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Wegovy for Weight Loss: Uses, Benefits and Side Effects

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 6 minutes read
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Wegovy is a weight loss drug that can be used to treat people who are obese or are overweight with other medical conditions. In this article, we explain what Wegovy is, who it is suitable for, how it works and possible side effects.

What is Wegovy?

Wegovy is the brand name for a drug called semaglutide. This is a type of drug known as a GLP-1 analogue and these drugs work by increasing the levels of a group of hormones called incretins. These are important hormones that help your body make more insulin when needed and also reduce the amount of glucose being produced by your liver when it is not needed.

They can also slow down your digestion so that sugar (glucose) from your food takes longer to be absorbed into your body, and so they can reduce your appetite which in turn can cause weight loss. This means that most people taking Wegovy also lose weight.

How Wegovy works

Wegovy works by utilising a hormone called GLP-1, or glucagon-like peptide-1, which plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels and appetite. When you inject Wegovy, it introduces semaglutide, a synthetic version of GLP-1, into your system.

Once in your body, Wegovy has several key effects:

  • Increased insulin production: It prompts your pancreas to produce more insulin when needed. Insulin is crucial for regulating blood sugar levels.
  • Reduced liver glucose production: Wegovy helps reduce the excessive production of glucose by your liver, especially when your body doesn't require it.
  • Slower digestion: This medication slows down the digestion process, causing sugar (glucose) from the food you eat to be absorbed more slowly into your bloodstream.
  • Appetite suppression: One of the significant effects of Wegovy is its ability to curb your appetite. This can lead to reduced food intake and, consequently, weight loss.

Overall, Wegovy combines these effects to help manage blood sugar levels and promote weight loss in individuals who are obese or are overweight with other medical conditions.

How long does Wegovy take to work?

The effectiveness of Wegovy can vary from person to person. However, most individuals begin to notice changes in their weight within the first few months of use.

It's important to follow your prescribed dosing schedule and maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular physical activity to maximise the benefits of Wegovy. Your healthcare provider can provide personalised guidance on the expected timeline for your specific situation.

Doctor’s advice

Who is Wegovy recommended for?

Wegovy is recommended for weight management in people who are obese or overweight people who have at least 1 weight-related comorbidity (e.g., diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension). The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued guidelines in 2023 recommending that it can be prescribed to people with a body mass index (BMI) over 30kg/m2 and at least one weight-related health condition (such as type 2 diabetes), within a specialist weight management service. It is also approved in the US by the FDA as an adjunct to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management.

How is Wegovy used?

Wegovy is an injection that you give yourself once a week and is injected under the skin (subcutaneously) of your stomach (abdomen), thigh, or upper arm. Your doctor or nurse will show you how to do this at first so you are confident with using it. It is important that you do not inject it into a muscle (intramuscularly) or vein (intravenously), and you should change the site that you inject yourself every week - do not use the same site for each injection.

Wegovy dosages

Use Wegovy once a week, on the same day each week, at any time of the day. Standard dosing starts at a dose of 0.25 mg per week in your first month, then 0.5 mg in your second month, then 1 mg in the third month and 1.7 mg each week by the fourth month. From the fifth month onwards, your doctor may either keep you on the 1.7 mg dose weekly or increase it to 2.4 mg. Please note this dosing may be different from person to person.

If you need to change the day of the week that you inject yourself for any reason, you may do so as long as your last dose of Wegovy was given 2 or more days before.

Check your eligibility and order with Healthwords.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose and it’s close to your next scheduled dose, skip the missed one and continue with your regular dosing schedule. It's crucial not to double the dose to make up for a missed injection. If you're unsure about what to do, consult your healthcare provider for guidance.

Skipping a dose may result in increased hunger, potentially causing overeating and reducing the medication's effectiveness. When you miss a dose of Wegovy, it lowers the presence of semaglutide in your system. This decrease can diminish the medication's ability to suppress appetite and delay the desired weight loss outcomes. Maintaining a consistent medication schedule as prescribed is crucial to achieve optimal results.

Pharmacist recommended products

Can anyone use Wegovy?

No, wegovy is not suitable if:

  • you or any of your family have ever had a type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or if you have an endocrine system condition called Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2)
  • you have had a serious allergic reaction to semaglutide or any of the ingredients in Wegovy

Before using Wegovy for the first time you should also tell your doctor if you have any other medical conditions, including if you:

  • have or have had problems with your pancreas or kidneys
  • have type 2 diabetes and a history of diabetic retinopathy
  • have or have had depression, suicidal thoughts, or mental health issues
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant (you should stop using Wegovy 2 months before you plan to become pregnant)
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed; It is not known if Wegovy passes into your breast milk

If you are taking other medications, make sure your doctor is aware of this - because Wegovy slows stomach emptying, it can affect medicines that need to pass through the stomach quickly.

Does Wegovy have side effects?

All medicines have the potential to cause side effects and Wegovy is no different. The most common ones that may be experienced include:

  • nausea
  • stomach pain, heartburn or belching
  • dizziness
  • diarrhoea and vomiting
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • runny nose or sore throat
  • constipation

Other possible side effects include pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas gland), gallbladder problems, allergic reactions and low mood. If you have diabetic eye disease (retinopathy) and are using insulin then Wegovy may lead to a worsening of your vision which may require treatment. If this occurs, inform your doctor.

Can you drink alcohol when taking Wegovy?

While taking Wegovy, it's advisable to avoid alcohol consumption. Alcohol can affect blood sugar levels and may interact with the medication. As a result, alcohol can worsen the side effects of Wegovy. It can also contribute to weight gain, which is counter to the intended effects of taking Wegovy.

It's best to consult with your healthcare provider regarding alcohol consumption and its potential impact on your treatment plan. They can provide personalised advice based on your medical history and individual circumstances.

What to eat when taking Wegovy

When taking Wegovy, it's important to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet. Focus on incorporating a variety of foods rich in nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Avoid excessive consumption of high-calorie or sugary foods, as this can counteract the weight loss benefits of Wegovy. Your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can help you create a personalised meal plan that aligns with your treatment goals.

Where can I buy Wegovy?

You can buy Wegovy right here at Healthwords. To determine if Wegovy is suitable for you and to obtain a prescription, it's essential to assess your circumstances using our questionnaire.

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Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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