Whether it’s that person you see in your gym class who seemed to magically drop 15 pounds or the coworker who is on a more significant weight loss journey, the tool everyone seems to be buzzing about these days is semaglutide (Ozempic and Wegovy) injections. These medications are helping people lose weight via both on- and off-label uses, however, the successful slimming is not without side effects. ‘Ozempic Face’ and ‘Ozempic Body’ are the terms being used to describe the loss of volume and skin laxity that may accompany the use of these drugs.
Ozempic and Wegovy are the branded names of a peptide called semaglutide. Ozempic was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 to treat type II diabetes in adults, and Wegovy was FDA approved in 2021 for chronic weight management in overweight or obese adults. Both Ozempic and Wegovy are once-weekly injections under the skin of the thigh, upper arm, or abdomen. Semaglutide is part of a class of medications called GLP-1 agonists, which ensure the pancreas releases sufficient insulin when blood glucose levels are high, as well as delay gastric emptying, leading to a person feeling full.
With any form of rapid weight loss, there are positives and negatives. Our metabolic health improves, including diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver and high cholesterol. However, with quick weight loss, people lose volume in the face and skin becomes looser. This is even noticeable after losing 5-10 pounds, but is more pronounced with over 20 pound weight loss, or if someone is over 40. The facial volume loss occurs in key structural areas like the cheek and temples, as well as sagging skin along the jawline and neck. This effect is also seen on the body, especially the abdomen, breasts, upper arms and upper legs.
There are many modalities on the market that have the ability to firm the skin and add volume. They include, fillers, radiofrequency, microneedling, ultrasound, energy, and laser to name a few. Most of these procedures involve needles or have significant downtime and healing. The only device on the market currently that is completely non-invasive is the EmFace. It combines radiofrequency with electrical stimulation of the facial muscles using HIFES (high intensity focused electromagnetic stimulation) energy, which leads improved in sagging skin as well as increasing muscle tone and improve volume. Studies have shown an average 37% reduction in wrinkles, 30% increase in facial muscle tone, and 23% lifting effect. It has been shown to be eqiuvalent to 1.5 ml of Hyaluronic Acid in the cheeks, leading to increase in volume. It is a great foundational procedure for which further treatments can be based on.
All of these procedures are for naught, if you are not taking care of your skin. The keys to good skin care include cleansing, skin rejuvination (including Hyaluronic acid serums and vitamin C), as well as retinols, skin moisturization and sun protection. Dr Perkins usually recommends using Alastin Skincare Products. Alastin is a physician-dispensed skincare brand that offers scientifically-backed products. The company was founded in 2015 and is one of the only skin care companies that performs scientific clinical studies. Alastin Skincare products have been shown to enhance the deposition of both elastin and collagen, improve skin texture, as well as improve wrinlking, hyperpigmentation and wrinkling. They contain peptides and active botanicals that support skin renewal. They are paraben-free, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. They also contain soothing ingredients and are safe for those with sensitive skin.
Much like the face, the treatments for ‘Ozempic Body’ depend on the amount of pounds shed and the aesthetic concerns of the patients. There are no reliable non-surgical options to address significant skin laxity after massive weight loss. Excess skin surgery is the only treatment option for such cases. For mild to moderate changes, the best non-invasive procedure is the Emsculpt Neo, with the addition of the Emtone or Exion Body Applicators. The Emsculpt Neo uses similar technology to the Emface, using radiofrequency and HIFEM (high intense focused electromagnetic energy) that has been shown to burn 30% fat and increase 25% muscle the area being treated. It is a great way to build back up the muscles of the upper arms, abdomen, love handles, buttocks and thighs. Combining either the Emtone or the Exion can further improve skin laxity.
For the right patient, semaglutide can be a transformative weight loss tool. But dropping weight rapidly can lead to unwanted aesthetic side effects including lost volume and skin laxity on the face and body. Depending on your aesthetic goals, there are surgical and non-surgical procedures that can help plump, smooth, and tighten from head to toe. For those looking for completely non-invasive procedures with no downtime, the Emface and Emsculpt Neo are great options. If you would like to learn more and schedule a consult, click here.