Vancouver Clinic Ozempic® Uncovered by Doctor: 10 Commonly Asked Questions Addressed
Ozempic® is an increasingly popular topic of discussion in the context of weight loss by our doctors at our Vancouver Clinic, Sparrow MD. In recent years, the pharmaceutical industry has witnessed significant advancements in the treatment of various medical conditions. One such breakthrough is Ozempic®, a medication used to manage type 2 diabetes. With its growing popularity, it's natural for people to have questions about this innovative medication, not just for diabetes but for weight loss. In this blog, we will address some of the most popular questions about Ozempic®, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of its uses, benefits, and potential side effects.
1. What is Ozempic®, and how does it work?
Ozempic® is a prescription medication that belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs). It works by mimicking the actions of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Ozempic® is therefore primarily used for blood sugar control in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
In clinical studies, Ozempic® has also been shown to promote weight loss. The weight loss effect is attributed to the medication's ability to affect appetite regulation and satiety. Ozempic® works by stimulating the release of insulin, reducing glucagon production, and slowing down the emptying of the stomach. These actions can help individuals feel fuller for longer, leading to reduced food intake and subsequent weight loss.
2. Who is Ozempic® suitable for in Vancouver?
Ozempic® (semaglutide) is approved for use in Canada for the management of type 2 diabetes, but not specifically for weight loss. It is used either as a standalone treatment or in combination with other diabetes medications. It may be recommended for individuals who have not achieved adequate blood sugar control through diet and exercise alone. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if Ozempic® is the right choice for your specific situation.
Healthcare providers may prescribe Ozempic® off-label for purposes other than Type 2 diabetes management, such as weight loss. It's important to consult a physician for the most up-to-date information regarding off-label Ozempic® use to ensure both safety as well as appropriateness of medication usage and dosing.
Typically for prescription of other GLP-1 Receptor Agonists, patients would need to qualify with the following:
- You have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more (clinically obese); or
- You have a body mass index of 27 or more (significantly overweight) and you also have a medical condition that is often caused, or made worse, by excess body weight.
3. How is Ozempic® administered and what is the dose used?
Ozempic® (semaglutide) is administered as a subcutaneous injection, which means it is injected under the skin. It is typically given once a week, using a prefilled pen or syringe. The injection is usually administered in the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. It's important to follow the specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider or the instructions included with the medication. Additionally, healthcare professionals can provide proper training on how to administer Ozempic® correctly.
Ozempic® Starting Dose: Ozempic® treatment for weight loss starts at 0.25mg once per week. Our patients stay at that low dose for at least the first 4 weeks of treatment whilst your body gets used to the drug.
Ozempic® Maintenance Dose: After starting on Ozempic® low dose, our patients will increase to 0.5mg for another 4 weeks and then move onto the 1mg weekly maintenance dose for the rest of your treatment plan — provided our patients are tolerating the medications without any significant side effects. There's the potential to increase the dose above 1mg if our healthcare providers consider it appropriate for your goals.
4. How much weight do you expect to lose with Ozempic®
The amount of weight loss experienced with Ozempic® (semaglutide) can vary among individuals. Clinical trials have shown that in people with type 2 diabetes, Ozempic® can lead to significant weight loss compared to placebo. However, the specific amount of weight loss can be influenced by factors such as diet, exercise, individual metabolism, and overall health. To date, Ozempic® is primarily prescribed for managing diabetes, and any weight loss observed in clinical studies is typically a secondary effect in the diabetic population.
About a third of people on Ozempic® for weight loss will lose 10% or more of their body weight. Most people should expect to lose at least 5% of their starting body weight when using Ozempic® for weight loss. Research studies have been published by the Lancet as well as the New England Journal of Medicine on Ozempic®’s effect on weight loss. Based on the STEP-1 study, people on Semaglutide lost 15.3 kg compared to the placebo group who only lost 2.6 kg, at 68 weeks of treatment with once-weekly subcutaneous semaglutide (at a dose of 2.4 mg), plus lifestyle intervention. The STEP-2 study showed that semaglutide 2.4 mg once a week achieved a superior and clinically meaningful decrease in body weight compared with placebo, leading to at least 5% weight loss in patients with both obesity/overweight as well as Type 2 diabetes.
5. How much weight can you lose with Ozempic® in a month?
Typically, when initiating treatment with the recommended starting dose of 0.25 mg of Ozempic®, alongside a reduced-calorie diet of 500 to 1000 calories and exercising three times a week, individuals who are overweight or obese may anticipate losing approximately 3-5 pounds in the first month. However, it's important to note that individual results may vary based on various factors, and consulting with a healthcare professional is essential for personalized advice.
Subsequently, weight loss can vary from person to person depending on individual response to medication as well as ongoing lifestyle maintenance.
6. Do you lose belly fat with Ozempic®?
Central obesity or excess “belly fat” carries numerous health risks. The presence of surplus fat, especially around the abdomen and within abdominal organs (known as visceral fat), contributes to significant causes of mortality and disability. These include heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, cancer, fatty liver disease, and diabetes.
