Wegovy Review: Do Weight Loss Injections Work?

Wegovy Review: Do Weight Loss Injections Work?


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Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to prescription medication.

Wegovy is an injectable, FDA-approved medication for weight loss. The manufacturer claims the drug can help patients lose weight and keep it off.

As explained in our semaglutide review article, semaglutide is the generic version of the drug and Wegovy is the brand-name version. We'll use these terms interchangeably throughout this article because they refer to the same active drug ingredient.

But has Wegovy been shown in research studies to cause weight loss? And if so, how much? Does the drug cause side effects? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of Wegovy?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we review clinical studies on Wegovy to determine if the drug is effective for weight loss, and if so, how much weight loss it causes.

We'll discuss side effects, document pricing, and feature unsponsored Wegovy user reviews.

We'll also compare the potential efficacy and safety of Wegovy to other weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Saxenda to provide our opinion on which is the best choice.

Does Wegovy Cause Weight Loss?

The effects of Wegovy on weight have been studied in various clinical trials.

clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that individuals taking Wegovy experienced significantly more weight loss than those receiving placebo injections.

The average change from baseline body weight in the Wegovy group was -14.9% over 68 weeks, while the average change from baseline body weight in the placebo group was only -2.4% over 68 weeks.

A 2021 clinical trial tested Wegovy in patients with type 2 diabetes.

The results were similar. Patients receiving Wegovy injections lost 9.6% of their baseline weight after 68 weeks, compared to only 3.4% baseline weight loss with placebo injections.

The active ingredient in Wegovy injections, semaglutide, is clinically shown to cause weight loss even at a lower dose than is included in Wegovy.

The above-linked trial used doses of semaglutide ranging from 22% to 44% of the amount in Wegovy, and still caused significant weight loss.

Based on the available research, we consider Wegovy likely to be effective for weight loss, which is unsurprising since the drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that indication.

Does Wegovy Cause Side Effects?

Wegovy does cause side effects in some patients.

Individuals taking Wegovy were shown to experience side effects at a higher rate than those taking placebo, and the most common side effects were gastrointestinal in nature (like nausea and vomiting) according to a 2022 medical review.

The more concerning potential side effects of Wegovy are rare but severe, such as the increased risk of thyroid tumors, which Wegovy displays in the safety information section of their website.

A 2021 medical review on Wegovy reported that 7.7% of patients experienced “severe adverse events,” which is a higher rate than most weight loss medications we've reviewed to date on Illuminate Health. 

According to the above-linked review, no patients died as a result of Wegovy use.

The risk of serious side effects in over 5% of patients suggests that patients may wish to speak with their doctor about weight loss medications with a more favorable side effect profile.

Real People Try Wegovy

A YouTube creator named "B.A.M.N - By Any Means Necessary - Weight Loss Journey" shared her weight loss journey on Wegovy, and included before-and-after images:

A YouTube creator named Bonnie claims to have lost 35 pounds on Wegovy:

How Much Does Wegovy Cost?

The retail price of Wegovy is relatively high in the US, costing around $1,400 at the time of updating this article, according to GoodRx.

However, the retail price can be reduced depending on health insurance coverage.

Novocare, the drug's manufacturer, has a resource page where patients can input their health insurance information and check the cost of Wegovy, and can also get a savings offer.

We typically recommend that patients speak with their doctor about generic alternatives, because they should be similarly effective to brand-name drugs, but can be cheaper.

However, at the time of updating this article there doesn't appear to be a generic version of Wegovy on the market.

Wegovy was only approved by the FDA in 2021, and drug manufacturers typically have five years of exclusive rights, so it may be a while until a generic alternative emerges.

Wegovy vs. Ozempic

Many patients are curious about whether Wegovy or Ozempic is more effective for weight loss, given that these two drugs contain the same active ingredient (semaglutide).

Wegovy is prescribed for obesity and Ozempic is prescribed for type 2 diabetes. Wegovy contains a higher dose of semaglutide, and both medications are injectable.

For weight loss, Wegovy is likely to be more effective because semaglutide is proven in medical research to have a dose-dependent effect. This means that the higher the dose (to a limit), the more effective the drug is.

Since Wegovy contains a higher dose of semaglutide than Ozempic, this means that Wegovy is likely to be more effective for weight loss. Wegovy is also approved by the FDA for weight loss, while Ozempic is not.

For type 2 diabetes, we would recommend that patients speak with their doctor about Ozempic, because Wegovy is not approved by the FDA to treat that condition, even though it’s been shown in some studies to have a blood-sugar-lowering effect.

