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 a prescription weight loss medication that’s injectable. The manufacturer claims the drug can help patients lose weight and keep it off.
Wegovy is the brand name version of the drug, and the generic version is called semaglutide. We'll use these terms interchangeably throughout this article because they refer to the same active drug ingredient.
In this article we’ll review the medical research on Wegovy to determine if it’s likely to be safe and effective for weight loss, as well as highlight its side effects. We’ll also compare Wegovy to other popular weight loss injections like Saxenda.
Does Wegovy Work For Weight Loss?
A clinical trial on Wegovy was published in the respected New England Journal of Medicine in 2021, testing whether the medication could help overweight and obese patients lose weight. Half of the patients received Wegovy injections and half of the patients received a placebo injection. Both groups also practiced lifestyle modifications such as reduced calorie diets.
The Wegovy group lost significantly more weight than the group 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.
Another clinical trial assessed the efficacy of Wegovy for inducing weight loss in patients with type-2 diabetes. The results were similar. Patients on 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, was even shown to be effective in an earlier trial at lower concentrations. Patients in this trial, which used doses of semaglutide ranging from 22% to 44% of the amount in Wegovy, experienced weight loss at a rate higher than placebo.
We can conclude from the available evidence that Wegovy is likely to be effective for weight loss, and may be more effective than lifestyle factors like diet and exercise alone.
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 proven 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 a favorable side effect for obese and overweight patients.
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 measures of satiation and decrease hunger.
Wegovy Side Effects
Gastrointestinal effects like nausea and vomiting were the most-reported side effects of Wegovy injections in the previously-linked efficacy trial. 63.5% of patients experienced these effects, which is a high number and significantly higher than placebo.
The more concerning side effects of Wegovy use are the rare but severe side effects like the increased risk of thyroid tumors, which Wegovy displays in the safety information on their homepage.
A recent medical review of Wegovy reported that 7.7% of patients experienced “severe adverse events” which is a relatively high percentage for serious side effects. No patients were noted to have died as a result of Wegovy use.
Overall, our opinion is that Wegovy has a more concerning side effect profile than some other prescription medications for weight loss.
Like many prescription medications, there is no fixed cost listed on the manufacturer's website, because the cost varies based on health insurance coverage. Novocare, the drug manufacturer, has a resource page where patients can input their health insurance information and check the cost of Wegovy.
Wegovy's cost without insurance is relatively high for American patients. GoodRx reports an average retail price of $1,564.70 at the time of updating this article.
Because Wegovy is a recently-approved (2021) drug, there is unfortunately no generic option approved by the FDA that’s available, at least for American patients. Pharmaceutical companies typically are granted sole market access for 10+ years after a medication is approved, to recoup the costs of development and marketing of the drug.
Wegovy Vs. Ozempic
Many patients are curious about whether Wegovy or Ozempic is more effective for weight loss.
Wegovy and Ozempic 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 Food and Drug Administration (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.
Wegovy Before-And-After Images
Patients considering Wegovy are often curious about before-and-after images from a real Wegovy patient, since this is a weight loss drug.
One of the most popular Wegovy reviews on YouTube is published by a channel called "B.A.M.N - By Any Means Necessary - Weight Loss Journey" and the creator shares her experience losing weight on Wegovy along with before-and-after images:
Wegovy Vs. Saxenda
Saxenda is another FDA-approved injectable weight loss medication. We recently published a Saxenda weight loss reviews article examining the research backing this drug.
The active ingredients in both drugs have similar safety and efficacy profiles when their clinical results are compared, 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 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, since we cannot identify any clearly differentiating factors between their efficacy and safety.
Wegovy Patient Reviews
Drugs.com is a website where real patients of prescription medications can publish reviews sharing their experience. Their page on Wegovy reviews shows that the drug has an average rating of 6.8/10.
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."
According to the drug's FDA label, Wegovy patients typically start at a low once-weekly dose of 0.25 milligrams (mg), and then dosage is increased every 4 weeks until the patient reaches the maximum dose of 2.4 mg per week.
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 created by a doctor may vary.
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).
Supergut Fiber Mix is our top fiber supplement, because it contains three different types of fiber powder, and retails for only $1.75 per serving at a subscription rate.
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 or unsafe.
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.