Ozempic is a newish medication that activates a hormone known as GLP-1 which causes weight loss and lower blood sugar. This medication and all of the me-too drugs that also activate that same hormone (made by different companies), have all proven more effective than prior weight loss drugs, and they have become very popular. So, is Ozempic a good idea for weight loss?
How Ozempic Works
These drugs are helpful at lowering blood sugar and occupy a key role in the treatment regimen for type 2 diabetes. Ozempic and its other GLP-1 agonist cousins usually result in direct reduction of blood sugar in addition to weight loss, so they are particularly helpful when a person is both overweight and battling high blood sugars from type 2 diabetes.
Interestingly, Ozempic came about as a result of the science of metabolic surgery. Gastric bypass, duodenal switch, and sleeve gastrectomy derive their effectiveness in treating obesity and diabetes from the changes they create in our hormone profile circulating in the bloodstream by surgically changing the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. Scientists have identified around two dozen key hormones that produce long-term weight loss and reversal of type two diabetes with surgery, and one of those hormones is—you guessed it—GLP-1. Increased GLP-1 levels, the result of sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass, make a person feel less hungry, while also reducing fat storage in the liver and circulating blood sugar. There are also direct effects on the cells of the body and how they use and store energy, effects which, when combined with the other hormones, result in a reduction of what is known as the “body weight set point.” The result after surgery appears to be a long-term and possibly permanent favorable change in the hormone profile which results in long-term, possibly permanent weight reduction and lower blood sugar.
Many of us in the field expect Ozempic to be the first of many new hormonal drugs that mimic some of the effects from metabolic surgery. We envision a time when there may be a combination of these hormone-activating drugs that do a pretty good job of mimicking the effectiveness of metabolic surgery. Currently, Ozempic and its cousins don’t achieve the magnitude of weight loss or diabetes improvement that surgery does, but that’s probably because it’s only activating a single hormone, one of the two dozen or so that surgery impacts.
Drawbacks to Ozempic
There are some downsides to these drugs. The current problem is simply availability and access. The drugs remain on patent, meaning that the drug companies are allowed to charge very high prices to recoup their scientific and capital investments. We prescribe them a lot to our patients only to learn that the pharmacy tells our patient that the monthly charge will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1400 a month, which a few people can afford. The drugs are generally injectable, which is not the most popular method of application. And the data suggests what you might already think—namely, that once you stop taking the drug, the body is likely to revert back to higher body weight and higher blood sugar. Nonetheless, we expect these drugs to one day become more affordable as they become generic, and we hope many more people will gain access to them, since we are in dire need of more tools to battle the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes.
If you’re considering taking Ozempic to lose weight, we invite you to learn more about all the options at your disposal. Contact Nevada Surgical today to get started.