Ozempic and similar medications have been the celebrity weight loss open secret for months now. Celebs don’t really admit to being on a diabetes drug for vanity reasons, but some apparently go on it by accident and others say they don’t use it at all. And more stories are coming out about the side effects. There’s “Ozempic face,” which is the sunken, gaunt look from rapid and unnecessary weight loss. And now doctors are warning of its capacity for rebound weight gain after stopping injections.
While Ozempic and Wegovy are creating a lot of buzz as weight loss aids, doctors and patients are also discussing the “rebound weight gain” that can occur if the medication is stopped.
Ozempic — prescription medication for type 2 diabetes — and Wegovy — prescription medication for clinical obesity — are brand names for semaglutide, which works in the brain to impact satiety. Taken once a week by injection in the thigh, stomach or arm, the medications have recently been trending on social media and in Hollywood circles as some people have used it for weight loss, even though they don’t have diabetes or clinical obesity.
A study in the Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that a majority of people who take semaglutide gain most of the weight back within a year of stopping the medication, which can be difficult to control.
“We’re seeing a lot of patients have this rebound weight gain, and it can really be devastating,” Dr. Karla Robinson, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based family physician, told NPR.
Ania Jastreboff, M.D., PhD., an obesity medicine physician scientist at Yale University, tells PEOPLE that for those who use drugs like Wegovy or Ozempic, they have to continue taking the medications if they want to maintain the weight loss because diabetes and obesity are chronic conditions.
“[Expecting a patient with chronic obesity to lose weight through willpower] is akin to having a patient with diabetes and thinking that they can concentrate really hard to bring their blood sugars down,” Jastreboff continued. “You can’t do that, and with obesity, our patients can’t use their prefrontal cortex for the rest of their lives to impact every morsel of food that they eat. So, it’s not in our control. Once that set point is elevated, you need treatment.”
Content creator and model Remi Bader recently shared her own experience with Ozempic and how her weight rebounded after stopping the drug. She said her doctor prescribed her the medication in 2020 because she was pre-diabetic, insulin resistant and gaining weight.
However, Bader said on an episode of the Not Skinny But Not Fat podcast that it wasn’t the best treatment for her as it eventually worsened her binge eating, which she’s struggled with for years. She explained that although she was able to lose weight from the medication, when she stopped taking it her binge eating immediately returned.
“I saw a doctor and they were like, it’s 100% because I went on Ozempic,” Bader continued. “It was making me think I wasn’t hungry for so long, I lost some weight. I didn’t wanna be obsessed with being on it long term. I was like, I bet the second I got off I’m gonna get starving again. I did, and my binging got so much worse. So then I kind of blamed Ozempic.”
I’d seen the comments from Remi Bader about her rebound weight gain after taking Ozempic before I learned what Ozempic was. And I saw something from another content creator (whose name/handle escapes me) who openly discussed taking Ozempic and shared that she still ate while on it, but tiny, toddler-sized portions because she simply wasn’t hungry. So it makes sense that anyone who takes it and then stops will return to their normal, pre-medication appetite levels. It sounds like how when I’m not feeling well I’m not that hungry, but when I feel better I’m so hungry as if I’m making up for the past few days of diminished appetite. It makes sense that people would need to keep taking these different injections for maintenance if they have chronic conditions, but in my opinion the side effects don’t seem worth it if you’re just looking to lose 15 pounds or so. It’s like crash dieting to fit into a certain outfit, it works, but you gain the weight back once you start to eat normally again. Not to advocate for crash dieting, but it sounds like a better option than celebs getting medically unnecessary injections to lose a few pounds.
Photo note by CB: As mentioned above Remi Bader is an influencer who has been open about her post-Ozempic weight gain. Chelsea Handler has claimed not to know that her doctor was giving her Ozempic injections.
I don’t for once second believe Chelsea did not know she was taking Ozempic. Don’t 👏🏼 Believe 👏🏼 Her 👏🏼
It has to be injected once a week, so unless she was visiting this doctor 4 times a month, she was injecting it at home. How do you inject yourself without knowing what it is? I can believe she didn’t know it was meant for Type 2 diabetics, but she knew she was on it, and she had to know it was for weight-loss.
I’m a Type 1 Diabetic. I’m very comfortable with pokes and injections, but I would never shoot a random drug. JFC.
I tend to believe that these celebs are not injecting themselves. They are either visiting their doctor or a nurse is Coming to their house
It is actually self-administered. No way she didn’t know.
