If you feel like you’ve tried everything and still aren’t losing weight, you may wonder if you should try medication. The Wegovy injection is all over the media, but is it truly the weight loss revolution it’s made out to be?
Some of my clients have asked me about Wegovy, otherwise known as Semaglutide. While it can help you lose weight, it’s not for everyone. It has side effects, and if you stop taking it you’ll likely regain some of the weight you lost.
Read on to learn what we do (and don’t) know about Wegovy. I’ll share how it works, expected weight loss, side effects, users’ experiences, and how it compares to Ozempic for weight loss.
What is Wegovy?
Wegovy is an injectable prescription weight-loss medication. It’s meant to supplement, not replace, exercise and a reduced-calorie diet to help you lose weight.
The FDA approved Wegovy for weight loss in June 2021. Since then, it’s been growing in popularity, and we’re seeing more and more promising clinical trials and personal stories.
Despite the hype, Wegovy is not designed for everyone. It’s meant for adults with either:
- A BMI ≥30
- A BMI ≥27 and at least one weight-related condition, like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes.
If you’re eligible and looking for a boost in your weight loss journey, you may want to ask your doctor if Wegovy could work for you. Just remember that while it can support weight loss, the best results will be achieved when you combine it with a healthy lifestyle.
How Do Wegovy Injections Work?
Wegovy mimics a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1. Your gut naturally makes this hormone after you eat to tell you you’re full. When you inject this hormone, you feel full with less food.
I have seen Wegovy’s effect on appetite firsthand. A few of my clients who take Wegovy say they have fewer cravings and are satisfied with smaller portions.
Wegovy is a once-a-week injection to your stomach, thigh, or upper arm on the same day every week. The prescription pens are single-use and come in a box of four for a 28-day supply.
Wegovy has five different dose strengths. You gradually increase your dose every four weeks until you reach the full dose of 2.4 mg. If you experience side effects, it’s recommended to work with your doctor to lower your dose.
This is the general progression to know what to expect:
- Month 1: 0.25 mg weekly injections
- Month 2: 0.5 mg weekly injections
- Month 3: 1 mg weekly injections
- Month 4: 1.7 mg weekly injections
- Months 5+: 2.4 mg weekly injections
The Wegovy cost without insurance is $1350 for a 28-day supply. With insurance, it can cost you as little as $0 a box. Wegovy is not covered by Medicare, but it is covered by some Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans. It also provides savings offers.
Wegovy Weight Loss Expected Results
As a registered dietitian and weight loss expert, I’ve been diving into the studies on Wegovy. The research is clear: Wegovy, when combined with lifestyle changes, helps you lose weight.
But sustainable weight loss on Wegovy takes time. You’ll need at least 5 months to reach the target dosage. The initial weight loss is the most dramatic, with about 12% weight loss around the 6-month mark. Then, the weight loss steadies. This is similar to non-medical weight loss strategies that take a more gradual, sustainable approach.
A large study found that weekly 2.4 mg Wegovy injections, combined with counseling and a low-calorie diet, led to a 15.8% weight loss over 68 weeks. At the two-year mark, there is an average weight loss of 15.2%.
It’s important to consider if Wegovy leads to fat loss vs. weight loss. While there is a loss of lean body mass (i.e. muscle) on Wegovy, there is an overall improvement in body composition.
Wegovy also leads to non-scale successes. Users have improvements in waist circumference and lab values including cholesterol and fasting glucose.
Based on the studies done so far, Wegovy leads to significant weight loss. But I’d like to see more long-term research to know if Wegovy helps with permanent weight loss.
Side Effects and Safety
Like any medication, Wegovy has a few common side effects. The most common mild side effects are:
- Gastrointestinal changes, the most reported being nausea and diarrhea. Some people also report vomiting, constipation, bloating, and stomach pain.
- Runny nose or sore throat
While rare, there is also the potential for more serious side effects. They’re rare, but there is concern that Wegovy increases the risk of pancreatitis, gallstones, kidney injury, and even thyroid cancer.
While Wegovy is meant to be taken long-term, it’s unknown if you have to be on it forever. When people stop taking it, they gradually regain the weight. After a year, there’s an average weight regain of two-thirds of the weight loss.
It’s important to remember that the clinical trials on Wegovy only lasted two years. The truth is, we don’t know about its long-term effects.
Wegovy Weight Loss Reviews
Wegovy weight loss reviews are mixed, with some praising the drug and others reporting bothersome side effects that led them to stop taking it. According to 179 reviews on Drugs.com, Wegovy has an average rating of 6.6 out of 10.
A 10/10 reviewer shared “[Wegovy] has turned off the 24/7 hunger switch in my brain. I feel “normal” around food for the first time in my life.” Another happy reviewer shared “It has been the solution to a lifetime of weight struggles!”
Some reviewers fell in the middle but ultimately decided the side effects were worth the results: “Yes I was nauseated at first, but the quick weight loss results made me want to continue.”
Unhappy reviewers said the weight loss was not worth the intense side effects: “The nausea is very real! Each month I thought it would get easier. [It] never does.”
Other unhappy reviewers voiced frustrations with Wegovy’s high cost: “I want to keep going but the coupon has run out, and now my out-of-pocket cost with insurance is around $900.”
Wegovy vs. Ozempic
Wegovy and Ozempic both have the same active ingredient: semaglutide. But these drugs aren’t interchangeable.
Wegovy is FDA-approved for weight loss. It has a higher dose of semaglutide than Ozempic. This higher dose leads to more weight loss than on Ozempic.
Ozempic is approved for type 2 diabetes, not for weight loss. At this time, weight loss is a side effect. But doctors still prescribe Ozempic for weight loss off-label.
Since Wegovy has a higher dose of semaglutide, side effects may be more likely on Wegovy. Your insurance may also cover these drugs differently depending on your medical history and weight.
For a more in-depth comparison of these two medications, check out my comparison post of Ozempic vs. Wegovy.
Wegovy for weight loss is promising, but it doesn’t come without risks and side effects. And it isn’t a quick fix – it is a long-term treatment for people above certain BMI thresholds.
Like any drug, when you stop taking Wegovy, it stops working. You risk your cravings coming back with a vengeance and gaining a lot of weight back very quickly. It’s essential to speak to your doctor about your options.
When looking at the big picture, I always tell my clients that any drug should serve as a supplement, but should not replace a healthy diet and exercise routine. Whether you try the Wegovy prescription for weight loss or not, you still need to consistently practice healthy habits for long-term success.
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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace personalized medical guidance.
Great write up!
Thank you Toni, I’m glad it was helpful!