range from mild to severe and can make taking semaglutide a very unpleasant experience.
Most people can expect to experience dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, fatigue, and pain around the injection site. These are all common side effects, not rare, as 64% of patients reported “adverse gastrointestinal events” during their 68-week treatment, compared to 34% of the placebo group. In some cases, semaglutide causes weight loss by simply making the patient feel too ill to eat, which isn’t healthy or effective long term.
Many negative semaglutide weight loss reviews state nausea and a failure to achieve results as reasons they do not recommend using semaglutide as a weight management treatment.
“I was prescribed this for weight loss. Day 1 & 2 I was fine, then on day 3, I started throwing up constantly all day; for the next 12 days straight, everything I ate came back up. [...] in the last 6 days, I have thrown up four times. I’m hoping it stops at some point. I have lost 10lbs.”
Others experience severe nausea or vomiting but are determined to continue.
“The med made me feel very sick, cramping, nauseous, bloated, and an overall unwell feeling, but I was determined to stick with [semaglutide] in order to lose the weight. I had very minimal weight loss.”
Many responses to the negative reviews claim that gastrointestinal upsets only occur if users do not adjust their diet appropriately. This review describes the initial issues encountered by one patient.
"I’ve been on Ozempic for 4 weeks. I am so glad that my doctor sat me down and told me what to expect. She said that if you can make it through the 4th week, I promise it will get better. She was right. I was pretty sick the first two weeks.”
However, after learning to adjust to their new diet, things improved significantly:
“I learned that it had a lot to do with me trying to eat my normal intake of food. Once I started to catch a clue and make my portions smaller, I learned it would make me feel better. People aren’t kidding about the side effects. It’s real. But I made it and am now starting to feel better with each day. I’ve lost 18 pounds now, and I’m amazed."
So, for some users, it’s simply a matter of adjusting to the new way in which their body works. While on semaglutide, it's literally impossible to eat the way you normally would, and trying to force your body to continue the same way will only lead to serious negative feedback.
Unfortunately, while that may be the experience for some users, the problem is more complicated for others. Instead of working through symptoms to a comfortable equilibrium, the negative side effects only worsen with time for some.
“For the first two months, the change was absolutely un-freaking-believable. I would sit down to a meal, eat some, and actually FEEL FULL. I was able to easily stop eating with portions of food on my plate and feel completely satisfied. In those first two months, I dropped 15lbs.
After starting the 0.5mg/week dose, this is where it all went downhill fast. The side effects came on hard, fast, and strong. If I ate more than, say, half a sandwich at a meal, I would become so overwhelmingly bloated that I was constantly burping [...] there were three times in a two-week period that I became so bloated that it made me vomit; a lot. As if those side effects weren't bad enough, it also gave me horrible, uncontrollable diarrhea that met the clinical definition of 'severe.'"
Some of the most graphic details of the experience from the review above have been edited out, which I’m sure readers can imagine but probably don’t want to. Even without the additional details, it’s clear that the body can stop tolerating semaglutide over time. While this doesn’t seem to be a common occurrence, the patient was forced to discontinue semaglutide treatment in this case.
However, semaglutide can also cause more severe reactions than an upset stomach.
“I had a severe allergic reaction to this medication. I took it once weekly. It didn’t start until the 4th dose. It was the 6th dose when we realized the medication Ozempic was causing the reaction. I had large weeping lesions all over my face and a few on my back and arms. They resembled ringworm in size and were perfect circles. I had to go on steroids to treat it for 2 weeks.”
Other serious side effects can include pancreatitis, gallstones, kidney failure, and suicidal thoughts. The instructions provided by Novo Nordisk also contain a worrying statement regarding the carcinogenic effects of Wegovy: "In studies with rodents, Wegovy® and medicines that work like Wegovy® caused thyroid tumors, including thyroid cancer. It is not known if Wegovy® will cause thyroid tumors or a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) in people."
Alongside the common unpleasant side effects, dangerous and rare side effects, and possible cancer risk, users of semaglutide are also taking a big step into the unknown. Interactions between medications, long-term effects on mental health, and potential effects on reproductive ability are all unknown simply because the medication has not been in use for enough time for long term effects to become obvious.
However, for those who have struggled their entire lives with regulating their food intake, semaglutide is often considered worth the risk both for the physical and mental relief the weight loss can bring.
“My lack of interest in food is liberating! For the first time in 30 years, I don't go to bed kicking myself for what I've eaten or making promises to myself to make amends for overeating. Zero sugar cravings...food isn't a reward or pleasure anymore. I'm never ravenous, so I make good, calm choices about what I eat. This has been life-changing and a complete shift in perspective.”