Based on the Step-1 Clinical Study, Semaglutide was associated with greater reductions from baseline than placebo in waist circumference, –13.54 cm with semaglutide, at week 68. This reduction in central fat usually correlates with improvements in risk factors for heart disease, blood sugar levels, and quality of life.
7. Can you drink alcohol with Ozempic®?
The short answer is yes: you can drink alcohol while taking Ozempic®.
While there are no specific disclaimers against alcohol consumption with Ozempic®, our healthcare team strongly recommends drinking in moderation. Our patients generally report slight decreases in alcohol tolerance while they are on Ozempic® treatment.
Research indicates that sporadic alcohol consumption can potentially lead to reduced blood sugar levels, whereas prolonged alcohol intake may elevate blood sugar levels. These fluctuations in blood sugar can heighten the risk of dangerously low (hypoglycemia) or high (hyperglycemia) blood sugar levels, particularly for individuals with diabetes. Introducing Ozempic® to the equation can further impact blood glucose levels, especially during the initial stages of treatment or when other diabetes medications, such as insulin, are being used concurrently. We, therefore, advise our patients to exercise caution with alcohol consumption while on Ozempic®.
8. What are the most common Ozempic® side effects?
Similar to any medication, Ozempic® can potentially cause side effects in certain individuals. Typically, these side effects are mild, temporary, and can be effectively managed or reduced. However, if you experience persistent side effects, it is advisable to consult with your prescribing healthcare professional to discuss potential solutions. Some common side effects associated with Ozempic® include:
- 1. Gastrointestinal disturbances such as heartburn and upset stomach.
- 2. Nausea and vomiting.
- 3. Diarrhea.
- 4. Abdominal pain or constipation.
- 5. Flatulence (excessive gas).
- 6. Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- 7. Fatigue (feeling tired or lacking energy).
These side effects are only expected in 10% of patients. In order to minimise side effects, our physicians gradually increase the medication dose to the full therapeutic dosage of Ozempic® over a number of weeks.
By starting on a low dose of 0.25 mg, your body has the chance to get used to the drug before the next dose is increased to 0.5 mg. As a result, very few patients our patients have reported side effects. Generally, our patients have a chance to speak with our healthcare team on how to manage these side effects before initiating treatment and at regular intervals while they are receiving treatment.
9. How long does it take to lose weight with GLP-1 Receptor Agonists like Saxenda® or Ozempic®?
Everyone is different in their weight loss journey. Once you begin your treatment with Saxenda® or Ozempic®, some people can find it takes several weeks to see any weight loss, yet others may see some weight loss within a week or 2. While it can be difficult, try to remain patient with your results and continue to lead a healthy lifestyle while you are undergoing treatment.
At Sparrow MD, our physicians advocate for a consistent, steady, and gradual approach to achieving healthy weight loss over time. We prioritize sustainable strategies rather than endorsing fad diet plans that may initially lead to rapid weight loss but fail to support long-term weight management and overall well-being. Our focus is on helping you reach your long-term weight loss goals in a sustainable and healthy manner.
Our approach aims to minimize potential side effects associated with drastic changes in body composition. This includes mitigating phenomena like "Ozempic face" and hair loss, which are sometimes reported with rapid weight loss methods. We prioritize your overall well-being and consider various factors to promote a sustainable and healthy weight loss journey that minimizes potential side effects and ensures long-term success.
10. How much is Ozempic® in Canada?
In Canada, Ozempic® is priced between $200 and $300 per month. It's important to highlight that the manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, received Health Canada approval in 2021 for another medication called Wegovy®. Both Ozempic® and Wegovy® contain the same active ingredient, semaglutide, but Wegovy® is specifically designed for higher doses to target obesity. Health Canada has granted approval for Wegovy®'s use in individuals who are overweight and have a significant weight-related condition like hypertension, diabetes, or obstructive sleep apnea. Currently, Wegovy® is not available in Canada, and Novo Nordisk has not announced a specific release date. Consequently, some doctors are prescribing higher doses of Ozempic® for patients dealing with obesity, as an alternative measure.
Ozempic® Clinic Vancouver Sparrow MD: Booking Your Consultation
To answer more questions about healthy living and weight loss, we invite you to book a consultation with our healthcare team. We'll provide you with a thorough understanding of GLP-1 Receptor Agonists, their uses, benefits, and potential side effects. Our doctors will assess your unique situation, ensuring the right treatment plan for you.
During the consultation, we'll discuss the proper administration of GLP-1 Receptor Agonists and the recommended doses for weight loss. Our team will guide you through the process, addressing any concerns you may have along the way. We'll also explore the potential effects on belly fat reduction, and alcohol consumption, and how to address other aesthetic side effects such as facial fat loss, colloquially known as “Ozempic Face.” At Sparrow MD, we understand that everyone's weight loss journey is unique, we'll help set realistic expectations and discuss a steady and sustainable approach. Our aim is to support your long-term weight loss goals while prioritizing your overall well-being.
Embark on your personalized self-care journey with Sparrow MD. Don't miss out on this opportunity to enhance your health and well-being by booking a consultation with our healthcare team today.