(NEXSTAR) – The diabetes drug Semaglutide sparked a weight loss craze as people realized it could be used to lose weight quickly when prescribed off-label.
Semaglutide is better known by the brand names it is marketed under, such as Ozempic and Wegovy. Tirzepatide, marketed as Mounjaro, has been making a lot of noise for the same reasons. But enthusiasm for the drugs has led to a shortage, as well as patients reporting unexpected side effects.
One of these side effects has been described as “Ozempic face”. Rapid weight loss can leave some patients’ faces sunken, saggy and rapidly aged.
“When it comes to facial aging, fat is usually more friend than foe,” plastic surgeon Dr. Oren Tepper told The New York Times. “Weight loss may set your biological age back, but it tends to move your facial clock forward.”
“One of the most common things I notice with any form of weight loss in middle-aged and older patients is that we don’t all lose it in the areas we want,” Dr. Paul said. Jarrod Frank in an interview with TODAY. “As we age, facial volume definitely changes and shifts. But when you lose weight so acutely and rapidly, you see more of an overall facial loss.
This “facial atrophy” is what can suddenly make a person look much older.
To treat the so-called “Ozempic face,” some patients turn to another medical procedure: injecting dermal fillers to make their face look fuller.
Dr Dhaval Bhanusali told The Times that he has seen an increase in patients seeking fillers after dramatic weight loss from Ozempic or Mounjaro. “Typically, it’s people in their 40s and 50s who lose a lot of weight and worry about the resulting aging and sagging face.”
Ozempic and Mounjaro were originally used to treat type 2 diabetes. The injections have been shown to improve blood sugar and heart function, but doctors have recently started prescribing them to help patients lose weight.
Both drugs have more serious side effects, including possible inflammation of the pancreas, vision changes, low blood sugar, kidney and gallbladder problems, and a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer.
Medicines aren’t cheap either. Unless you can get it covered by insurance, they cost around $1,000 for a month’s supply.
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