Medications used to combat type 2 diabetes have exploded in popularity as rapid weight loss drugs, but people are now reporting unwanted side effects including facial aging and vomiting.
The drugs – which include brands like Ozempic, Mounjaro and Wegovy – have been trending on social media after several celebrities and influencers were rumored to have used them to slim down, including Kim Kardashian and Elon Musk.
But many doctors worry that the popularity has resulted in more people taking them without sufficient medical supervision, which can be risky as there is a possibility of rare but serious side effects like thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, and kidney failure.
More common side effects – as many women are documenting on TikTok – are nausea, vomiting, and facial aging, which has been dubbed as ‘Ozempic face.’
Medications – like Ozempic – that are used to combat type 2 diabetes are trending on social media for quick weight loss – but some are reporting side effects like facial aging and vomiting
Dr Daniel Dziabas posts an animation of an ‘Ozempic face’ shriveling from use of the drug
Jennifer Berger, 41, told The New York Times that she used Mounjaro to lose weight following her pregnancy. The drug, which she injected in her thigh, stomach, or arm, worked beautifully and she was able to lose 20 pounds.
But she said that her face had started to look very gaunt.
‘I remember looking in the mirror, and it was almost like I didn’t even recognize myself,’ she told the Times. ‘My body looked great, but my face looked exhausted and old.’
Dr. Oren Tepper, a New York-based plastic surgeon, told the Times that it’s common for key areas of the face to deflate with weight loss – so much that that person looks older.
‘When it comes to facial aging, fat is typically more friend than foe,’ he said. ‘Weight loss may turn back your biological age, but it tends to turn your facial clock forward.’
Mounjaro, which regulates blood sugar, suppresses appetite and apparently helps shed the extra pounds, is the latest ask on the market.
‘Everybody is either on it or asking how to get on it,’ said Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a dermatologist in New York told the Times. ‘We haven’t seen a prescription drug with this much cocktail and dinner chatter since Viagra came to the market.’
Dr. Frank said he coined the term ‘Ozempic face’ to describe the condition of the sagging face.
‘I see it every day in my office,’ he explained. ‘A 50-year-old patient will come in, and suddenly, she’s super-skinny and needs filler, which she never needed before. I look at her and say, ‘How long have you been on Ozempic?’ And I’m right 100 percent of the time. It’s the drug of choice these days for the 1 percent.’
Ozempic works to suppress the appetite and makes the stomach feel fuller for longer
One woman on TikTok talked about her journey with the injections and said that it made her bloated, gassy and she was ‘not OK’
Another posted a video of themselves in a towel saying that vomited while in the shower
There are procedures to restore volume in a patient’s face, the Times reported, with doctors performing super pricey but noninvasive injections of Radiesse and hyaluronic acid-based fillers or Sculptra, which stimulates collagen.
Fat can also be transferred from other parts of the body to act as filler in the face.
Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, a dermatologist in New York told The Times that the ‘idea is to balance the face to offset the hollowing and downward projections at the cheeks, jowls and other areas’.
‘We are seeing more and more patients on the medications coming in,’ he said. ‘Generally, it’s people in their 40s and 50s who are losing significant amounts of weight and are concerned about facial aging and sagging that occurs as a result.’
Everyone from Hollywood stars to tech moguls are turning to the injectable drug to stay slim, with Elon Musk crediting the drug in October for his recent weight loss.
Kim Kardashian is rumored to have used Wegovy to rapidly lose weight in order to fit in Marilyn Monroe’s famous ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ dress that she wore to the 2022 Met Gala.
Everyone from Hollywood stars to tech moguls are turning to the injectable drug to stay slim, with Elon Musk crediting the drug in October for his recent weight loss. Pictured above, Elon Musk in August 2022. Jeremy Clarkson, 62, has revealed he has begun injecting himself with the ‘tremendous’ drug, Ozempic, after fearing he could develop type 2 diabetes. Pictured above, Mr Clarkson in 2017
Kim Kardashian is rumored to have used Wegovy to rapidly lose weight in order to fit in Marilyn Monroe’s famous ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ dress at the 2022 Met Gala (pictured)
Since the drugs have exploded in popularity, doctors are warning against DIY weight-loss injections at home with raw chemicals bought online.
People are being driven to websites normally used by research groups to buy experimental chemicals amid a nationwide shortage of Wegovy and Ozempic.
But Dr Shauna Levy, an assistant professor of bariatric surgery at Tulane University in New Orleans, who sits on the American Board of Obesity Medicine, toldtaking the medication at home is ‘incredibly unsafe on so many levels’ and puts people at risk of side effects, unsafe ingredients and overdosing.
The websites – which often included words like ‘laboratory’ or ‘asylum’ in their title – sell a range of research chemicals, including hormones and steroids, which they state are ‘not for human consumption’.
A global shortage of the drug was caused last year by a celebrity and influencer-fueled stampede, imperiling people who rely on it to treat their type 2 diabetes and leaving semaglutide out of stock even on some peptide supplier websites
Listings for many of the chemicals state they are only to be purchased for scientific research purposes – a warning that allows the sites to exploit a legal loophole.
DailyMail.com also found semaglutide on 10 sites. It was sold in powder form, to be mixed with bacteriostatic water before being injected into the abdomen.
Wegovy became highly sought-after since it first became available in the US last year, after it showed the ability to drop a person’s body weight by around 15 percent over 68 weeks in clinical trials.
But its popularity, combined with manufacturing issues, led to month-long shortages of both Novo’s Wegovy and its sister drug Ozempic.
Tirzepatide, another diabetes medication sold under the brand name Mounjaro by Eli Lilly, also fell into short supply, according to the FDA’s online drug shortage database.
Wegovy and Ozempic work by triggering the body to produce a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 that is released naturally from the intestines after meals.
Wegovy and Ozempic work by triggering the body to produce a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 that is released naturally from the intestines after meals
The hormone helps control blood sugar and makes people feel full so they know when to stop eating.
Results from a study of 2,000 people over 15 months show participants lost 15 percent of their body weight on average, equating to (34lbs) (15kg).
The group received individual counseling sessions from registered dietitians to help them stick to a reduced-calorie diet and exercise plan, alongside the weekly injections.
Volunteers reported improved quality of life and reduced risk factors for developing heart disease and diabetes, such as reduced waist circumference, blood fats, blood sugar, and blood pressure.