I’m not going to call Chelsea Handler a liar—-but I don’t believe she’s telling the truth. This is the same person who in a stand-up special tried to convince the audience that she was unaware for decades that the Sun and Moon were not the same…Girl, bye
Every prescription comes with a patient pamphlet that goes over the medication. She’s as adult and should be able to read.
Not to mention the issue that celebrities and others taking it for vanity reasons to lose 10-15 lbs is causing a severe shortage. Diabetics who NEED the medication to control their blood sugar levels are having to go months without it because it’s being prescribed off label for weight loss and pharmacies can’t keep up with demand.
This is what angers me the most. I have a dear friend who is diabetic, as well as a sister as it runs in our family but the fact that these celebrities are using instead of doing the work to shed pounds is revolting. And why are physicians pushing this drug??? Money, power and ability to schmooze with celebrities??
The physicians must be reported to the state Medical Board and the celebrities should get to the f#cking gym like everyone else.
Ozempic is a fairly new mes for DM 2 so if the pharmacy is out if stock then MD should be able to switch them to another diabetic med. DM 2 is a lifestyle disease and with proper diet and exercise one should be able to control it when you get diagnosed with pre diabetes. Not all cases but many.
I hope people reading this who feel they may need this drug talk to their doctor instead being influenced by all this conversation. I am so sad to see it trashed by so many people and the judgement around it. People who have not even taken it or researched it are giving their uninformed opinion on it. Wegovy and Ozempic are FDA approved drugs that a patient and doctor can decide together if it is best for that individual. Full stop.
I’m with you on this – people just trashing this very important medication without knowing much about it. Lots of medications are used off-label for other medical conditions. I have PCOS, literally every medication given to control PCOS is used off label – including Ozempic! I’m on Ozempic, used off-label to help with my PCOS-related insulin resistance and to help manage my weight (I also work with an dietician). Overweight and obesity are complex medical conditions and need medicines for long term management – and frankly I’m getting annoyed with all the hate and ignorance being levelled against people using it from people who know nothing.
Exactly! There is nothing illegal or unethical about a doctor prescribing something off label. It’s likely/often good medicine. And if there is a doctor doing something unethical that really doesn’t have to do with the medication itself. Thanks for chiming in, appreciate it, and you are so right on all points.
I’m in the same boat as you. I was on metformin for years to prevent me from becoming diabetic. I’m on Ozempic now. I will be on glucose control for the rest of my life. If the GLP agonist class of drugs had never been created, I would still be on metformin, but I would weigh more and my blood sugar would still be less well controlled.
Also, these drugs, whether prescribed for diabetes, weight loss, or insulin resistance, are meant to be used adjunct to lifestyle change including better eating habits and more exercise. There is no magic bullet. But these drugs correct the metabolic imbalances that make those other two interventions less effective. I’m so grateful for it. But when I see someone using it to lose another 10 lbs so they can be more competitive in marathons, I question their life choices.
Definitely seems like the “hate” is being levelled at people using it purely for vanity. Like, I’m fat, and I could probably get a doctor to give me this drug without any effort on my part, but… I’m not insulin-resistant. I’m not gaining weight. I have no medical problems related to my weight. And my taking this drug would be morally and ethically wrong because I’d be depriving diabetics and insulin-resistant patients from the drug they need for their health.
You’re correct some drugs have many off-label uses. I would not use a drug off label just to lose a few pounds. That’s crazy.
Also, Ozempic is marketed as a weight loss drug and approved for this under a different name. It can be use for weight loss but is intended for extremely overweight people in the non diabetes context. Like you are supposed to have at least 50 pounds to loose…
Same. My doctor has always told me that any weight loss/management medication would be a continuous treatment similar to the way you don’t stop treating people for depression once their medication starts working. She started me very slow and I’m still on a considerably low dose because it’s working and I’m not using it to try and drop weight overnight. The other important thing not being discussed is that you really need to be working out while taking it. If not, there is a good chance that part of the weight that is being lost is lean tissue like muscle mass. This is even worse if you drop quickly instead of slow and steady. Losing muscle can in turn lower metabolism and cause a host of other problems.
The focus seems to be on people using it to lose a few pounds, like Handler, people who have no clinical need to use the drug. When celebs get involved you’re talking about people who want a drug to keep them basically underweight or at the lowest bmi possible. That strikes me as irresponsible, especially when people who are diabetic and quite overweight can’t get what they need.
@ Josephine, that is where my hate is pointed towards, not the drug itself. What happens when celebrities take this drug, or any other drug, that has its intended purposes for diabetes or another health reason drives up demand and shortens the supply for those who actually need it for life saving measures. I don’t hate the drug, I hate that celebrities are using it solely for the purpose of losing a few pounds.
