- Drugs that can cause weight loss, like Ozempic and Wegovy, have become increasingly popular in the past year.
- There are growing concerns over "Ozempic butt" and "Ozempic face"—a potential side effect of the weight loss medications.
- However, any type of quick and/or significant weight loss—through medication or otherwise—can lead to loose, sagging, or aging skin.
Drugs that can cause weight loss, such as Ozempic or Wegovy, are becoming increasingly popular. But there’s growing talk that the medications can cause loose, sagging, or aging skin that presents a cosmetic concern for some people.
In particular, “Ozempic face” and “Ozempic butt” have been trending online, and some people are critiquing the medication for the way that it quickly and starkly changes the appearances of some who use it.
Essentially, these medications can cause quite rapid weight loss, and the skin on a person’s face, butt, or other areas could appear loose or wrinkly as a result, said Andrew Kraftson, MD, clinical associate professor in the division of endocrinology and director of the weight navigation program at University of Michigan Health.
“Weight loss, as a result of any intervention, can result in the intended consequence, which is that you lose fat tissue,” Dr. Kraftson told Health. The skin now has less tissue to cover, he added, which can make it seem less full or saggy.
Here’s what experts had to say about whether Ozempic face or butt is dangerous, when people should expect to see it, and how to manage this unwanted “side effect” of weight loss.
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Skin Changes After Weight Loss
Though Ozempic seems to be getting the majority of the attention and is being linked to phrases such as Ozempic face and Ozempic butt, there are actually a few different medications linked to this issue.
- Ozempic (semaglutide): FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes.
- Wegovy (semaglutide): FDA-approved to treat overweight and obesity
- Mounjaro (tirzepatide): FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes.
Wegovy is the only medication currently approved by the FDA to treat overweight and obesity; it’s been reported that the other two—Ozempic and Mounjaro—have been used off-label for weight loss.
All three drugs work pretty similarly: Both semaglutide and tirzepatide stimulate insulin release from the pancreas when blood sugar levels are high, and help delay gastric emptying, which in turn makes people feel less hungry, and lose stored fat as a result.
These medications can help people with type 2 diabetes, overweight, and/or obesity become healthier by reducing their risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, and certain types of cancer. But the often quick weight loss people see on these drugs can lead to the unwanted issue of sagging skin—commonly known as “Ozempic face” or “Ozempic butt.”
The skin on our bodies has the ability to change or return to its shape when stretched—this is known as skin elasticity and depends on a host of factors including age, lifestyle habits, and genetics. Collagen levels and hydration levels may also impact skin elasticity.
Age in particular is a big risk factor for loss of skin elasticity. “As we get older, our skin elasticity decreases,” Dr. Kraftson said.
Past a person’s biological and lifestyle factors, the speed at which someone loses weight, and the amount of weight lost, can also affect skin elasticity—losing a lot of weight very quickly, for example, may make it harder for the skin to resorb the new shape of the tissue underneath it, Dr. Kraftson said.
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Loose Skin Most Noticeable in Face, Butt
Though people’s faces and buttocks are being explicitly called out online, that’s not necessarily the only places on the body that can have loose skin. Anything that looks more full when people have gained weight—such as the thighs or breasts, for example—can also appear more aged or less full post-weight loss, Dr. Kraftson said.
Generally speaking, however, a lot of people store excess fat around their bottom and mid-section, said Shanina Knighton, PhD, RN, associate professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Nursing. People on semaglutide may lose a lot of fat in those areas, which may in part explain “Ozempic butt,” she added.
Similarly, weight loss in the face often has a sizable impact because of the way fat is deposited in the body.
“When we automatically start losing the weight, someone says, ‘Oh, I noticed that your face is getting slimmer.’ It’s because you already don’t have a lot of it there to begin with,” Knighton told Health. “It’s going to be one of the things that’s most noticeable.”
This is also why people often say that “Ozempic face” ages people—that skin is no longer as taut. People get face filler to look young and avoid wrinkles, Dr. Kraftson said, and losing tissue in the face has the opposite effect.
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Managing Loose Skin After Weight Loss
Though weight loss and diabetes drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy have become the primary focus of loose skin following weight loss, these side effects aren’t specific to the medications—they’re the result of any type of quick, major weight loss.
“[It also] happens in folks who have bariatric surgery or go through more intensive dietary efforts,” Dr. Kraftson said. “That would be no different than with medication.”
In most cases, sagging skin is largely a cosmetic concern. But a prematurely aged appearance may still be a source of discomfort or insecurity for some people. And larger amounts of excess skin can present some health issues.
“For some individuals, it does have a medical impact,” Dr. Kraftson said. “That could be when there’s skin breakdown, skin irritation, rashes, hygienic issues, limitations to activity because of the excess skin.”
It may not be fully possible to avoid sagging or loose skin, as it’s a natural consequence of losing fat tissue. But it may be possible for some people to “minimize” these more negative side effects, Knighton said.
Some weight loss plans for medications such as Wegovy last about 18 months, he added. That more gradual usage may be enough time for the skin to “accommodate a bit more of those changes,” he said, as opposed to trying to lose the weight in a shorter amount of time.
“If your concern is about excess skin, then you can potentially go on a slower schedule, where you stay at a lower dose for longer,” Dr. Kraftson explained.
Keeping up a healthy lifestyle while trying to lose weight is also an important way to protect against “Ozempic butt” or “Ozempic face,” Knighton added.
NEWS is a good acronym to keep in mind when losing weight—nutrition, exercise, water, and sleep. They’re all proponents of losing weight in the first place—good nutrition and exercise may be obvious, but getting more sleep is associated with weight loss, as is proper hydration.
But these four may also reduce the extent of loose or sagging skin post-weight loss, Knighton added.
The body goes through a “dramatic process” when people lose large amounts of weight, and it’s important that the body has what it needs to successfully undergo that, she said.
“If we don’t take care of [our cells] then they won’t replenish themselves rapidly to take care of us,” Knighton said. “So getting the nutrient dense foods does help with that process. Getting exercise does help as well.”
Proper hydration and sleep—both of which may improve skin elasticity—are other important ways to support the body, and all the cell regeneration it’s doing during weight loss, Knighton added.
“I know that that sounds pretty simple,” she said. “Are they hydrating their bodies properly? Are they getting in nutrient dense foods? Are they exercising? And then are they getting enough sleep in order for their body to be able to restore and replenish?”
Weight loss and skin elasticity is very individual, so this may not work for everybody, Knighton said. Many people may assume that they can simply get rid of any loose skin after weight loss simply by exercising, Dr. Kraftson added, which “rarely, if ever, happens.”
People can consult their doctors if they’re concerned about sagging skin—sometimes plastic surgery may be a good option, Dr. Kraftson said, especially if people want to remove skin on the stomach, arms, or legs.