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Dr Tim Neavin
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Dr Tim Neavin

Ozempic Face

The drug Ozempic has gained a lot of media attention in recent years for its off-label use for weight loss. Even though it is not a weight loss drug, perhaps you know someone on it who has successfully shed many pounds rapidly. If you do, you may have noticed that their slimming down somehow made them look older. You may have even read about “Ozempic face”, a term that describes the often-seen aged facial appearance in men and women on Ozempic. What exactly is Ozempic face?

As with any rapid weight loss, the face deflates because fat cells shrink. In youth, a deflating face from rapid weight loss reacts more like a taut balloon. That is, it retains its shape due to the tight elasticity in the rubber. The face in youth has a similar strong elastic quality. Young faces can tolerate rapid weight much better and will often demonstrate such an aged appearance that accompanies the volume loss with weight loss. Compare that to a man or woman in their forties, fifties, or even older. Rapid weight loss will deflate their face more like a beach ball because their tissues aren’t quite as elastic. A deflated beach ball has too much surface area for the given volume. In human terms, the face looks saggy.

However, some people have noted that the faces seen on Ozempic still look older or “different” than faces seen in men and women who lose weight rapidly with diet and exercise or even bariatric surgery. Is this reality-based? Is it true that people on Ozempic see their faces prematurely age?

The short answer is “maybe”. We still need more literature on how this drug affects the body. Below is a good summary of the drug and is a worthwhile read. But you probably visited this page because you want to learn more about Ozempic Face – if it even exists.

Some physicians have noted that Ozempic often causes more muscle loss than other weight loss programs. In other words, men and women on Ozempic may be losing proportionally more muscle than we are used to seeing compared to other, more traditional weight loss programs. If this is indeed true, then this theory provides a very good explanation of the “Ozempic face”.

Understand, that the face is composed primarily of bone, fat, muscle, and skin. Any weight loss will shed fat in the face. And fat faces are youthful faces. Take a baby’s face, for example. It’s a ball of fat. Now look at an octogenarian’s face. It is skeletonized even if he or she is overweight. From a baby to very old age, we are all somewhere in this spectrum of facial volume loss. And if we want to look younger, we need more facial volume. As a final example, take a look at your face twenty years ago. Even if you were thinner, your face was fatter.

If it is true that Ozempic burns muscle, too, then this would change the facial appearance to look much older than a traditional weight loss method. This is because the muscles of the face also provide volume and Ozempic may result in a loss of volume. More than this, the muscles of the face are covered by a SMAS layer (superficial musculoaponeurotic system), the tissue that plastic surgeons suspend in facelifts. It very well be that the SMAS layer in addition to fat and muscle is shrinking in patients with Ozempic. In older men and women, this rapid facial deflation would create a very gaunt appearance. In younger men and women who have very robust SMAS and facial muscles, the changes may not immediately be evident. But it does make one wonder whether or not their faces will prematurely age later in life. That is, if Ozempic does create deflation in SMAS and facial muscles, is it permanent?

Whether or not Ozempic causes an aged appearance to the face more than traditional weight loss methods, fat transfer provides an excellent remedy. One of the downsides to losing weight as we get older has always been that it can age our faces. In certain instances, a facelift is indicated in addition to fat transfer to remove loose skin. But in most cases, if one didn’t need a facelift before Ozempic therapy, they wouldn’t need one after therapy. Fat transfer alone often restores the loss of volume (and then some) to remodel the face into one that looks younger and healthier.

Dr. Neavin is an expert on facial fat transfer. He speaks nationally and internationally on fat transfer. For before and after fat transfer images click here.

Ozempic as the “Wonder Drug”

Recently, much attention has been paid to some of the potential side effects from this perceived “weight loss medication” also being referred to as the “wonder drug” and its effects on the body. While the science is still early on the effects of Ozempic after weight loss, some physicians proclaim that a significant amount of muscle is lost (as well as loss of fat) on this drug. But is it true?

Let’s first take a look at what we know about Ozempic

Clinical Studies on Weight Loss

Clinical trials have demonstrated the weight loss benefits of Ozempic in people with type 2 diabetes. In these studies, participants treated with Ozempic experienced significant reductions in body weight compared to those treated with placebo or other antidiabetic medications. The weight loss was generally sustained over the long term, making Ozempic a valuable option for people who are looking to manage both their diabetes and weight.

