Ozempic face: an undesirable side effect

Ozempic, a brand name for the drug semaglutide, is an antidiabetic agent used to treat type 2 diabetes. Part of the class of drugs known as GLP-1 receptor agonists, Ozempic has a noticeable side effect that can cause visible changes in appearance, often referred to as ‘Ozempic face’. These changes can affect users’ facial structure. In this blog we will discuss what exactly Ozempic is, how it works in the body, and what impact it can have on appearance, in addition to affecting blood sugar levels.

Ozempic (semaglutide) is an innovative medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes, a condition in which the body cannot effectively use insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. This drug belongs to a class of drugs known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. These medications mimic the effect of a naturally occurring hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is important for blood sugar regulation.

The effect of Ozempic is twofold. First, it stimulates the pancreas to release more insulin, especially when blood sugar levels are high after a meal. This helps to reduce spikes in blood sugar levels, which is important for managing diabetes. Second, Ozempic slows gastric emptying, a process by which food moves from the stomach to the small intestine. Slowing down this process prolongs the feeling of fullness, which can contribute to a decrease in appetite.

This delay in gastric emptying has another potential benefit: it may indirectly contribute to weight loss. By reducing appetite and prolonging the feeling of satiety, people may eat less, leading to a calorie deficit and ultimately weight loss.

Ozempic Hollow Face

A significant and notable side effect of the drug is the Ozempic facial. This phenomenon is mainly caused by the significant weight loss, including substantial fat loss in the face. These changes can result in a more sunken appearance of the face, which can sometimes give an older-looking effect. The decrease in subcutaneous fat contributes to a more defined jawline and prominent cheekbones.

Furthermore, the loss of fat around the cheeks and under the eyes can make the skin there less firm, highlighting previously invisible fine lines and wrinkles. The skin, which was previously filled with fat, can become sagging, contributing to the accelerated appearance of signs of aging. This is especially noticeable in areas where the skin is naturally thinner, such as under the eyes and along the jawline.


Unexpected features visible on your face:

  • Increased signs of aging, such as more lines and wrinkles
  • Loss of fat, which can lead to sagging and loose skin
  • A sunken, hollow appearance

These aesthetic changes are obviously undesirable for some patients and can adversely affect their self-image and emotional well-being.

The changes may depend on the dosage of the drug, the individual response to treatment, and the person’s overall body composition. Users may begin to notice changes in their body weight and facial contours within weeks to months of starting treatment. In some cases it may take longer depending on their body’s response to the drug and any adjustments made to their diet and lifestyle.

Anecdotal reports suggest that significant weight loss and associated facial changes usually occur between 3 and 6 months after beginning treatment. However, it is important to emphasize that not everyone who takes Ozempic will experience significant weight loss or facial changes, as the effects can be very individual.

Treating or reducing the changes caused by ‘Ozempic face’ may require multiple approaches depending on the specific symptoms and patient preferences. Here are some appropriate measures that can be considered:

Nutritional advice: Because weight loss is one of the causes of “Ozempic face,” it may be helpful to work with a dietitian or nutritionist to create a nutrition plan that will help stabilize or manage weight in a healthy way. This can help maintain the amount of facial fat and minimize further facial changes.

Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Treatments: For those who experience significant changes in their facial structure, such as loss of volume or increased appearance of wrinkles, cosmetic procedures such as fillers or fat grafts can help. These treatments can add volume to the face and reduce the appearance of sunken cheeks or deep lines.

Skin care: Intensive moisturizing and conditioning treatments can also help improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Products with hyaluronic acid, peptides, Bakuchiol, Vitamin C, E, Retinol and moisturizing ingredients can improve the skin structure.

Medical reconsideration: If the aesthetic changes have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life, reconsideration of the medication with the treating physician may be necessary. There may be other medications or dosage reductions that have less impact on weight and facial structure.

Healthy lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, adequate nutrition and hydration, can also help support skin health and offset any negative effects of medication-induced weight loss.

Psychological support: Because changes in appearance can be emotionally taxing, support from a psychologist or a support group can be valuable. This assistance can help patients adapt to their changed appearance and improve their self-image.

Patients who took 50 mg of the drug semaglutide by mouth every week were more likely to report various unusual sensations in their skin. Examples include dysesthesia, which means abnormal sensations such as tingling (1.8% versus 0%), hyperesthesia, increased skin sensitivity (1.2% versus 0%), and common skin pain (2.4% versus 0% ). Also, paresthesia, a feeling of tickling or itching for no apparent reason, and skin hypersensitivity both occurred in 2.7% of these patients, which was not the case in those who took a fake drug (placebo) or a similar product.

In addition, these patients were more likely to report hair loss, also known as alopecia (6.9% versus 0.3%). At a lower dose of the drug (2.4 mg administered subcutaneously, meaning under the skin), only 0.2% reported hair loss, compared to 0.5% among placebo users.

There were also more reports of unspecified skin reactions (4.1% versus 1.5%) in patients taking the subcutaneous form of semaglutide. Some reports described serious cases of skin problems such as bullous pemphigoid, a serious skin disease with blisters, eosinophilic fasciitis, a rare disease that causes the skin to become tight and stiff, and leukocytoclastic vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels.

In contrast, injection site reactions, such as pain or swelling, were less common in people who received semaglutide under the skin (3.5%) compared to those who received a placebo or similar product (6.7%).

Although Ozempic provides an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes with the added benefit of weight loss, it is important that patients are aware of the potential aesthetic changes it can cause, including the ‘Ozempic face’. An interesting question that remains and which will be clarified in the future is whether this effect is the direct result of the medication itself or of the rapid weight loss?

Consultation with a medical specialist can help to fully understand the benefits and possible side effects of the drug and to find a treatment that is both effective for diabetes control and acceptable to the patient in terms of changes in appearance.

Skin rejuvenation is a popular topic in the cosmetic sector, where people are continuously looking for methods to alleviate the signs of aging without surgical intervention.

As time goes on, factors such as sunlight, pollution, stress and heredity contribute to the development of wrinkles, fine lines, sagging skin and uneven skin tone. This natural aging process is inevitable, but fortunately there are various non-invasive treatments available. These modern cosmetic options reduce the visible signs of skin aging and help the skin maintain its youthful appearance. Would you like to know more about: Skin rejuvenation, are there non-invasive cosmetic treatments available?

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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