I don’t think people are trashing others using it for a medical need, including weight loss. They are outraged that it’s being used to lose 5 vanity pounds or become model thin.
Who’s trashing the drug? I think it’s safe to say that we all know that drugs are usually developed for health issues and they can be absolute life savers for those illnesses or serious issues. But they come with side effects. Always, no exception. So a doctor will examine you and decide – maybe together with the patient – whether the issue is severe enough to risk the side effects. That is how it works. In this case, it seems people who will see absolutely no health benefits are risking side effects and a drug shortage for vanity. It’s a terrible idea and every physician who cares a tiny bit about ethics will tell you as much. That’s not an uninformed opinion.
“In this case, it seems people who will see absolutely no health benefits are risking side effects and a drug shortage for vanity. “
I don’t have nothing against the drug itself.
But everything against perfectly healthy people who take unnecessary drugs out of vanity.
Agreed, I mean what happened to a women’s body is a women’s choice? No woman should have to justify the health decisions she makes for herself with her physician. We don’t know another’s mental or physical health struggles and they don’t need to justify their choices to us.
So…exactly what happens when you stop all other forms of restrictive dieting and/or non-surgical weight loss methods? Shocking.
Thank you!!!! I’m a doctor, and although I do not prescribe it, (I do interventional pain), I often send patients to other doctors who prescribe it. It is a wonderful drug and improves so many patients’ lives. Of course if you stop taking it the weight returns. Similarly if you stop taking your blood pressure medication your hypertension returns, if you stop taking your statin your hyper lipids is returns, etc. I do not understand celebitchy’s obsession with stigmatizing this medication. I guess the only reservations I have about it is for someone with a normal weight and health status taking it for vanity reasons. That of course is silly.
I’d love to lose 20 pounds but there is no way I’d commit to a lifetime of weekly shots to do it, especially when the drugs are relatively new and we don’t know the long term effects. I’m healthy with great blood work so it would be for vanity only. Plus I don’t think the volume of what I eat is too much. It is more that I like to eat high calorie foods and I’m not sure those drugs would make me choose different foods. I put a scoop of Haagen Daz dulce de leche in my coffee every morning. I eat bread, pasta, cheese, or sweets when I want. I could make an effort to make lower calorie choices but I enjoy my life and I don’t think being a little skinnier would make me happier than my morning ice cream coffee. I can see it for someone who has obesity related health issues, for them a lifetime of injections could be worth it.
If you need to lose 15 pounds then you should be on Ozempic for just a month. After you lose the weight then you have to commit to eating right.
Plus the thing they don’t tell you is that if you tell your body that you’re not going to feed it regularly and reliably, it believes you and tries to save itself by giving you a ravenous appetite when the opportunity presents itself – but it also can destroy your fertility. Your body is less likely to allow you to get pregnant when it thinks you’re not going to feed yourself or the baby taking up extra nutrients. I had no appetite for years because of depression and unknowingly trashed my metabolism – it barely functions now, and it took a lot of help and 7 years to get pregnant. I’m chunkyish now but I had to learn to let that go and just feed my body good things when it asked for it. It’s such a punitive way to see the only body you get in this lifetime.
the issue with this drug is that it really should be reserved for individuals with obesity THAT HAVE ALREADY tried extensively for at least 6 months to lose weight and then considered for off-label use. There is no reason for anyone who is not obese to be on this medication to “lose a couple” of pounds. And even those with obesity need to sit down with their doctors and weigh the pros/cons. This isn’t a miracle drug by any means, and the long term SE of being on this medication is just not well studied in the non-Diabetic population. What happens when you lose the weight, do we stop it? how long is long enough on it? what happens if you start gaining weight after being on it? Weight loss is a complex lifestyle change and a medication like this is a great tool for those to start the journey, but never should be used as a solo regimen to continue.
I’ve been on Ozempic for about six months now to treat pre-diabetes. It’s been hugely helpful for my blood sugar *and* I’ve lost 30 pounds already (I need to lose 80 total). It’s also taken away my usual desire to binge eat, which has been a millstone around my neck my entire adult life. But, having been on several diets that worked but I couldn’t keep the pounds off, I wouldn’t have started on the Ozempic without planning to stay on it indefinitely (and that’s what’s recommended when taking it for blood sugar etc.). I know someone who’s paying out of pocket for it – over $12K a year, I think! – with the thought that she’ll take off the extra weight and then stop – but all signs point to people just piling the weight back on as soon as they stop the drug. I don’t think all doctors are being thorough about educating their patients that this drug is *not* meant to be taken temporarily.
