Does Ozempic Cause Saggy Body Skin?
Though it’s been on the market since 2017, the past few months have seen Ozempic reach peak saturation in the cultural conversation. The injectable semaglutide drug made by Novo Nordisk has achieved almost Kleenex and Botox-level name recognition status, having become a shorthand for quick fixes, irresponsible prescribing, drug shortages, and a nasty guessing game of which weight-fluctuating celebrities are on it. Not to mention that the initial purpose of the drug, to help individuals with diabetes regulate insulin production and lower cardiovascular risk factors, has been a godsend for people who have come to rely on it to manage a chronic condition.
As it has been joined by a companion, Wegovy, which is approved for obesity, and competitors like Mounjaro, this class of drugs and their ability to alter health outcomes along with faces and bodies shows no signs of slowing down.
Ozempic Face, the term coined by Dr Paul Jarrod Frank and first reported on in Town & Country, has also become a shorthand to describe the phenomenon by which rapid weight loss causes quick facial volume loss, sending users to their dermatologists faster than you can say nasolabial fold. So it was only a matter of time before matters turned below the neck, begging the question: is there such a thing as an Ozempic Body?
Troy, Michigan-based plastic surgeon Anthony Youn says possibly, but that it’s likely too early to tell if a body on Ozempic looks physically different from any other significant weight loss. Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Sheila Nazarian reports that socially she’s heard talk of Ozempic leading to super skinny arms and visible clavicles and shoulder bones, but that this is likely the case with any dramatic weight reduction. In terms of the skin quality, Youn says “the speed at which weight loss happens can definitely impact how skin bounces back. If you look at the Ozempic studies the weight loss is not as quick as an operation [like gastric sleeve] but it is faster than diet and exercise, and most fad diets.”
In addition to speed, several factors, including age, genetics, diet, and exercise, contribute to how skin elasticity and texture changes with weight loss, which can result in the appearance of wrinkling and loose, crepey skin. “I have some patients who have virtually no loose skin after losing more than 100 pounds and others who have significant loose skin after losing less weight,” says New York obesity medicine physician Katherine Saunders. “It’s highly variable.” She adds that because weight loss includes both fat mass as well as muscle mass, she recommends strength training while on Ozempic or similar medications to preserve as much lean body mass as possible. “Change in body composition affects not only bone health and other aspects of metabolic health, but it also has implications for weight maintenance.”
For patients who have lost weight and want to contour their body but do not require skin removal surgery, there are minimally invasive options. Both Youn and Nazarian mention Morpheus8 and Vivace UltraTM for the body, which uses radiofrequency microneedling to improve skin tightening; as well as BodyTite, which also uses radiofrequency but is applied underneath the skin via a cannula to heat and kill fat and firm skin from the inside out. Nazarian uses these modalities on areas like the neck, arms, inner thighs, inner knees and above the knee caps in conjunction with liposuction to allow her to remove fat and improve skin quality at the same time. But she does notice an increase in surgical requests for procedures like liposuction and tummy tucks from patients across the board. “I feel like the pendulum swung to things like Coolsculpting and now it’s swinging back to surgery,” she says. “It might be a little more expensive but you’re not going to have to wait to see results that are never going to be surgical results.”
Nazarian has even been encouraging some patients to look into Ozempic or Wegovy before booking with her. She points out that there is a certain type of fat, visceral fat, that surrounds the organs, that her scalpel cannot touch. “In order to get that patient the flat stomach they've been dreaming of, they need to lose some weight and I know it's hard over the age of 40, it becomes a whole other beast,” she says. “So if I can use this class of medications or recommend it for them to go discuss it with a primary care doctor that's in their benefit and it's going to make my results look better, just like skincare and lasers make my face lifts look better.”
No matter what injection or pill or procedure patients are exploring, there is no magic bullet to forever health, whatever size and metric that means for you, without lifestyle changes. For those who have used the drugs to deal with smaller amounts of weight and no preexisting conditions, there are many unanswered questions. But for diabetic and obese patients, Ozempic and its ilk may be in their routines for the foreseeable future. “When an individual with hypertension stops an antihypertensive medication, we expect blood pressure to increase. When an individual with diabetes stops an antidiabetic medication, we expect blood sugar to increase. Obesity is no different,” says Saunders. “It’s why anti-obesity medications are FDA-approved for long-term use.”
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