Ozempic, used off label for weight loss, is causing hair loss

Shahs of Sunset star Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi, who has admitted to using off label Ozempic to lose 10 pounds

We keep hearing about the drug Ozempic, which is approved to treat type 2 diabetes and is being used for weight loss, sometimes admittedly, by influencers and reality stars. It seems Ozempic and similar drugs are really catching on as many actors and famous people are suddenly thinner than usual. I’m not naming names, but we’ve seen a lot of people showing noticeable weight loss. Doctors warn that rebound weight gain often happens when people go off these medications. Some users have noticed that their faces look hollow and sunken following the rapid weight loss. There’s another side effect of the weight loss from these drugs – hair loss. Severe calorie restriction causes stress on the body and can lead to hair shedding. Although the official numbers are low, many people are talking about this.

Experts are speaking out after social media users have reported hair loss after taking type 2 diabetes drugs Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro.

In recent weeks, patients have shared on social media their experiences with hair loss after taking Ozempic, an FDA-approved prescription medication for people with type 2 diabetes. It’s one of the brand names for semaglutide and tirzepatide — also known as Wegovy and Mounjaro — which works in the brain to impact satiety.

Taken once a week by injection in the thigh, stomach or arm, the medication has recently been trending on social media as some people have used it for weight loss, even though they don’t have diabetes or clinical obesity.

“What is really striking for folks is that there are no scalp symptoms. It doesn’t hurt, there’s no itching, but you can run your hands through your hair and you have a handful of hair,” Dr. Susan Massick, a dermatologist at Ohio State University, told NBC News. “It can be really disconcerting to see that.”

Hair loss is not a listed side effect of Ozempic. However, clinical trials show that 3% of people reported hair loss after taking Wegovy and up to 6% of people taking Mounjaro reported alopecia, a skin disease that can leave people with patchy bald spots or the complete loss of all hair.

[From People]

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’s Crystal King Minkoff recently was asked by Page Six if she considered using Ozempic and she said she’s thought about it, but that she’s in recovery for an eating disorder and that it wouldn’t be the right choice for her. She also added that she doesn’t think people should use it for vanity purposes when it’s hard for diabetics to access. She’s super fit so it’s bizarre that she was even asked about this. It also speaks to the way that women are pressured to fit into an unrealistic very thin ideal.

The more we hear about Ozempic, the worse it sounds! People with diabetes who need these drugs can’t get them, while rich people who want to lose 10 vanity pounds are ordering them online. Maybe it’s just the time of year, but it feels like we’re in the worst timeline. People who don’t need to lose weight for health reasons are risking their health and hairlines just to be a smaller size. It really does not seem worth the trade off given the side effects.

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51 Responses to “Ozempic, used off label for weight loss, is causing hair loss”

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  1. Kate says:

    Grabbing some popcorn bc these ozempic posts get a LOT of defensive, angry comments 👀

    • Izzy says:

      Maybe on other forums. Not usually on here, so hopefully people who don’t struggle with blood sugar, A1C, or weight issues will read our comments with an open mind because TBH we’ve already been judged enough in our lifetimes.

  2. girl_ninja says:

    They will find another adverse affect that Ozempic causes but these folks don’t care. Being skinny is the most important thing. And the people who DO need it are struggling to find it. Disgraceful.

    • Barb Mill says:

      I lost 30 lbs in about 6 months following Weight Watchers and I had hair falling out. That’s about 5 lbs a month which is not a fast rate of losing. I also had the Ozempic face people are talking about. Anyone that has lost a 20% of their body weight will have these same problems.

      • girl_ninja says:

        Sure. My concern is more with the folks who have diabetes and are unable to get the drug.

      • Ang says:

        Well done, Barb! But agree that hair loss is not exclusive to medicated weight loss.

      • Fabiola says:

        A lot of people after still losing their hair from Covid. I’m still shedding hair like crazy so it may not just be ozempic but a long term side effect from Covid

  3. Izzy says:

    Hi. User of semaglutide here. What they’re describing is called telogen effluvium, and it happens to a lot of bariatric surgery patients as well. The hair loss is due to dietary changes which affect nutritional intake. Calorie intake dropping substantially will cause hair loss, and the effect takes time to balance out once you adjust to an appropriate intake and your body adjusts to the changes. I had the same hair loss experience when I had mono 10 yrs ago and had no appetite for a month. I lost 25 lbs but also lost a lot of hair. It grew back when my appetite returned.

    Also, many people try to eliminate all fats and carbs as much as possible, as opposed to going for a balanced diet. My hair loss stopped once I added a little more carbs and healthy fats back in – I’m talking 100-150 calories more on top of an intake that was around 1200-1300 a day. The hair is growing back now. Unless there’s a medical necessity to restrict a certain type of food, balance is probably going to work well for a lot of people.