I’d like to lose weight without doing all the work because it can get overwhelming sometimes. But those faces are an absolute turn-off. Hideous.
There must be side effects to taking a med you don’t require, IMO.
I’ve got enough to worry about, I would not chance it.
Plus, causing a shortage to people who do need is a terrible.
So a few months ago my MIL came to me and told me not to worry about weight loss after pregnancy, because her coworker had told her about this great new drug. You can guess what it was.
I was livid because I had never told her I was worried about losing the pregnancy weight or asked for advice. I was like maybe 9 weeks pregnant and hadn’t put on a pound.
Now I’m 22 weeks, I’ve put on about 10, and I’m comfortable where I am. I think her bringing that up to me was extremely
inappropriate but honestly I feel bad for her- she’s a boomer and has “thinness is close to godliness” hard-wired in her brain. My mom is the same generation and did a number on me growing up.
But now I’m an adult, making my own choices. Still I thank the god that I’m having a boy so those two can’t try to erode a little girl’s self confidence.
Wow extremely inappropriate, I would have been super annoyed and triggered by that too. I’m glad you can see it as her issue and not yours. You’re probably going to have to brush off a lot of comments like that when the baby is here and separate her judgments from your own. Moms never stop momming it seems and love to offer their opinions and takes on what you’re doing with your kid, who they see as theirs in a way. Stay strong!
Congrats! I’m sorry you’ve gotten crappy comments. I know what you mean about the hardwire.
My Gran (silent generation? WW2 generation) told me when I was pregnant about how her obgyn for my dad’s pregnancy told her, “I don’t let my girls get fat.” She dieted her whole pregnancy, scared of being shamed.
Incidentally, my dad is on ozempec, he’s been diabetic for 25+ years now. It has helped him lose some weight, and he’s been able to become more active because of it. I’m hopeful it will give him the positive momentum he needs to address some of his health problems.
@ Hootenannie, I am incredibly sorry that you MIL and mother have these issues with weight. I am appalled and so sad to hear that your mother put these pressures on you. The same goes for your MIL. Stay strong and remind them that you are a grown woman and are perfectly capable of making your own decisions and it’s none of their business. Tell them advice is given when it is asked otherwise butt out, but let them know their advice is not welcomed otherwise they will keep doing it.
I take this personally as a boomer myself. We are not all like that and I never told my children, boy & girl, to lose weight or to become thin. Unfortunately, I think that some mothers, the older boomers had this mentality but not all boomers are like this.
Comments about other people’s weight are wildly inappropriate, full stop.
My in-laws will call my kids (who are boys – diet culture impacts everyone’s self-talk) “piggies” if they want seconds and HOO BOY did they get insanely defensive when I plainly told them not to comment on my kids eating or bodies. Mind your own disordered eating, Susan.
I have gastroparesis (basically frozen stomach so you get nausea and throw up a lot if it gets bad) which sometimes goes away but usually is not curable and often gets worse over time. I have noticed over the last month at least three new people posting on Reddit gastroparesis boards that they took ozempic/wegovy for weight loss, had bad reactions and stopped and now they have gastroparesis which their doctors think is permanent. Semaglutides basically cause a gastroparesis type reaction to lose weight so maybe a side effect will be permanent gastrointestinal issues. It is not worth the risk.
Adding: It’s not worth the risk if you don’t need the medication for medical reasons. I live in LA and many women are on it to lose vanity pounds.
Thank you exactly. If you are not struggling with your A1C or are not actually overweight you don’t need a drug with risks. Drugs aren’t candy… they need to be used with serious intentions and thought
For some people it is worth the risk. Gastroparesis is a known rare side effect. You also have to consider the patient individually and their individual heath status. There are significant risks associated with continued obesity—coronary artery disease, diabetes, sleep apnea to name a few. To make a blanket statement “not worth the risk” for everyone is pretty bold and unsubstantiated.
