Wegovy is a relatively new medication that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat obesity.
It has grown in popularity and is becoming a common injectable medication to help people lose weight.
This article will explain everything you need to know about Wegovy and if it’s appropriate for you.
What is Wegovy?
Wegovy is a brand-name medication with the active ingredient semaglutide. It is produced by Novo Nordisk.
Wegovy falls under the drug class of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists.
It helps people in a variety of ways, including:
- Better blood sugar level management
- Lower A1C levels
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Fighting insulin resistance
- And weight loss
However, it is only approved as a weight loss drug and is not considered a diabetes medication.
It is an injectable medication, available only by prescription and administered once weekly.
What are the benefits of Wegovy?
There are many benefits to taking Wegovy, including:
Wegovy is shown to help aid in substantial weight loss.
In studies, Wegovy causes weight loss in patients by decreasing appetite and slowing digestion.
By doing so, it stops the liver from releasing glucagon and prevents spikes in blood sugar levels while improving insulin sensitivity.
In one study, adult participants taking Wegovy lost 15% of their starting weight on average.
In a separate study, adolescents taking Wegovy lost 16% of their starting weight on average.
Improved insulin sensitivity
Wegovy improves blood sugar levels, A1C, and insulin sensitivity.
The STEP 2 trial looked at Wegovy’s effects on blood sugars and A1Cs in people who have type 2 diabetes.
The researchers found that participants taking the medication not only lost weight but saw statistically significant improvements in their blood sugars and A1C levels as well.
Even if you don’t have diabetes or prediabetes, taking Wegovy can help insulin resistance and improve your blood sugar levels.
This could delay or even prevent the development of diabetes in the future.
Lower cardiovascular risk
Semaglutide (the active ingredient in Wegovy) has been proven to reduce the risk of major heart attack, stroke, or death in adults with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
In the study, semaglutide-treated patients lowered their risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack, and stroke by 26%!
Why would you be prescribed Wegovy?
Wegovy is FDA-approved as a treatment for obesity, weight loss, and chronic weight management. It may lower blood sugar levels and improve A1C, but Wegovy is not a diabetes medication.
Not everyone who wants to take Wegovy will be able to get a prescription.
People must meet certain body mass index (BMI) criteria to become eligible for Wegovy, including people who have a BMI of 30 or higher.
You may also qualify for Wegovy if your BMI is 27 and you have one or more weight-related medical conditions, such as high cholesterol, hypertension, or type 2 diabetes.
Wegovy is approved for chronic weight management in people 12 years and older.
To qualify for Wegovy, the adolescent must have a BMI at or above the 95 percentile for their age and sex.
People who do not qualify for Wegovy may qualify for another GLP-1 medication like Ozempic. Especially if they live with type 2 diabetes and are struggling with insulin resistance.
Talk with your doctor if you’re curious about taking Wegovy or Ozempic.
What are the side effects?
Many people experience mild to moderate side effects when taking Wegovy, especially when they first start taking the medication.
These common side effects include:
- Stomach pain
- Weight loss
- Low blood sugar, if you take insulin
Although rare, more severe complications may include:
- Thyroid tumors, including cancer
- Changes in vision (worsening of diabetic retinopathy)
- Kidney problems
- Serious allergic reactions
Several of these more severe side effects can lead to health complications and death.
Call your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you:
- Develop a fever
- Experience changes or worsening of your vision
- Feel weak or in pain after taking the medication
- Think you may be having an allergic reaction to the medication
Seek emergency medical attention if you’re experiencing severe low blood sugar levels and you cannot keep sugar down in the form of food or beverages.
Severe low blood sugar can be fatal if not treated quickly.
What is the correct dose?
There are many different Wegovy doses available.
The amount you take will depend on a few factors, including your height and weight, health goals, lifestyle, and health history.
Wegovy comes in the following doses:
- A Wegovy pen for giving a 0.25 mg weekly dose (for the start of treatment)
- A Wegovy pen for giving a 0.50 mg weekly dose
- A Wegovy pen for giving a 1 mg weekly dose
- A Wegovy pen for giving a 1.7 mg weekly dose
- A Wegovy pen for giving a 2.4 mg weekly dose (the maximum weekly dose)
Each pen operates the same as the others, the only difference between them being the different pre-measured dosing sizes.
Each pen is designed to give only a single weekly dose.
Never take more Wegovy than you are prescribed. If you overdose on Wegovy, you may experience adverse side effects.
How much Wegovy should I take?
