Ozempic injections have reached viral status. We asked genuine users about their experience
They're the weight loss injections credited for helping Oprah Winfrey and Sharon Osbourne dramatically slim down and the trigger for Elon Musk shedding two stones. If you believe US talk show host Jimmy Kimmel's Oscars night comment ("When I look around this room, I can’t help but wonder ‘Is Ozempic right for me?") there are many more celebrities who have tried prescription semaglutide injections, commonly known as Ozempic, Rybelus and Wegovy.
Garnering just as much excitement - if not more - than TikTok's infamous Lemon Bottle fat-dissolving injections - Ozempic is fast becoming Hollywood's hottest topic in weight management medication.
As a quick refresher Ozempic (semaglutide) is a medication for type 2 diabetes that helps manage blood sugar levels. The self-administered weekly injections also suppress your appetite and cravings and can lead to dramatic weight loss.
Such is demand that there have been global shortages of Ozempic, leading to concerns about black market sales as well as medically unsupervised use.
Safety concerns are rising, but so is the level of excitement around such visible weight loss results. So who is Ozempic really for and what is it like to be on Ozempic?
We spoke to Get The Gloss contributors for their experiences and their advice.
Why start taking Ozempic?
Ateh Jewel, 45, the founder of Get The Gloss award-winning makeup line Ateh Jewel Beauty kick-started her Ozempic journey in October 2023 after successfully losing a stone during a ten-day stay at a medical fasting clinic. It came, she says, after years of actively avoiding medication due to being in denial about her out-of-control eating.
"I am type 2 diabetic so I had heard about Ozempic already [due to its use in diabetes management]," reveals Ateh. "However, I had always resisted it, probably because I didn’t want to believe that I was that sick or that my diabetes was that bad."
She maintained that weight loss and has shifted two more kilos with the help of Ozempic. Her progress would have been faster, she says, had she been able to access the full 1mg dose of Ozempic rather than the half-dose she remained on, due to global shortages.
But, during a trip to Buchinger Wilhelmi - the world-renowned therapeutic health and fasting clinic in Germany - things changed.
"All the doctors said 'you are too young for your diabetes to be that bad'. I also realised that eating was my emotional coping mechanism - I would 'eat my feelings' - and sugar was my 'go-go juice'.
"I had lost a stone in 10 days [at Buchinger] and it was time to take charge of my health. So, I decided to take Ozempic when I came back. I've been told now I have started the 1mg dose that from this month it will kick in and I will get crazy results.
"To be honest, I was really apprehensive about taking it," Ateh continues. She is pictured below left in August 2023, just before starting Ozempic. "I didn’t want anyone to think it was just about getting a skinny ass! But, Ozempic was actually designed for people like me who are overweight with type 2 diabetes. For me, this was about helping get my diabetes under control."
Olivia Falcon 49, journalist and the founder of The Editor’s List started on Ozempic in March 2023 after being told she was prediabetic. She has lost 7kg in six months."I’m very focused on health and ageing well, I could see a whole raft of health issues coming in the future."
She'd tried several supplements and healthy eating plans, "but that mainly led to yo-yo dieting. I actually had a few friends who were talking about Ozempic, including Fiona Golfar who has written about it for The Telegraph. So, I went to see Dr Wendy Denning at The Health Doctors on Devonshire Place in London." She gradually started to see results.
Did you tell people about being on Ozempic?
There's a reason the rumour mill is rife in Hollywood about who is on Ozempic (or other weight loss medications) and it's not just because the movie business loves gossip. Many weight loss discussions or procedures are shrouded in secrecy and shame. However, Ozempic's growing status could change that.
"I’m an open book about being on Ozempic, especially as I think so many people are interested," states Ateh. "If you are lucky enough to have something available to you, then you should consider it if it is appropriate. Going on Ozempic is definitely acknowledging that I have got to deal with my type 2 diabetes and my disorganised eating; it's about taking control and loving myself."
What does being on Ozempic feel like?
Perhaps the reason why advocates love Ozempic is that, unlike many weight loss solutions that leave you feeling incredibly hungry or even hangry, the injections curb your appetite, making it easier - in theory - to lose significant weight while using them. For both Ateh and Olivia, it was particularly important for them to curb their cravings:
“It makes you realise that you don’t need that much food," says Olivia. "We are all snacking and eating these massive meals that we don’t need."