This misuse of Ozempic infuriates me. I take this medication and thanks to its amazing effectiveness my A1C is 5.6. The goal is under 7. Mind you I am focused on a healthy lifestyle to keep my diabetes well controlled. I lost 50 pounds on this drug but over a year not in 2 weeks. I was encouraged to lose slowly and monitored by doctors while I slowly increased the amount of this drug so that it took a 6 months to even get to the full strength of the drug. My face is fine and I tolerate the drug well. I still have weight to lose but I am working on losing it slowly with normal healthy diet and exercise. I eat at least 1200 – 1500 calories per day (often more sigh). This drug is a tool. It has to be used AS INTENDED and with common sense. First and foremost, if you are a dumb idiot who takes medicine without knowing what you are taking you should be at a completely different medical provider Chelsea. If this drug isn’t tolerated then it should be immediately stopped. If you want to loose 20 pounds but are already thin then you are risking way more than your face. No doctor in my set of doctors would encourage this drug to be used that way. NO drug should ever be taken unless your health needs warrant the use of it. All drugs have risk and side effects. My fear is that others who face serious health risks may be afraid to use a lifesaving medication because A DUMB as dirt actress told them loosing too much weight too fast made her face ugly.
There’s always a price to pay for this kind of thing – we never learn!
SCOTUS killing Roe was my ozempic. I can only eat about a half sandwich at a time. Still.
Very good post Peridot. I agree that these medications should be used if you are medically overweight/obese and not to drop a little weight. I am currently on one as I was class 3 obese and have co- morbidities like prediabetes and high blood pressure. I expect to remain on the medication as long as it helps me to eat healthy and not as much. Obesity has been a life long struggle for me and requires a lot of work to manage. The pandemic was devastating to a lot of us as we turned to eating comfort foods to manage the stress.
I know a couple who are both taking it. At least he is. Not celebrities. They might have just done it for a few months to kick start weight loss? Though it sounds like that doesn’t really work. Neither really needed to lose weight, they had just put on a little Pandemic weight and, being in their late 40s, were having a lot of trouble taking it off despite disciplined efforts. Now they’re both looking thinner and younger, which is what they wanted.
I felt a little weird about that and feel quite concerned now. Especially since there is a shortage for Diabetics who really need it. My sister had Type I Diabetes. I can’t imagine people hogging insulin for weight loss reasons. Ugh.
I’ll admit that I was tempted when I first heard about it. I’ve been struggling with the same 20-30 pounds since college. But I just know I’d be someone who would gain it all back. I’m following a couple of influencers who are taking it, and I’m really curious to see how they do when they wean off of it.
If we are to believe that being overweight and/or obese are medical conditions that need medication to manage, then it stands to reason that medication would be necessary long term, right? Like, I have been on Zoloft for anxiety for over 20 years. I don’t stop taking it when it works. So, if I were to start taking one of these medications for weight loss, I would take it with the understanding that it’s for the long haul. OF COURSE people gain the weight back when they stop taking it.
About 15 years ago a dr. put me on Victoza to help me lose weight and control my blood sugar. It’s my understanding that it is very similar to Ozempic although it was once a day vs. once a week. I am hyperinsulinemic, so while it made sense and yes, I lost weight, I lost weight because I literally had no appetite. One taco would fill me up. At first it was pretty exciting, but eventually I needed to up the dose…and eventually I went off it because eating so low calorie made my Hashimoto’s flare up and I became completely hypothyroid which has all sorts of unpleasant symptoms, including hair loss, weight gain, body aches, and feeling really really stupid a lot of the time.
Obviously I did have another condition, which is the Hashi’s, but this is SUPER common in women and often underdiagnosed.
Ever since I have not been able to really diet because when I drop below a certain number of calories I become hypothyroid, and I am far more comfortable in my body being fat and not being hypo than being skinny and forever having to go up and down on thyroid meds and having to deal with the side effects of a hypothyroid (or hyperthyroid) flare.
Anyway, my point is that this works because you are eating less. It is highly effective at controlling appetite, but it’s not magic. I wish it were and that I didn’t suspect that it’s too good to be true because maybe, finally, I’d be skinny like I was when I smoked 3 packs a day and was 21 years old…
I need to lose 60lb basically though 40 would be amazing. I’m morbidly obese and have health issues that make the movement difficult. And I eat a healthy diet, absolutely no sugar, limited fruit, plenty of veg, good protein, some light carbs like lower carb bread /crackers. Can’t lose weight and only going up. I wanted to try this drug when it’s back in supply but a bit cautious of the side effects. Ugh.
On the plus side I reversed my pre diabetes with diet alone.
Talk to your doctor! Wegovy *is* back in supply – which is the version for weight loss – so no shaming – not that it was deserved in the first place. Yes, it can have side effects but it’s not like obesity doesn’t either. I gladly traded the obesity side effects for those of Wegovy. One group of side effects make me healthier and feel better overall, the others make me feel way worse.