Taking all semaglutide weight loss reviews into account, it’s clear that semaglutide can be a life saver, a useful addition to weight management, or a personal trip to hell. If you’re looking for quotes to support your existing point of view, you’ll find them easily. Reviews detailing extreme side effects, reviews lamenting no weight loss, reviews celebrating dozens of pounds of weight loss, reviews claiming semaglutide changed their lives, and reviews claiming it ruined their lives can all be found. In the end, it turns out that the effects of semaglutide are extremely unpredictable.
Why Does Semaglutide Only Work for Some People?
The unpredictability of semaglutide largely comes down to the way it works. Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, which means absolutely nothing to most people.
It’s not necessary to know what a glucagon–like peptide is in order to understand how semaglutide works, so it’s often shortened to GLP-1. The important part is that it’s a chemical your body naturally makes when your stomach is full and you need to stop eating. When GLP-1 is made, it attaches to a certain receptor, letting your body know it’s there and your stomach is full. It’s like checking to see if someone has parked their car in the garage to determine if they have arrived yet.
Semaglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist. A receptor agonist is a chemical that attaches to these spaces, even if it’s not supposed to. Semaglutide is the same shape as GLP-1, so it parks in the same space.
Different people have different numbers of spaces for GLP-1 to attach or different amounts of GLP-1 naturally present in their body. If you already naturally make plenty of GLP-1, all the parking spaces are full, and adding semaglutide to the mix will cause a traffic jam. In practice, this tells your body your stomach is overfull, and you might need to take some drastic action. If you can recall the unpleasant sensation of having eaten too much and needing to lie down until you feel better, you know what it feels like to take semaglutide.
The idea is to have just enough semaglutide in your system so that any naturally produced GLP-1 only fills up the rest of the available parking spaces without causing any traffic jams. Finding that exact dose can be tricky, and it’s easy to overshoot. As semaglutide is still relatively new to the market, many doctors are learning the right dose for each individual by trial and error.
Some people already naturally produce the maximum amount of GLP-1 without causing discomfort. If they take semaglutide, no matter how little they take, their body will always feel horrendously overfull. In this case, semaglutide works by making them feel too ill to eat, which isn’t healthy.
The best way to avoid this is to work with a healthcare professional who already has experience with semaglutide and can make an informed guess about the right dosage of semaglutide for you. Choosing a healthcare provider with ongoing support plans allows you to start on a low dose and work your way up under the guidance of a specialist, hopefully avoiding the worst gastrointestinal symptoms semaglutide can cause.
Is Semaglutide Right for Me?
After learning about potential side effects, variations in results, and potential rebound weight gain, you can see why speaking to a practitioner with specific experience in weight loss treatments is essential. Telehealth providers like Third Avenue are important because not only do they design a weight management plan with you, taking your unique physiology and lifestyle into account, but they also continue to provide ongoing support after the initial treatment plan has been made.
Choosing an online service like Third Avenue can often help, as finding the time to travel to and from appointments can be difficult. The flexible nature of online consulting allows you to keep in contact with your clinician and adjust the current regime as necessary by changing doses, exercise patterns, diet, or other variables.
You may find that a particular diet doesn’t work well with the changes in your digestive system that semaglutide can cause, and you need to change to a new diet that takes this into account. Struggling through weeks of nausea before finding the right solution can be avoided by choosing healthcare professionals already familiar with the common pitfalls of taking semaglutide.
After successful weight loss, the journey isn’t over yet. Semaglutide isn’t an instant cure-all, and any weight management procedure must have a long-term plan in place to prevent rebound weight gain.
Although the use of semaglutide to assist weight loss is relatively new, studies are clear that without long-term change, once you stop taking semaglutide, you are likely to regain some, if not all, of the weight you have lost. Even after a year-long weight management plan using semaglutide, patients regained, on average, about two-thirds of the weight they had lost within a year of ending semaglutide use.
Semaglutide works to assist in weight loss, not to permanently change your weight. While it may suppress issues such as cravings and binge eating while on the medication, you will still need to learn how to make the necessary lifestyle changes and adjust your mindset to handle the return of these issues after you stop semaglutide. This is why it’s important to keep a regular relationship with your dietician throughout not just the course of semaglutide but also in the following years.
Semaglutide is changing many people's lives for the better, but it isn’t a miracle cure. To achieve the best weight loss results possible, we recommend getting in touch with the experts at Third Avenue to discuss creating your tailor-made, long-term weight loss plan.
The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. It is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. You should always consult with your doctor or a licensed healthcare provider before taking any medication or making decisions regarding your health.
Medications discussed herein are prescription medications, and it should only be used under the guidance and supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. You should not use prescription medications without a valid prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.
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Semaglutide is the base molecule found in the trademarked Ozempic, a product owned by Novo Nordisk. Medications sold on affiliate sites include products that are not ozempic, but are compounded in accordance with FDA guidelines. When Ozempic is referenced, it is referring to the genuine ozempic product, and is noted that this trademark belongs to Novo Nordisk.