Ozempic's off-label use creates buzz beyond Hollywood

By MDLinx staff | Fact-checked by Jessica Wrubel
Published February 21, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Ozempic is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat Type 2 diabetes though many people are seeking it out for its weight loss benefits.

  • Ozempic can cause side effects, including "Ozempic face."

  • You should consider many factors before prescribing Ozempic for weight loss.

Ozempic (semaglutide) is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Type 2 diabetes, and it is gaining a lot of attention thanks to many celebrities admitting they use it to lose weight. 

Comedian Chelsea Handler recently talked about unknowingly taking the medication and losing weight quickly on the podcast “Call Her Daddy.” Rumors are swirling that other celebrities, including the Kardashians, use it to keep their slim figures. 

The drug, which works by making the patient feel full and regulating blood sugar, was first approved in 2021. According to news sources, the brand name Wegovy (semaglutide) faced a shortage last year because of its increase in popularity. 

“Ozempic is now becoming a popular off-label weight loss drug trending on social media in the general population, especially since it is known to help with weight loss in individuals with type 2 diabetes,” Kristen Fuller, MD tells MDLinx.

Ozempic face and other side effects

Ozempic use has its share of side effects, which patients should be aware of. These side effects include constipation, diarrhea, rebound weight gain once the drug is stopped, and “Ozempic face.” 

“Ozempic face,” which is causing a buzz on TikTok, is caused by the body rapidly losing weight, including in the face. Some social media users point out they have more wrinkles or their face looks more “tired” as a result.  

What to consider before prescribing 

Patients may ask you about prescribing Ozempic to help them in their weight loss journey. However, not everyone is a good fit for the off-label treatment. 

According to Fuller, the following people should not be prescribed the injectable drug include: 

  • Patients under 18 years of age

  • Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding

  • Patients with Type 1 diabetes

  • Patients with pancreatitis or problems with the kidneys

  • Patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2)

  • Patients with diabetic retinopathy

  • Patients with a family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)

Don't forget

It’s important to point out to patients that they will regain weight if only used for a short period of time.

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