    • BeanieBean says:

      20-ish years ago I had some sort of gastro-intestinal issue where I lost a lot of weight & a lot of hair. I recovered eventually, regained my weight, but my hair stayed ridiculously thin. I had no job at the time so no health insurance, so I don’t know what exactly was going on. Now it doesn’t seem to matter. Yeah, my hair is thin but I’m feeling fine, so it’s all good. Thank you for the note on telogen effluvium; I googled that & learned a bit more. Interesting.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      People who starve themselves often lose hair, it’s one of the telltale signs of an eating disorder even when the person denies it. My understanding of Ozempic is it makes you feel not hungry, so you don’t eat, which means fewer nutrients. I believe that’s the cause, not because of the drug itself having a side effect.

  4. Velvet Elvis says:

    Well that sucks to read this. I literally just did my first injection of Ozempic for diabetes last night. I have already been experiencing hair loss since I hit menopause, which is a bummer. Can’t afford to lose any more.

    • Bookie says:

      Good luck! Rapid weight loss will cause hair loss whether you are losing weight with Ozempic or losing weight on your own without medication. My suggestion would be to track your food (I use MyFitnessPal but have used CarbManager in the past and liked that too) and to keep your weight loss to one or two pounds per week. Make sure you get enough protein and good fats. I’ve been on Mounjaro for four months and have lost 30 pounds with zero hair loss. I do take a hair supplement (Nutrafol) which may also help. Also, join Ozempic groups on Facebook or Reddit for support and advice.

    • Whyforthelove says:

      I’ve been taking it for diabetes as well and haven’t had any hair loss. It did help me loose some weight, but no hair. It has been a fantastic A1C help. My numbers are the same as a non-diabetic. The only pain is getting it filled with the supply problems.

    • Emmi says:

      Please don’t worry about this now. Diabetes is such a serious disease and needs to be treated. I know for us women, hair loss is more than “disconcerting” as that doctor put it but as others have said, it’s most likely temporary. When things balance out, the hair loss will stop. It is still preferable to diabetes, as shitty as it is. I lost some serious hair last year because I rapidly lost weight due to gallstones, then I had Covid, and all the while my thyroid was on the fritz. All of it taken care of now and the hair is growing back slowly. A lot of it is growing back grey though. Which … I mean I almost laughed.

    • Izzy says:

      One key thing my hairdresser told me is that hair needs carbs! Do yourself a favor and talk to a good dietician about a balanced diet that includes some healthy fats and carbs. That’s what I did and it’s helped tremendously. Also, monitor your calorie intake, don’t let it get too LOW.

      • Ang says:

        Ah! That’s why my hair is so thick — pasta , chips, and chocolate! 🙂 Yum

      • Izzy says:

        LOL, @Ang. Sometimes it’s just a genetic gift. But if you’ve always had thick hair and it thins from hair loss, a lot of times it will grow back. It really does help to keep a balanced diet. I went too much to an extreme of cutting out carbs and fats, and my body was unhappy about that. My dietician really helped me with that, and with managing some of the side effects that come with this drug as your body adjusts. Thankfully, those also go away for many.

    • Turtledove says:

      Velvet Elvis,

      Check with your doctor and see if you can take Biotin or Collagen supplements. I saw a thread recently where people were saying those helped with hair loss from fast weight loss.

      If the doc says it’s fine, might as well give it a try.

      • Izzy says:

        I take a regular biotin supplement. It’s not good to have too high an amount daily, so if you’re taking one of the super-high dose supplements, three times a week should do it.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      Velvet your diabetes is more important than hair loss, but God I know how hard hair loss is. But I tell you what, once you stabilize, and with a proper diet, I’m hopeful your hair will stabilize as well. And there’s plenty of products on the market. I wash with a black castor shampoo and conditioner, take biotin and collagen, and an assortment of vitamins every other, or every other other day lol. I find my body metabolizes better skipping a day or two.

      I just got back from the doctor yesterday, and I’ve lost a lot of weight (I have no idea how much because I won’t let them tell me lmao), and throughout peri and mena, I lost so. much. hair. I feel like almost half. And even though my hair is a bit thinner, when I condition it up and let it dry naturally, I’m actually liking it…shocker. It’s looking healthier, albeit I have to babysit it like I’m caring for a souffle. Yours might likely do the same.

  5. ML says:

    Because there are diabetics who actually NEED these drugs, it’s infuriating that doctors are able to prescribe these for weight loss without consequences. Hopefully the hair loss horror stories will dissuade people from using them as diet drugs. And if they do use them off label, they get hit with thinning hair.