Muscle Loss

While the primary mechanism of weight loss with Ozempic is through fat reduction, some loss of lean mass (muscle) can also occur, especially if the weight loss is rapid. This is a common phenomenon with any weight loss program or medication, as the body may break down muscle tissue to meet its energy needs when calorie intake is reduced

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a prescription medication used to treat adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, which means it mimics the action of GLP-1, a hormone that is naturally produced in the body. By mimicking GLP-1, Ozempic helps to regulate blood sugar levels and blood sugar spikes to improve blood glucose levels and glycemic control.
How is Ozempic administered?

Ozempic is typically administered as a subcutaneous injection, which means it is injected under the skin. The usual recommended dose is once a week, and the injection can be given at any time of the day, with or without food.

How does Ozempic work?

Ozempic works through several mechanisms to help control blood sugar levels:

  • Stimulation of Insulin Secretion: Ozempic stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas in response to elevated blood sugar levels, which helps to lower blood sugar.
  • Inhibition of Glucagon Secretion: It reduces the secretion of glucagon, a hormone that raises blood sugar levels, helping to further lower blood sugar.
  • Slowing of Gastric Emptying: Ozempic slows down the emptying of the stomach, which can help to reduce post-meal spikes in blood sugar.

Efficacy of Ozempic

Clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of Ozempic in improving glycemic control and reducing HbA1c levels (a measure of long-term blood sugar control) in people with type 2 diabetes. In addition to its glucose-lowering effects, Ozempic has also been shown to support weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes.

Side Effects of Ozempic

Like all medications, Ozempic can cause side effects. Common side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation

Some people may also experience:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Hypersensitivity reactions
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Thyroid tumors or thyroid cancer (rare)
  • Precautions and Contraindications

Ozempic is not suitable for everyone and should be used with caution in certain populations:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: Ozempic is not recommended for the treatment of type 1 diabetes.
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis: It should not be used in people with diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious complication of diabetes characterized by high blood sugar, ketones, and acidosis.
  • History of Pancreatitis: People with a history of pancreatitis should use Ozempic cautiously, as it may increase the risk of recurrent pancreatitis.
  • Thyroid Tumors: Ozempic should be used with caution in people with a history of thyroid tumors or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).

Cardiovascular Benefits

In addition to its glucose-lowering effects, Ozempic has demonstrated cardiovascular benefits in people with type 2 diabetes and established cardiovascular disease. Clinical trials have shown that Ozempic can reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death, in this patient population.

However, one of the additional benefits of Ozempic is its ability to promote weight loss. The weight loss effects of Ozempic are believed to be mediated through several mechanisms:

Appetite Suppression

Ozempic works by mimicking the action of GLP-1, a hormone that is naturally produced in the body. GLP-1 has been shown to suppress appetite by acting on the appetite centers in the brain. By mimicking the effects of GLP-1, Ozempic can help reduce feelings of hunger, leading to a decrease in calorie intake and subsequent weight loss.

Slowing of Gastric Emptying

Ozempic also slows down the emptying of the stomach, which can help people feel fuller for longer after eating. This can lead to reduced food intake and contribute to weight loss.

Reduced Caloric Intake

By reducing appetite and slowing gastric emptying, Ozempic can lead to a spontaneous reduction in caloric intake, which is a key factor in weight loss.

Increased Energy Expenditure

Some studies suggest that GLP-1 receptor agonists like Ozempic may also increase energy expenditure, although the mechanisms behind this are not fully understood. This can contribute to weight loss by burning more calories.

When people lose weight while taking Ozempic (semaglutide), the weight loss is typically a combination of fat mass and lean mass (muscle and water). However, the proportion of fat loss versus muscle loss can vary depending on several factors, including diet, exercise, and individual metabolic characteristics.

Fat Loss

Ozempic primarily promotes weight loss by reducing appetite and calorie intake, which leads to a reduction in fat mass. Studies have shown that people taking Ozempic experience significant reductions in body fat, particularly visceral fat, which is the fat stored around internal organs and is associated with increased health risks.

Importance of Diet and Exercise

The extent of muscle loss can be minimized by incorporating regular exercise, particularly resistance training, and an adequate protein intake in the diet. A balanced, healthy diet and exercise regimen can help preserve muscle mass while promoting fat loss, leading to a healthier and more sustainable weight loss.

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