Wegovy Review: Are Weight Loss Injections Safe?

Wegovy Review: Are Weight Loss Injections Safe?


| |
| |


Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s) and published for informational purposes only. 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.

Wegovy Cost

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."

Wegovy Dosage

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 Weight Loss Supplement Recommendations

There exist several over-the-counter (OTC) weight loss supplements that don't require a prescription, and which have medical research backing.

We are not suggesting that these products are as effective as Wegovy; just that it may be worthwhile for an overweight patient to discuss these options with their doctor given their documented efficacy and lack of significant side effects. They may also be used in addition to prescription weight loss medication.

We recommend dietary fiber as a safe and effective weight loss supplement, especially when combined with caloric restriction.

landmark medical study found that moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline) combined with dietary fiber intake (a minimum of 20 grams per day) caused an average weight loss of 16.03 pounds over 6 months. That’s a pace of 32 pounds per year of weight loss in overweight individuals simply by adding fiber to a moderately-restricted-calorie diet.

The fiber supplement we recommend is SuperGut Fiber Mix. It contains a clean and effective formulation: a blend of three different types of unflavored dietary fiber and zero additive ingredients. It can be mixed into liquids or foods. Interested consumers can buy SuperGut fiber at this link.

We recommend using two fiber mixes per day, which provides 16 g of total fiber. Diet should provide the remaining fiber necessary to meet the 20 g minimum threshold.

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is another dietary supplement which has been shown in clinical trials to cause weight loss.

MCT oil is quickly absorbed by the body and increases metabolic rate, which causes fat loss. A meta-study on MCT oil documented weight loss of 1.12 pounds over 10 weeks. This equates to a potential annualized weight loss of 5.84 pounds with MCT oil supplementation.

We recommend Bulletproof MCT Oil as our top MCT oil product, because it has a clean and effective formulation. The only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts, and the product has no questionable additives. Interested consumers can buy Bulletproof MCT Oil at this link.

The effective dose range of MCT oil for weight loss (based on the medical review) is 1.7 g to 10 g per day. Bulletproof's MCT oil provides 14 g in one tablespoon, so around two-thirds of one tablespoon should be a maximally-effective dosage.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Wegovy is effective for weight loss, but seems to cause side effects in a significant number of patients based on medical research.

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, so we recommend that patients use Wegovy's pricing page to determine their subsidized cost. The retail price of this drug is well over $1,000 at the time of updating this article.




Illuminate Labs is a proud member of

Liquid error: Could not find asset snippets/search-bar.liquid