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What Are Semaglutide and Ozempic Injections?

What Are Semaglutide and Ozempic Injections?

Medical Weight loss
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Lauren Nawrocki

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Lauren Nawrocki

Dr. Nawrocki splits her time between a local hospital, teaching at a university, and offering advanced treatments like anti-aging and IV nutrient therapies at Green Relief Health in Baltimore. She personally attends to each patient for various services and is certified in Botox, Dysport, Medical Weight Loss, and Dermal Fillers, as well as IV nutrient therapy. Dr. Nawrocki is a member of the AAFE, AAAM, and IFM.

With over 70% of adults in the United States being overweight or obese, maintaining a healthy weight is a struggle for many. An excess of weight can lead to an increased risk of numerous health conditions like heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. 

While diet and exercise should be the foundation of any weight loss plan, that is not enough for some people. That’s why medications like Semaglutide or Ozempic are game-changers for weight loss and improving health.

Semaglutide or Ozempic are two names for the same injectable weight loss medication that works by mimicking a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). This hormone helps control appetite and blood sugar. 

The medication is approved for the long-term treatment of weight in adults who are either obese or overweight with a minimum of one health condition associated with weight.  When combined with lifestyle changes, it is proven to result in considerable and sustained weight loss, positively impacting overall health.

How Do They Work

Semaglutide or Ozempic helps with weight loss in a few key ways:

Suppressing Appetite

This medication activates areas of the brain that reduce appetite, helping you feel fuller sooner and longer after eating. People report decreased food cravings and hunger pangs. This makes it easier to reduce portion sizes and calories.

Slowing Digestion

It slows stomach emptying so your body digests food more slowly. This enhances feelings of fullness, too.

Balancing Blood Sugar

By mimicking GLP-1, Semaglutide or Ozempic helps balance blood sugar levels, which also impacts appetite control and food cravings. This proves to be particularly helpful for people managing conditions like prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Changing Eating Behaviors

As the medication promotes feelings of fullness, people tend to eat smaller portions and make healthier food choices. Over time, this conditioning can lead to positive changes in eating behaviors.

What Are The Benefits

In addition to significant weight loss (15% on average compared to placebo in studies), Semaglutide or Ozempic offers several meaningful health benefits:

  • Reduced risk for weight-related conditions like diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea and more
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Decreased body fat and smaller waist circumference
  • Improved energy and ability to be more active
  • Better blood sugar control in people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
  • Increased motivation to eat healthy and exercise

These changes can translate into a substantially improved quality of life. People report being able to be more active with family and friends, improved self-confidence, decreased joint pain, better mobility, more restful sleep and reduced health care costs associated with obesity-related illness.

What About Side Effects

As with most medications, Semaglutide or Ozempic may cause some side effects, especially when first starting treatment. The most common side effects are mild to moderate gastrointestinal issues like:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Decreased appetite

For most people, these gastrointestinal side effects subside within 4-8 weeks as the body adjusts. Having the medication with food can also be beneficial in decreasing nausea.

People with a personal or family history of certain endocrine tumors should not use these medications. That is why this drug is only available through prescription after a thorough medical evaluation.

How Often Is It Given

Semaglutide or Ozempic are administered once weekly using a subcutaneous injection technique involving an injection just below the skin’s surface, typically in the thigh or abdomen. 

Often, people start at a low dose, which is gradually increased over 3-4 weeks to help the body adapt and minimize side effects. Maintenance dosing enables the weight loss effects to continue over time, provided the medication is taken consistently.

Who Is A Good Candidate For This Medication

Semaglutide or Ozempic may be an appropriate medical weight loss treatment option for patients who:

  • Have a BMI ≥ 27 
  • Have undertaken substantial efforts in weight loss through diet, exercise, and behavior changes but have not been successful in long-term
  • Are ready and motivated to continue lifestyle interventions alongside medication
  • Do not have any major health issues or medication interactions that would make these drugs unsafe.

This injectable is not intended for short-term, rapid weight loss. Rather, it is specifically designed for chronic, long-term weight management combined with lifestyle therapy. The effects persist only as long as the medication is continued.

What About Cost And Insurance Coverage

Semaglutide or Ozempic is an expensive prescription brand-name drug, so insurance coverage varies quite a bit. Those with private insurance plans may face high copays or deductibles. Medicare Part D and Medicaid may offer better coverage, but policies differ by state.

There are some ways to reduce costs, like enrolling in prescription savings plans or exploring pharmaceutical company discount programs for eligible patients. 

Compassionate care and financial assistance programs also exist to provide medications at low or no cost based on financial need.

It is a good idea to check with your specific health plan to better understand coverage details for weight loss medications. Cost should also be discussed upfront with the prescribing doctor so appropriate treatment decisions can be made jointly.

What Happens After Stopping Treatment

Like most chronic health conditions, ongoing maintenance is required for sustained results. When Semaglutide or Ozempic treatment stops, appetite suppression effects go away. 

Most people regain some weight gradually over 6-12 months after discontinuing use unless significant lifestyle changes have been made.

That said, research indicates that the majority of weight loss is still maintained 1-2 years later. Some studies found patients maintained 9-12% weight loss two years out. This likely reflects the positive impacts these medications can have on eating behaviors over time.

They may motivate patients to stick with lifestyle changes moving forward by spurring initial weight reduction. Working closely with a comprehensive weight loss program provides the tools and support needed for continued success when ready to transition off medication.

Getting Started With Semaglutide or Ozempic Treatment

Getting started with prescription weight loss medication requires seeing a licensed provider. Treatment should only be prescribed by obesity medicine specialists or weight loss providers familiar with these drugs. They will:

  • Thoroughly review medical history and perform an exam to ensure safety
  • Check for potential medication interactions
  • Monitor key health indicators like blood pressure, blood sugar, kidney function, etc
  • Prescribe medication and provide explicit dosing instructions
  • Have patients sign consent forms demonstrating an understanding of the risks and benefits
  • Introduce lifestyle interventions for nutrition, physical activity, and behavior change
  • Closely follow patient progress with regular office visits
  • Make dose adjustments as needed to optimize results and tolerability
  • Provide support for medication administration questions or side effect management
  • Discuss long-term weight maintenance plans for preserving weight loss success

Following provider instructions closely while taking an active role in complementary lifestyle efforts generally leads to the best experience and outcomes with a medication like Semaglutide or Ozempic. 

Working in partnership with an expert healthcare team provides the structure, guidance, and support needed to transform health over the long run.

How Do I get Semaglutide or Ozempic in Baltimore?

A medical weight loss center like Green Relief Health can help you get scheduled with Semaglutide or Ozempic injections for weight loss in Baltimore if you’re interested. Semaglutide or Ozempic will be prescribed based on your medical history.

Once you have a prescription for Semaglutide or Ozempic, you can get the medication at a pharmacy or from the medical weight loss clinic. Following the Green Relief Health dosing instructions carefully will help you monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan as necessary.


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