    • thaisajs says:

      I’m working now to get on one of these drugs because of my obesity and inability to stay on a low-carb diet and honestly, if some hair falls out in exchange for my blood pressure falling to a normal level and less pressure on my arthritic knees, I’m totally cool with that.

      • ML says:

        Thaisajs, I wrote my comment without nuance and with an eye toward the ladies’ Instagrams that CB included. Obesity carries many health risks, among them diabetes. I wish you the best of luck in losing the weight!
        Diabetes is a canary in a coal mine for many diseases: heart disease, stroke, neuropathy, cancer, periodontal disease, loss of eyesight, etc. My more nuanced point would be that someone with diabetes who needs these drugs should have first dibs due to their health problems—many women who wind up on them for weight loss are not obese or suffering from the other sicknesses associated with diabetes. Good luck!!

      • Jenz says:

        For clarity: Ozempic is the brand name and dosing for diabetes insulin regulation; Wegovy is the brand name and dosing for weight loss. Both the same medicine (semaglutide) but different doses and uses. Wegovy is not ‘off label’ for weight loss, that’s its intended purpose. Ozempic dosing is not as effective for weight loss, but people could certainly be using it ‘off label’ for that purpose. Mounjaro and Saxenda/Victoza are different, but similar, medications.

  6. HeyKay says:

    Be lucky if hair loss is the only side effect.
    Taking a drug your body doesn’t need, I’d think would cause more serious side effects than hair loss. Like liver or kidney damage.

    All for vanity. Stupid.

  7. K says:

    If you think hair loss is bad wait til you get pancreatitis or cancer from screwing around with these drugs when you don’t need them. My god what idiots. If I sound judgmental then I am being heard correctly. Wtf are we teaching our kids.

  8. Chantal says:

    I’ll bet that’s not the only long term side effect of taking a drug for purposes other than intended/FDA approved. It sounds like they are getting this drug without any Dr oversight and follow up. It really sucks that diabetics are paying the price for some celebrities’ vanity.

  9. Izzy says:

    Wegovy for weight loss is NOT off-label. That is its specific approved indication. It would be off-label if it was someone trying to lose 10-20 lbs. There are specific BMI and comorbidity requirements for
    It as a weight loss drug. If someone only had to lose 20 lbs and met the BMI requirement, they would have to be about two feet tall.

    • Jsc says:

      Came here to agree with this. Wegovy is indicated for weight loss. It is working for me. I am classified as obese and need to lose 35 pounds – but I’m 5 feet tall.

      • Izzy says:

        Exactly. You meet the BMI requirements. As do I. But I also have hyperinsulimia, and access to Wegivy is a huge problem in the US because insurance companies often do not cover anything for obesity. So we went the route of Ozempic, knowing it would replace the medication which has prevented diabetes for me. I will be eternally grateful to my doctors for having the foresight to do this.

  10. Darke says:

    Wegovy is approved for weight loss only. It is not for type 2 diabetes. It is the same drug but the dosing is different. Taking Wegovy isn’t taking drugs out of the hands of diabetics.

  11. Cel2495 says:

    Not sure why anyone will choose to inject themselves with a medication they don’t need. I was injecting Trulicity for 6 months to combat my sugar levels as I was pre-diabetic and needed help. All under the supervision of my endocrinologist. After I got my thyroid problems resolved and Graves I was able to exercise, eat better , treat my anxiety with my therapist and now I been off it since July of last year. It was not fun injecting and I worked at the core of my problems to get better and then get off it.

    Anyhow, crazy world. They lucky if hair loss is the only side effect after taking a medication that they DONT need.

  12. Whyforthelove says:

    As someone who spent 15 years litigating drug cases I have to say the number of people who takes meds not thinking about the fact that every medication is a chemical agent that alters your biome is astounding. I have to take some powerful meds especially for my migraines, but I research them and make educated decisions. The number of people who blindly take medications is terrifying.

    • Izzy says:

      I agree with you. Anyone who has struggled with obesity is not taking this drug blindly, believe me. We have tried a million ways to lose weight, and even CICO was not enough for me to move out of the obese range.

      But I have to agree that someone who takes a drug that alters their entire metabolic hormone function, to lose 10 lbs or something like that, is certifiable.

      • Fabiola says:

        If someone was taking to lose 10-15lbs they would not be taking it it long term only short term so they would most likely but be experiencing long term side effects. Also, most medications have possible side effects listed.

  13. Emmi says:

    Whatever happened to do no harm? There is nothing wrong with prescribing weightloss drugs to people who cannot lose the weight otherwise, for whatever reason. Obesity can affect your health long term and as we all know, cause a whole host of diseases. But the side effects need to be worth it. They cannot be worth it for slim people who want to get super skinny.