Your doctor will help you determine the right dose of Wegovy for you. It will vary depending on your health history, goals, lifestyle, height, and weight.
There is no “typical” or “normal” dose.
The FDA’s approval is for patients to start with a low dose of 0.25 mg per week and gradually escalate over time until they achieve desired weight loss or weight maintenance.
The maximum weekly dose is 2.4 mg, administered once per week.
This is the dose that most patients will eventually reach, depending on their tolerance of the medication, the efficacy of treatment, and the severity of the side effects they’re experiencing.
What happens if I take too much Wegovy?
Never take Wegovy more than once per week.
However, if you accidentally take too much Wegovy, you may experience adverse side effects such as:
- Debilitating nausea
- Stomach pain
- And even low blood sugar—especially if you’re also on insulin which can become fatal if not treated immediately.
Call your doctor or seek emergency medical attention immediately if you’ve accidentally taken too much Wegovy.
I missed a dose of Wegovy. What now?
This is completely okay, and missing a dose of Wegovy every once in a while will not harm you, make you gain weight, or worsen your blood sugar levels.
However, Wegovy is most effective when it is taken consistently.
If you miss a dose of Wegovy, it is okay to take it a few days late.
However, if you missed your dose more than five days ago, just skip that week’s dose and take your regularly scheduled dose on time.
How to inject Wegovy
Check your Wegovy pen before injecting. If there are any particles or discoloration present in the medication, do not use the pen. It may have expired or the medication may have gone bad.
Before injecting, clean the injection site with rubbing alcohol.
Rotate injection sites each week to prevent injuries and the development of scar tissue.
Wegovy is typically injected under the skin in the thigh, abdomen, or upper arm.
Talk to your doctor about the best places for you to inject and how to rotate injection sites.
Who shouldn’t take Wegovy?
Do not take Wegovy unless you’ve been prescribed the medication.
It is not recommended for use if you are pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding.
Do not use Wegovy (or any other medication containing semaglutide) if you or any of your family members have ever had medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or if you have Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).
Do not use Wegovy if you are allergic to semaglutide.
If you’re interested in trying a GLP-1 agonist but you’re allergic to semaglutide, you may opt for Victoza—whose active ingredient is liraglutide.
How can I stop taking Wegovy?
You may wish to stop taking Wegovy for many reasons, and that is fine. However, you will not want to stop the medication cold turkey.
Make sure you talk with your doctor before stopping any diabetes medication, including Wegovy. Your doctor will probably want you to wean your dose instead of stopping treatment abruptly.
Insulin resistance, food cravings, blood sugar levels, and weight may creep back up once you stop taking Wegovy.
On average, people gain back about 2/3rds of the weight they originally lost one year after stopping treatment with GLP-1 medications containing semaglutide.
You may wish to talk to your doctor about an alternative medication, exercise, or diet plan to help combat any rebound effects you may experience if you decide to stop taking Wegovy.
Does Wegovy replace insulin?
No. If you take Wegovy and you’re insulin-dependent, you can not stop taking your insulin once you start this weekly injection.
Your blood sugar levels may be lower over time, but unlike insulin, Wegovy does not cause acute low blood sugar levels.
If you normally take insulin for diabetes management, you will need to continue to do so.
If you’ve been on Wegovy for several months, you may notice that your insulin needs are gradually decreasing, but this rarely, if ever, completely takes away the need to take insulin.
How do I store Wegovy?
Ideally, Wegovy should be stored in the refrigerator between 36°F to 46°F in the original box to protect it from light.
It can be used for up to 56 days after opening.
If needed, it can be stored outside the refrigerator with the pen cap still on for up to 28 days (between 46°F to 86°F.)
Never freeze your Wegovy pens or put them in direct sunlight or high heat.
How do I get a prescription for Wegovy?
Talk to your doctor if you wish to get a prescription for Wegovy.
Your doctor should be able to write you a prescription to try the medication if you meet the BMI requirements or are overweight and have a qualifying chronic condition.
If you do not qualify for Wegovy but are looking to lose weight, your doctor may be able to recommend other FDA-approved weight loss medications that may be a better fit for you.
Can I take Wegovy with my diabetes medications?
This will depend on what your other diabetes medications are.
Wegovy should not be combined with any other GLP-1 medications such as Ozempic, Victoza, Trulicity, or Mounjaro.
The active ingredient semaglutide can be taken in combination with metformin, insulin, or other medications. Just be sure to ask your doctor before doing so.
Finally, make sure your doctor knows of every other medication you take before starting Wegovy.