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Semaglutide as a Treatment for Obesity

Obesity is a condition that can quickly worsen as it has links to various illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The best way to counteract it is a rigorous weight loss regimen that includes creating a calorie deficit, frequent physical activity, and weight loss medications like semaglutide, which can be utilized to treat obesity and effectively boost your weight loss results.

So how does semaglutide treat obesity? Whether through subcutaneous semaglutide injection or oral semaglutide, the drug can inhibit your appetite, making it easier to establish and maintain a calorie deficit for easier weight loss. When combined with the right diet and exercise, obese patients can see about a 15 to 20% weight reduction with consistent use.

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How Semaglutide is Introduced in the Body

Semaglutide is a drug categorized as a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA) which mimics a certain hormone that regulates appetite and calorie intake. For weight loss, this is usually done in once-a-week subcutaneous semaglutide injections done by the patient. Subcutaneous means under the skin of the injection site, which is the stomach, thigh, or upper arm.

Recommended Dosage

The recommended dosage for weight loss is 2.4 mg of semaglutide weekly. It takes around 17 weeks or 17 injections to complete a full maintenance dose. The dosage will slowly increase to minimize the severity of any side effects like nausea and diarrhea. Weight loss results may be observed within the first 4 weeks but may take months to fully develop.

Since it’s a hormone-based medication, it must be applied consistently for the treatment to fully work. If a dose is missed and the next one is within the next 48 hours or more, take a dose as soon as possible. Conversely, if the missed dose is less than 48 hours away, skip it and take the next one as scheduled. Consult a doctor once you miss two or more scheduled doses.

Pills vs. Injections

There are also oral semaglutide pills marketed as Rybelsus which are meant to be taken daily. Though it has similar effects, but for patients with type 2 diabetes used it as a maintenance treatment and a supplement to regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure. For those who are obese or overweight, the only option is through subcutaneous semaglutide treatment.

What Science Says on Once Weekly Semaglutide Among Overweight Adults

One of the medical trials that helped toward the drug’s approval for weight management in 2021 was published in The New England Journal of Medicine which observed obese patients taking once weekly does of semaglutide over a 68-week period. The clinical trial was conducted with 1962 adults with an overweight condition — which is defined as having a body-mass index of 30 and greater — and did not have type 2 diabetes. A third of the group was given a placebo.

Results of the Study

The average change from the baseline body weight to the 68 week period of semaglutide injections was about -14.9% compared to the -2.4% from those who took placebo. The total changes in weight loss amounted to -15.3kg in those who took semaglutide treatment and -2.6kg in the placebo group. These results were able to develop with the addition of a lifestyle intervention in the form of vigorous physical activity and diet changes.

Another benefit semaglutide provided was an improvement in cardiometabolic risk factors such as high blood pressure, difficulty in processing glucose, and high amounts of lipid fats as well as a reported boost in physical function compared to the placebo group.

Side Effects

As for the side effects, about 90% of the participants who took semaglutide in the clinical trial experienced some form of side effects which were mostly within the gastrointestinal region experienced by 74.2% of the percentage. The most common of which were nausea and diarrhea. These symptoms were ranging from mild to moderate and faded away with time.

More serious adverse events within the clinical trial occurred in 9.8% of the semaglutide group and 6.4% of the placebo group. Those who took semaglutide treatment were more likely to contract gastrointestinal disorders and hepatobiliary disorders. But only 7.0% of the entire participant group which took semaglutide stopped the treatment due to gastrointestinal difficulties.

The American Diabetes Association also conducted a study on the effect of semaglutide on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in those who are obese or have a high body weight. After 68 weeks of once weekly subcutaneous semaglutide injections at a 2.4mg, overweight or obese patients had their risk of developing type 2 diabetes reduced 60% which may be also influenced by the weight loss it provides.

Best Candidates for Semaglutide Obesity Treatment

The best candidate for 2.4mg once weekly subcutaneous semaglutide treatment are patients who are obese or overweight with

  • a BMI of 27 kg or greater with a health condition to the excess body weight, or 
  • those with a BMI of 30 kg and higher. 

These patients are at the risk of developing heart conditions and other weight-related ailments. Semaglutide treatment can lower the chances of these adverse events through its effects of glycemic control and rapid weight loss. Those who use it to solely manage type 2 diabetes may require a different dosage or product. Consult your healthcare provider to ensure you’re getting the right dosage for your condition and health risks.

The Endocrine Society has cited the landmark study from The New England Journal of Medicine to highlight semaglutide’s safe and effective effect on shedding off excess body weight—making it an effective obesity treatment. Adults with overweight or obesity now have another treatment option to perform weight loss before any health insufficiencies and near-fatal cardiovascular events develop.

It’s for these reasons why semaglutide was used as a weight management treatment last June 2021, 5 years after it was passed as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. In the largest clinical trial for it, in which the average body weight was 105 kg and the average BMI was 38 kg, the participants lost an average of 12.4% of their weight.

The Endocrine Society has advocated for new body weight treatments since 2017 because the obesity epidemic has been growing and accounts for 87% of type 2 diabetes cases. It can be difficult to manage as it takes several months or years of intense weight management to sufficiently treat. With the addition of treatments like subcutaneous semaglutide injections, the efficacy of exercise and diet can increase to provide swift weight loss results.

