Im a Harley St expert – this is why celeb weight loss jab Ozempic isnt a magic bullet
It’s the latest weight-loss drug hailed as a miracle cure for obesity. Just give yourself a weekly jab of Ozempic and watch the pounds drop off. As rumours swirl over which stars are using it to shape, it’s little wonder that demand for the fat jab has skyrocketed.
But hang on. Miracles for weight reduction, surely they don’t exist? Well, the truth is a little more complex. I can say that I have witnessed first-hand how Ozempic has transformed many of our patients’ lives. But be warned, it is not the magic bullet for everyone, nor is it a quick fix for dropping a few pounds before you hit the beach – as I had to tell yet another patient at my Harley Street Skin Clinic last week who was desperate to get some Ozempic so she could slip into her swimsuit.
This is a long-term solution for those with serious weight problems, who are trapped in a cycle of failed diets. People like Jan, 54, who had struggled with her weight for 20 years. As soon as each diet finished, the weight crept back on, with some extra for good luck. At 16st she was hurtling towards diabetes and a raised risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.
After six months of Ozempic, Jan has seen her weight drop 15%. “Now, I eat when I’m hungry, and I don’t have to worry about eating too much because it’s simply not possible,” she tells me. “Physically, I feel so much better, as well as emotionally more upbeat. I don’t think about food constantly. My blood pressure and glucose levels have dropped.”
Another patient, Emma, 28, told me that it has transformed her eating habits. “My whole day used to revolve around when I could eat. I never felt full, had a sweet tooth and constantly wanted to pick. The first time I went into a coffee shop and had a drink without a sandwich and cake I knew Ozempic was working.
“I began to notice that I wasn’t all that hungry any more and my cravings for sweet things and carby foods had diminished. And when I did eat, I ate a lot less.”
A year later Emma has lost 15% of her starting weight, and is on a maintenance dose.
So how does it work? Ozempic is the brand name for the drug semaglutide, also known by other brand names Rybelsus and Wegovy. Initially developed 10 years ago to treat type 2 diabetes, it mimics the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) which the body releases to tell you that you have eaten.
Ozempic creates a feeling of satiety and also slows gastric emptying. People feel less hungry, eat less and lose weight. It also increases insulin production and insulin sensitivity, and improves blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes, reducing the condition’s associated health risks including stroke and heart attack.
The drug needs to be prescribed by a doctor in the form of a weekly injection, administered by the patient using a pre-filled pen injector in the stomach or thigh. It is only available on the NHS if you have type 2 diabetes. However, many private doctors are now prescribing it off-label to treat obesity if they think the client would benefit from it.
Recommendations are that it is used for adults with at least one weight-related condition and a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35. In some cases, those with a BMI of 30 may also be able to access it.
Worryingly, though, some websites are supplying the drug to those who should not be using it. It’s being used by those who don’t have a clinical weight condition, and without any medical supervision. This opens patients up to all sorts of possible complications or interactions with other prescribed medicines. Also, it’s not always possible to verify the quality of weight-loss injections offered at the click of a button.
James, 45, came to us after buying a month’s supply via an online pharmacist. He admitted he lied about his weight so it fell in the obese range. His supply had arrived the next day but he wasn’t getting any results. However, our tests showed James had thyroid issues and should not have been taking it. He needed to see his GP to manage his thyroid condition.
It’s vital to have your medical history checked before taking semaglutide, and you then need to be carefully monitored with regular blood tests. The drug slightly increases the risk of pancreatitis, and it is contraindicated in people with a history of a certain type of thyroid cancer.
Side effects can include nausea, cramping, diarrhoea, acid reflux, vomiting and constipation. Not all clients are able to tolerate it. So let me be clear: this is a serious medication with potentially significant side effects, not a lifestyle pill to help non-obese people get slimmer.
Ozempic isn’t cheap either. Monthly injections can cost anything from £150 to £500 depending on the clinic, tests carried out and consultation fees. It doesn’t work for everyone, and it should serve only as a kick-starter to a healthier lifestyle.
New research shows that when you stop taking Ozempic, the effects stop immediately, so the challenge is to keep weight off with changes to diet, portion size and exercise. But for many people struggling to lose weight, it may prove to be just the medical intervention they need.
It could also help trim the £6 billion that obesity currently costs the NHS. Losing weight is a battle that is different for everyone but at least there is now a new way to help them win.
Visit harleystreetskinclinic.com for more information about Lesley and her team of doctors.
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