Being obese or overweight can result in many health problems like high blood cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or even cancer. Medications like Wegovy can help drop some pounds, but what happens when you stop taking Wegovy? Do side effects occur? Let’s find out below:
Weight Loss Medications – How Do They Work?
Adults tend to have serious health problems because of their weight, and sometimes eating a healthy diet and doing regular exercise isn’t enough to see optimal results. Taking a prescription weight-loss medication may be an option to help facilitate results.
Your physician may recommend you take a weight-loss drug if you haven’t been able to lose weight through plain diet and exercise and you meet one (or both) of the following factors:
- Having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 27-30
- Having a serious medical problem related to obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure.
What Is Wegovy?
Wegovy is an FDA-approved injectable prescription medication for adults who are generally obese, have a BMI index of 30 or higher, a body mass index of 27 or higher, and those with certain weight-related medical conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol levels, or type 2 diabetes.
Wegovy uses the drug semaglutide, a hormone that functions synthetically like the hormone glucagon peptide-1 (GLP-1) and is often used to treat type 2 diabetes and long-term weight management. This particular hormone occurs naturally in the body, though some people may benefit from additional supplementation.
Semaglutide works by targetting the amygdala, the specific area of the brain regulating appetite and food intake. It reduces appetite and increases the feeling of satiety (being full), and as a result, you lose weight easier and more effectively. It helps the pancreas release the right amount of insulin when blood sugar levels are high and can reduce the rate of cardiovascular events in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, who are particularly at high risk for such conditions.
But Wegovy’s effects don’t pop up overnight. It’s usually taken many months to see optimal results, though you can observe some changes in your eating habits and appetite over a matter of weeks.
One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that people who took Wegovy for over 20 weeks experienced weight loss of 11 percent of body weight. Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients who used Wegovy lost weight by 15% after regularly using it once a week for 16 months.
What Happens When You Stop Using Wegovy?
Staying on a recommended weight loss medication is an effective way to keep excess weight off. Maintaining a healthy weight is already hard in itself, but it is possible to put obesity under control and promote an optimal state of health, improve the quality of life, and even prolong one’s lifespan.
Novo Nordisk, Wegovy’s manufacturer, tested the medication in people who are clinically classified as obese and who have already suffered a heart attack. Executive director Jason Brett noted that people in the 3rd phase study of Wegovy saw their weight loss diminish gradually around the 60th week, and when people stopped taking the medication altogether, they started regaining weight.
Similarly, three other studies on three anti-obesity medications (Wegovy included) have shown rapid regain once the medication has stopped. In one of these studies, the weight returned rapidly to the baseline after maintaining weight loss for 3 years – once they stopped the medication.
Wegovy has proven safe and effective when used properly, though it can still cause occasional side effects after the injection. The most common ones include:
- Stomach/abdominal pain
- Feeling bloated
- Stomach flu
Other times, it can cause more serious ones:
- Pancreatitis – Some people experience severe pain in the stomach area that lingers for a long time, with or without vomiting.
- Gallbladder problems – Taking Wegovy™ can sometimes cause gallbladder problems, including gallstones. Other symptoms manifest like pain in your upper stomach, fever, and jaundice.
- Hypoglycemia – Increased risk of low blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes, especially those who take medicines for type 2 diabetes such as sulfonylureas or insulin.
- Kidney problems/kidney failure)
- Change in vision in patients with type 2 diabetes
- Increased heart rate – Sometimes, Wegovy can increase your heart rate for several minutes, even while at rest.
- Depression or thoughts of suicide – The medication can cause some mental changes and affect your mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings.
Wegovy can also interact with other medications like insulin, herbal supplements, prescription medication, and certain over-the-counter products. These interactions can diminish their effectiveness, so it’s best to take Wegovy a few hours after taking other medications.
Pregnant and/or breastfeeding women should also steer clear of weight-loss drugs like semaglutide to prevent harmful effects on fetal development and maternal health.
Taking weight-loss drugs alone isn’t a quick fix to weight loss problems, but when they may help you make the necessary lifestyle changes to lose weight and improve your health. Wegovy, on the one hand, has proven itself a promising medication, with reviews and studies that prove its effectiveness in promoting weight loss among patients.
Should you consider Wegovy, it’s important to note that you should still use prescription weight-loss medications secondary to a healthy diet and regular exercise, not as a one-stop substitute. It’s also important to check with your doctor to see if the medication is suitable for your health needs and to rule out any adverse health effects that might follow.