    This whole discussion makes me wonder about the doctors prescribing this for people who are only taking it for vanity reasons. Again, do no harm? Same with plastic surgeons. I know, consent, your own body, etc. But I’m having such issues with the entire beauty industry these days. It seems absolutely insane.

    • Fabiola says:

      Practically ever medication that a doctor prescribes has possible side effects. If that was a requirement then no one would be prescribing medications. They all have risks and benefits.

  14. HeyKay says:

    How are the getting Drs. to prescribe them these drugs, if they don’t have diabetes?
    Dr. Feelgoods?

    Taking a drug used for a medical condition you do not have, is asking for trouble.
    And for the people who need it, and can’t get it, it’s terrible.

    Why is Hollywood such a bunch of sheep?

  15. Steph says:

    Can someone explain to me why diabetics can’t get these drugs? It sounds like the the rich are being blamed for a creating a shortage. That makes no sense to me for it to be a production issue. Is it actually an access issue? For example its too expensive?

  16. Dillesca says:

    It’s not just individuals clamoring for this– doctors are pushing these drugs instead of lifestyle changes. My brother (in his 30s) has autism and lives at home. He is overweight, but he is NOT diabetic or pre-diabetic. My parents took him to the doctor for a general check-up and mentioned they wanted to get him on a diet (nothing crazy– just general portion control, as he will eat everything if allowed), which has worked very well in the past. And the doctor suggested one of these injections right off the bat. Of course my parents declined.

  17. Typical Virgo says:

    It is HARDLY only influencers and reality stars using Ozempic. I can’t stand Jimmy Kimmel, but he was right when he looked out at the A-list audience while hosting the Oscars, and asked “is Ozempic right for me?”
    Frankly it looks like 80% of Holywood is using Ozempic.

  18. AlliS says:

    I had my thyroid removed after a cancer diagnosis several years ago. Since then my weight has kept going up no matter how much I worked out or adjusted my diet. I was pre-diabetic also. I started seeing a weight loss doctor about two years ago, avoided medication, and wouldn’t even consider bariatric surgery – as a nurse I’ve seen too many complications – although hopefully that will improve the more we learn. Over a year ago, I decided to try Ozempic as a last resort since my insurance company wouldn’t cover Wegovy for reason I don’t understand. I’ve since lost around 60 pounds and kept my hair. I had no trouble telling people I was on Ozempic, but with the recent publicity I feel like people will regard me as a cheating drug hog who has no will power. Anyway, I haven’t noticed an Ozempic shortage for quite a few months as more is being produced and those that are losing their hair are likely losing it to dietary changes and not getting enough food as they aren’t as hungry. Plus many Ozempic patients are also on Metformin which can deplete the Vitamin B levels and cause hair loss, so a supplement is necessary. It’s worked for me and I plan on weaning myself off of it over the next year. I do hope people realize that it’s not always flat out diet and exercise for obesity patients.

  19. Valerie says:

    When I was sick with an ED and at my lowest weight, my limit was hair loss. I thought, if this affects my hair, I’ll try to stop. Shallow but true. I was 22 and painfully self-conscious about my looks. It wasn’t about vanity but about perfectionism. I wanted to make sure that no one could ever look at me and find fault. If my actions were somewhat imperfect or if I in any way fell short, my looks would absolve me of my so-called crimes. I wasn’t pretty, but I could be skinny, and that was enough! It’s pretty twisted to think about now, but that was the standard I held myself to back then. So, when I heard about this, I thought back to that. It’s amazing the lengths that we’ll go to.

    • JujuB says:

      Valerie, your comment struck such a cord – I spent many years in the grip of bulimia and lots of it was about control and insecurity. The “I may not be the prettiest/funniest/best dressed but I can be the skinniest” thinking was indeed twisted, but so strong. I’m so grateful to be past it and so happy for you as well!

  20. Glenn Milstead says:

    I lost a tremendous(!) amount of hair after doing a keto diet. Coupled with androgenic alopecia, it was a recipe for disaster. My hair fell out, never came back and will never come back. I’ve been wearing hair toppers (or wiglets for my Celebitchy fam) since 2020.

    I’m taking semaglutide injections weekly now and can report no additional hair loss. I have, however, been able to lose some of the weight that I gained over the past few years — much of it due to the stress of losing 4 in-laws, my own precious grandmother, grandfather, and baby brother in the span of a year. Now that I’m peri-menopausal, losing that extra 80lbs was never going to be as easy for me as it was when I was younger.

    I have no regrets. I get my semaglutide injections weekly in my doctor’s office; I’m not taking Ozempic out of the hands of diabetic patients. I’ve lost 25lbs since the end of February, and I hope to lose about 50 more. If having access to this medication has prevented me from developing Type 2 diabetes, I’m so grateful.