Other Conditions for Semaglutide Treatment

semaglutide as a treatment for obesity

It should not be taken with other GLP-1 RA like other semaglutide products. It must also not be taken with other weight loss products designed to help quicken weight loss like herbal consumables, other pharmaceutical drugs, and prescription drugs. Consult a doctor if the medicines you are taking for other health conditions may interfere with the treatment. Those who need to take insulin may need to change their dosage with a doctor’s approval to prevent hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels.

Another preventive measure for semaglutide treatment is a boxed warning. Tumor growth was observed in animal testing but was not for humans. Still, those with a personal or family history with thyroid cancer, medullary thyroid carcinoma, or a rare condition called Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 cannot take the drug because it can cause thyroid C-cell tumors.

There is a potential to be allergic to the materials used in the semaglutide injection. If signs of an allergic reaction appear like rashes, redness, or itchiness near the injection site, seek medical attention immediately and don’t take any more injections. Again, consult a doctor if you may be allergic to the semaglutide or other materials in the dosage.

It’s important to note that semaglutide does not bring about weight loss on its own. By suppressing appetite and increasing insulin production in smaller doses, the drug can easily help lower body weight by substantiating already present lifestyle intervention to counteract and prevent the impairing effects of obesity or overweight like type 2 diabetes and heart issues.

Side Effects From Semaglutide Obesity Treatment

As with any drug, there are multiple side effects associated with its usage. This is why the dosage slowly increases after each injection so that the body can better tolerate it. Most of the common side effects go away naturally as the body adapts to the injections and can be eased by other external means. Consult a doctor if these side effects persist or raise to a severe level.

As mentioned earlier, the most common side effects are usually concerned with the gastrointestinal region because the drug modifies how your body processes appetite and, thereby, digestion. In the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the most frequent adverse events were nausea (44.2%), diarrhea (31.5%), vomiting (24.8%), and colds or nasopharyngitis (21.5%).

As subcutaneous semaglutide injections were approved, they list gas buildup or flatulence, headache, indigestion, belching, abdominal pain, dizziness, and gastroenteritis or an infection in the intestinal organs as side effects.

Obese patients with type 2 diabetes may also be at risk for hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels as the treatment may decrease it to dangerous levels. Symptoms for this include shaking, sweating, confusion, anxiety, and hunger. If you are at risk for hypoglycemia, don’t skip meals and ensure you’re following the proper calories intake for your body weight’s current needs.

In rare cases, the treatment may cause damage in certain organs, particularly the gallbladder, kidneys, and pancreas. The drug has yet to be examined in patients with pancreatitis.

The study reported that gallbladder-related disorders, which were mostly cholelithiasis, was reported in 2.6% or in 34 of the 1171 participants who took the drug. Three participants were diagnosed with mild acute pancreatitis—one of which already underwent acute pancreatitis and the other two had gallstones and pancreatitis. Fortunately, all of these adverse events were resolved within the 68-week period of the study.

How to Supplement Semaglutide Obesity Therapy

The best way to ease any potential side effects and maximize the effects of the semaglutide treatment is to follow these steps. Always work with your doctor to manage any adverse events should they come and measure any weight loss progress.

1. Eat a Low-Fat, Low-Calories Diet

Semaglutide treatment is always paired with a diet of easily digestible foods high in nutrients, low in fat, low in carbohydrates, and low in calories. The main rule of thumb is to always eat enough that you are satisfied, and not overfilled. With semaglutide treatment, this will be much easier to accomplish and can be the foundation for weight loss. Try adding foods like beans, salmon or other fatty fish, oatmeal, whole-grain rice, and fruits to your current diet.

2. Maintain an Exercise Routine

Exercise is essential for all forms of weight loss. By creating a calorie deficit, or consuming a less amount of calories your body weight usually needs, physical activity like cardio or weight training can effectively shed off excess fat. Don’t push yourself unnecessarily as it may strain your body. Also, don’t forget to replenish the nutrients from exercising with a healthy snack like a banana or a protein bar to maintain an even blood sugar level.

3. Get a Skinny Dip IV Treatment

If you receive your semaglutide treatment at Dr. V Medical Aesthetics, we can provide you with a Skinny Dip IV Treatment. It can be difficult to combine other weight loss treatments with subcutaneous semaglutide injection. But note that our cocktail of vitamin B-12, Vitamin D, and other lipotropics can naturally boost your body’s metabolism to easily break down stubborn fats when combined with diet and exercise.

Effective Weight Loss Management at Dr. V Medical Aesthetics

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With obesity, other conditions like type 2 diabetes and life-threatening cardiovascular events may come soon. In cases of obesity class 2 and higher, instantaneous weight loss can happen with direct surgery. With semaglutide, the path to effective weight loss can be made easier and safe with the right medical provider.

At Dr. V Medical Aesthetics, our semaglutide treatment can help you manage diabetes and its side effects on your weight. We know how to best incorporate semaglutide in your current lifestyle for efficient and safe diabetes treatments with weight loss benefits. Contact us at +1 850-724-0800 or book an appointment online.

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