What is Ozempic? Why stars risk aging faces for weight-loss drug

It’s the hottest drug in Hollywood.

Ozempic — a medication designed for people with Type 2 diabetes — is being prescribed to socialites and celebrities to help them lose weight despite some alarming potential side effects.

Injected once per week into the stomach, thigh or arm, Ozempic and sister drug Wegovy are comprised of semaglutide, a compound that helps the pancreas release the right amount of insulin when blood sugar levels are high.

“Semaglutide is produced while we eat; it tells the brain that we are full,” Dr. Kathleen H. Saunders, an NYC physician and Weill Cornell Medicine faculty member, told The Post. “It helps people to feel less hungry, to feel full faster, and to stay full longer — but it does so when we are actually less full.”

While the drugs help with long-term weight management for diabetics and those who are obese, Ozempic and Wegovy are now both being used — and abused — by those who need to lose just five or 10 pounds. Wegovy has been shown to help reduce body weight by 15%, while Ozempic helps users shed about 10% of their total mass.

“It’s the drug of choice these days for the 1 percent,” dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank told People, explaining why Ozempic is trending.

What is Ozempic ‘old face’ and what are the other side effects?

While many self-conscious celebs find that Ozempic helps them acquire their dream body, they suddenly find their faces looking older — leading to a vicious cycle of insecurity and injectibles.

Dr. Frank has coined the term “Ozempic face” to describe the deflation and sagging that can occur to a visage after weight loss.

“I see it every day in my office,” Dr. Frank said. “A 50-year-old patient will come in, and suddenly, she’s super-skinny and needs filler, which she never needed before. I look at her and say, ‘How long have you been on Ozempic?’ And I’m right 100% of the time.”

Jennifer Berger, 41, told the New York Times that she lost 20 pounds after being prescribed Ozempic, but it had a detrimental effect on her face.

“I remember looking in the mirror, and it was almost like I didn’t even recognize myself,” she stated. “My body looked great, but my face looked exhausted and old.”

“When it comes to facial aging, fat is typically more friend than foe,” Dr. Oren Tepper told the outlet. “Weight loss may turn back your biological age, but it tends to turn your facial clock forward.”

There are also other side effects that are far from optimal for Ozempic aficionados.

Retired Wall Street exec Beth Rubin lost 19 pounds after taking the drug, but told The Post last year that she was plagued by acid reflux and heartburn for the first five to six weeks.

Given that the drug also makes people feel fuller, Rubin said it was difficult trying to maintain a healthy diet as she initially adjusted to Ozempic.

“I had to push myself to eat. I was not hungry at all. I had to eat slowly and watch my meals. If I ate too much, my doctor told me, I would get sick,” she stated.

Who’s using Ozempic?

Ozempic and Wegovy have entered the mainstream conversation, but it’s still largely the rich and famous who are using the drugs for weight loss purposes. They’re not often covered by insurance and can therefore be extremely pricey.

Dr. Abe Malkin, who works in Los Angeles, has seen people paying $1,300 per month for Wegovy.

“Certain patients in LA want to look good and feel good, and this is a way to maximize the gains when you start a weight-loss program,” he told The Post. “It is effective for people, regardless of the weight, whether you need to lose five pounds or 50.”

Celebs have spoken out about using both Ozempic and Wegovy. Elon Musk last year admitted to using the latter medication to aid with weight loss.

Earlier this month, Chelsea Handler, 47, implied that many in Hollywood were taking the drugs, saying on stage at the Critics’ Choice Awards: “For those of you who don’t know, gaslighting is when someone tries to convince you that your own perceptions of reality are wrong. Like when celebrities say they lost weight by drinking water, but really it’s because everyone’s on Ozempic.”

Speaking on a podcast earlier this week, the comedian claimed that her own doctor had prescribed her Ozempic and that she had injected herself with it without realizing what it was for.

The star said that the drug left her feeling “nauseous” and added that it also left another friend feeling similarly sick.

Handler alleged that she still has the medication at her house, but called it a “miracle [drug]” that is “too good to be true” and “irresponsible” to take.

“I’m not on it anymore,” she clarified. “I’m an irresponsible drug user, but I’m not gonna take a diabetic drug. I tried it, and I’m not gonna do that. That’s not for me. That’s not right for me.”

Meanwhile, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Kyle Richards, 54, has denied trying Ozempic.

“I have never tried Ozempic and this is not from plastic surgery,” she wrote on Page Six’s Instagram account beneath a post that linked to a story about her ripped muscles.

Khloé Kardashian, 37, was recently accused of misusing either Ozempic or Wegovy, with a troll writing beneath one of her Instagram snaps: “The fact that she uses [diabetic] medicine to get this skinny is disturbing.”

Kardashian clapped back — but didn’t explicitly deny that she had ever tried the drugs.

“Let’s not discredit my years of working out. I get up 5 days a week at 6 a.m. to train. Please stop with your assumptions,” the reality star responded. “I guess new year still means mean people.”

Meanwhile, “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Jackie Goldschneider slammed Ozempic, bluntly describing it as “an eating disorder in a needle.”

How the craze is affecting diabetics?

The Hollywood hype surrounding the drugs has caused a shortage for diabetics who are in legitimate need of the medication.

“It’s really frustrating for a lot of patients,” Dr. Gregory Dodell of Central Park Endocrinology told The Post. He explained that some of his diabetic patients have been made to wait several months before getting their prescriptions refilled, causing physical and mental health setbacks.

Manufacturer Novo Nordisk (which manufactures both Wegovy and Ozempic) wrote on its website late last month: “There will be minimal to no supply of the 1 mg strength dose [which is the starter dose] beginning as early as May and continuing into the second half of 2022 when we expect to stabilize supply.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Scott Kahan, director at National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington DC, described Wegovy as “a great medicine,” but, he told The Post, “It is not a miracle drug … And using it for thin people who want to lose a few pounds for a wedding would be inappropriate. Obesity is a medical condition. For people who are 100 pounds overweight, this is an appropriate medication. Over-treating with medication is not medically prudent.”

This content was originally published here.

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