Experts Warn The Rise Of Ozempic Could Have Lasting Consequences - Exclusive

Ozempic is the brand name for a drug called semaglutide, a once-weekly injection approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat Type II diabetes. But like many drugs that are appropriated for off-label use (spironolactone, the high-blood pressure drug some use to treat acne, comes to mind), Ozempic has been heralded as a miracle solution for those looking to quickly lose weight. Between the pervasive pressures of diet culture, beauty standards that propagate thinness over everything, and the ensuing stigmas surrounding fat people, it is no wonder that the lunge for weight loss products continues to this day. As such, the off-label use of Ozempic for weight loss has soared — so much so, that it has caused a shortage of the drug, creating stress for diabetic patients who depend on the medication for survival. And with the rise of telehealth, its easier to obtain the drug than ever before.  

Experts are concerned, however, both for the individuals using the drug unsupervised, and for the larger social stratum, that this fad could have lasting consequences. spoke exclusively with two different experts, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Glenn Vallecillos, and psychologist Dr. Carolyn Rubenstein, to get a deeper look into the demand for Ozempic and its potentially dark drawbacks. 

Ozempic entails medical risks

Ozempic works by producing more insulin during bouts of high blood pressure, helping the liver regulate sugar, and slowing down the process of food transfer to the intestine, according to the drug's official website. The overall effect is that one feels fuller for longer, and is thus less inclined to eat. When taken under the supervision of a doctor, Ozempic can be used as a tool, rather than the end-all treatment for weight-loss, board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Glenn Vallecillos exclusively tells He explains a typical weight-loss regiment could include "education and coaching on proper eating habits and nutrition, exercise, and weight goals." For those struggling to lose weight even after implementing those steps, Ozempic can be life-changing. Vox highlighted several Ozempic patients with obesity who said taking it alleviated the stress of traditional dieting. 

However, Dr. Vallecillos warns that without proper guidance, patients could see negative side effects to using the drug. "Some of these patients have lost extraordinary amounts of weight, to the point where they looked physically unhealthy, emaciated, with a gross loss of lean body mass," he said. He noted some patients are not just losing fat, but also muscle, a concerning fact because muscle mass is critical to one's overall health. Patients who do not properly manage coming off of Ozempic may also regain up to two-thirds of the weight the lost, Dr. Vallecillos cautions. Anecdotal evidence described by Ozempic users to The Cut also points to the weight loss drug's outright dangerous side effects. 

Ozempic sends the wrong message

Despite the risks of Ozempic, the mental, emotional, and physical pressures of being fat in a world that discriminates against fat people can be overwhelming. Even amidst a growing body positivity movement, the drug promises to be a potential respite from societal standards for those struggling with their weight.

However, psychologist Dr. Carolyn Rubenstein warns against the temptations of quick-fix solutions. Speaking exclusively to, she said, "The idea of quick-fix solutions for weight loss can reinforce the harmful notion that weight loss is simply a matter of personal willpower." It frames fatness as a personal "problem," one that is exacerbated by the proliferation of potential "solutions" that may or may not be accessible (NPR says a monthly supply of Ozempic costs $1400 dollars.) And yet, no one is calling Ozempic a fad diet because doctors are prescribing it and because many people have found it genuinely benefit their health. But given its simultaneous popularity among celebrities who are using it for looks purposes, concerns of it encouraging people to conflate thinness with health aren't unfounded. Diet culture might change its shape — TikTok even restricted advertising on diet products due to its negative effects on young people — but the message stays the same.

Still, there should be no shame in seeking weight loss treatment. "In reality, weight management is a complex issue that is influenced by a range of factors, such as lifestyle, mental health, access to resources, and physical health," Dr. Rubenstein says. However, the normalization of using a drug like Ozempic to achieve it can reinforce the belief that weight loss is something that needs medical intervention, rather than a personal choice.