Patients Rate Wegovy

Drugs.com is a website where patients taking prescription medication can publish reviews sharing their experience. The Drugs.com page on Wegovy reports an average rating of 7.1 out of 10 at the time of updating this article.

We cannot verify the accuracy or authenticity of any reviews on this site.

The top positive review of Wegovy comes from a user called "Philly" who claims that the drug caused several positive health changes:

"6 months. -65 pounds. Hypertension gone. Pre Diabetes gone. Sleep apnea gone. Lower leg skin breakdown gone. Slow progress now."

The top negative review of Wegovy is written by a user named "Kmac" who claims that the drug was effective for weight loss but caused unpleasant side effects:

"I made it to the second dose of 0.5 mg before I threw in the towel. This stuff is WICKED. I spent 6 weeks of my life with an upset stomach, the absolute worst reflux and heartburn I have ever had, and constant nausea. I had to literally force myself to eat. Would not recommend."

Wegovy vs. Saxenda

Saxenda is another FDA-approved injectable weight loss medication, as we discussed in our recent Saxenda review article.

The active ingredients in both drugs have similar safety and efficacy profiles in clinical studies, which is unsurprising since they’re similar chemical compounds (liraglutide vs. semaglutide). 

One meta-study examined the two drugs head-to-head and found that the active ingredient in Wegovy was more effective for weight loss than the active ingredient in Saxenda.

The doses reviewed in this study are lower than the respective doses in Wegovy and Saxenda, so these results shouldn’t be directly interpreted that Wegovy is superior.

Wegovy may be slightly more effective, but we need more research to confirm that.

For now, we would recommend that patients considering one of these two medications compare their costs and side effects, since potential effectiveness appears to be similar.

How Does Wegovy Work?

The active ingredient in Wegovy is part of a class of chemical compounds called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RA). These compounds have several biological effects that can cause weight loss.

GLP-1RAs have been shown in medical research to reduce appetite, slow the release of food from the stomach, and increase feelings of fullness after eating.

This class of drugs was initially developed for the treatment of diabetes, and weight loss was noted in early research as an unintended side effect.

According to the above-linked study, the active ingredient in Wegovy can stimulate certain neurons (POMC/CART) and inhibit certain peptides (neuropeptide Y) which increase the perception of satiation and decrease hunger.

A video from 60 Minutes visually represents how Wegovy works:

Wegovy Dosage

According to the drug's FDA label, Wegovy patients typically start at a once-weekly dose of 0.25 milligrams (mg), and then dosage is increased every 4 weeks until the maximum dose of 2.4 mg per week is achieved.

Wegovy dosing can be administered with or without meals according to the drug's FDA label.

While this is general information provided by the drug manufacturer, individual dosing recommendations from by a doctor may vary.

Doctors typically start patients on the lowest dose within the effective range to reduce the risk of side effects, and can increase dose if the patient fails to achieve a therapeutic effect.

Our Clean Weight Loss Picks

There are food-based nutrients which have been shown in medical studies to be effective for weight loss.

Dietary fiber was shown in a medical review published in The Journal of Nutrition to cause 16 pounds of weight loss in 6 months when combined with moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline).

MBG Organic Fiber Potency+ is our top fiber pick because it's certified organic, provides 7 g of fiber per serving and costs under $1.85 per serving at the time of updating this article.

MCT oil was shown in a meta-study to cause more than one pound of weight loss over 10 weeks. This equates to potential annualized weight loss of 6 pounds per year with less than one tablespoon's worth of MCT oil per day.

Bulletproof MCT Oil is our top MCT oil product, because the only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts. and it currently costs only $15.50 for over a month's worth of product.

Ginger intake "significantly decreased body weight" according to a 2019 meta-study on ginger and weight loss that analyzed data from 14 clinical trials.

Pique La Ginger is our top ginger product, because it's an organic tea in convenient crystallized form, and all that's needed is to pour the powder into a glass and add hot water.

All three of the products mentioned in this section are entirely free of additive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

We're not suggesting any of these supplements should be used to treat any medical condition, or that they're as effective as any FDA-approved medication; rather, we're just sharing information that individuals averse to prescription medication can speak with their doctor about.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Wegovy is clinically shown to cause weight loss in both non-diabetic and diabetic patients.

The common side effects of this drug are relatively mild such as nausea and vomiting. However, more severe side effects were shown to occur more than 7% of the time in a medical review we cited in this article.

Wegovy appears to be superior to Ozempic for weight loss, and potentially superior to Saxenda but more research is needed in the latter case.

The cost of Wegovy varies significantly based on whether a patient has health insurance or not, and the retail price is currently over $1,400.

In this article we featured a video explaining how Wegovy works in the body, and shared videos from real Wegovy users discussing their experience taking the drug.