"If you are that person who has half a packet of Hobnobs in the afternoon, you just don’t feel like it," agrees Ateh. "You just eat because you need to eat. It is actually fascinating because it's like ‘oh, this is what it is like to not have an issue with food.'"
What about the significant side effects?
However, that's not to say that Ozempic and Wegovy and others are without side effects. In fact, they can be significant - and even life-threatening. Some of them are:
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Thyroid cancer
- Rapid heartbeat
- Vision changes
- Gallbladder disease
- Kidney disease
That's a long and not exhaustive list and the international leader in functional medicine Dr Mark Hyman has been sharing his concerns on Instagram, especially around Ozempic's long-term use and its effects on the stomach.
Do Ozempic risks and side effects outweigh the benefits?
"I was aware of the risks but honestly being diabetic and having that get worse outweighed them," says Ateh. "I have had an uncle pass away because of his type 2 diabetes which is really quite scary, especially because I have children and I want to live. I weighed up the options and am confident having this as part of a medical process, under supervision."
Olivia adds: "Importantly, I had a series of medical investigations to make sure I could take it and I started on a dose of 0.25mg (a full dose is 1mg), before upping that to 0.5mg after losing about eight kilograms. Because I did a slow dose and I didn’t rush it, I didn’t get many side effects."
Ateh does not see herself on Ozempic long-term. "I want to take control of my health and if I lose two to three stone, I know I can reverse my diabetes and that is my aim, " says Ateh.
Olivia has plans to come off it by summer. "My goal is to sort out my diet and try to get off it in the summertime, by slowly phasing it out."
What is Ozempic face?
However, there is one side effect - trending on social media - 'Ozempic face': that's a significant loss of fat in the face triggered by weight loss, leading to a gaunt, older-looking appearance.
Leading aesthetic doctor and Teoxane ambassador Dr Wassim Taktouk says: "Ozempic can work wonders for those who have experienced health problems because of their weight. However, it does have an impact on the face. When using Ozempic over time, it can cause the face to lose volume and it can become quite ageing."
Are Ozempic and Wegovy worth it?
With that in mind, the obvious question is this - are the weight loss injections worth it? For both Olivia and Ateh, the answer is yes: "I’ve maintained my one-stone weight loss and I feel really well." reveals Ateh. "Olivia told me that it's about now [after four months or so] that you start to see crazy results kick in, so I am waiting to see that. But, I haven’t yo-yod back and I’ve maintained my weight loss. I feel a bit more in control of my eating and I’m not eating in a frenzy like I used to."
"In my opinion, it’s amazing! If you have visceral fat around your organs, say a fatty liver, it is good for that too. I’ve also seen the benefits including my high cholesterol falling from 6.6 to 5.9," affirms Olivia.
Any final advice?
If you are interested in Ozempic weight loss injections there's certainly a lot to be potentially excited about, but here's what you really need to consider before jumping on the hype of Ozempic or Wegovy.
Speak to your doctor first
See a doctor before starting Ozempic, to get a series of tests, including a blood pressure test, a full medical history and a blood test to see your liver and kidney function. Thyroid cancer in your family history is also a big no-go, so you need to discuss such things with your doctor.
“Don’t go rogue and don’t get it off the internet or the black market. Health is wealth," summarises Ateh.
Start low and slow
Olivia started on a low dose and worked up "It's about gradual results and is certainly not an overnight fix," says Olivia. You also shouldn’t just get on it and be like, ‘this is it’. You need to have a plan."
You have to change your lifestyle too
Weight loss injections are not enough to turn your health and lifestyle around on their own. We need to recognise how important a healthy lifestyle is too. "Ozempic won't improve your digestion (just slow it down) and it doesn't boost your gut health, so you need to eat a high-fibre diet to avoid constipation and drink lots of water, " says Olivia. "I am still on the 0.5mg dose but I put on a kilo over Christmas from a carb-heavy diet, proving that you do really need to look at your eating even when using it. You shouldn’t be drinking on it or eating after 6pm on it either, so it really is your responsibility to have a real look at your lifestyle."
It won't change your mental health
Finally, weight loss injections can't be an emotional crutch for your mental health issues, especially those relating to body image and eating disorders. Good medical supervision should screen this out.
“You have to do the work on loving yourself," concludes Ateh. "I’ve done CBT, therapy and I went to Buchinger. Ozempic is only a part of a holistic approach to help love yourself. You can do anything in life, just do it with love, with research and from positivity."