Rapid weight loss while using Ozempic can result in excess skin on the face (and body), creating the appearance of sagging and wrinkles.
The medication Ozempic has made news for how it can distort the face. There’s now a colloquial phrase — widely used on social media — for the change that can occur: “Ozempic face.”
This phrase refers to the fact that your face may begin to look hollowed out or gaunt after you go on the medication.
Ozempic can lead to a tremendous amount of weight and fat loss. And when you lose weight or fat, it doesn’t just leave your body, but your face, too, explains hypertension specialist Raoul Manalac, MD, with telehealth platform Ro.
When there’s less body fat underneath the skin in your face, the face can appear more wrinkled, he says. This is especially likely when you lose weight quickly.
“Typically, when patients lose weight, it happens gradually, which allows the skin to contract and shrink slowly along with the weight loss,” says Phillip Kadaj, MD, a medical expert with JustAnswer.
Rapid weight loss — which commonly occurs with Ozempic — doesn’t give the skin much time to contract and shrink, he explains.
This can result in excess skin on your face as well as your body, creating the appearance of sagging and wrinkles. “This can give the face an appearance of having aged,” says Kadaj.
There are things you can do to decrease your odds of seeing significant changes in your face due to weight loss, according to Manalac.
The first is to avoid trying to lose weight as fast as possible. Not only is it unsustainable long-term, but it can increase your risk of unwanted changes to your face.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
“Clinical trials showed that the average person taking Ozempic lost roughly 5% of their body weight by 20 weeks,” says Manalac. ”For a 220-pound person, that’s about half a pound per week.”
A healthcare professional can help you figure out an Ozempic dosage that allows you to lose weight at a healthy rate.
“The other thing you can do is focus on your nutrition,” he says. “Staying hydrated and eating plenty of healthy proteins can help keep your skin as healthy as possible.”
“To restore volume in the face, there are a variety of options available, including fillers, plasma injections, micro-needling, fat transfer, and face/neck lifts,” says Kris Adair, family nurse practitioner and founder of Adair Family Clinic and MedSpa in Peoria, Arizona.
Fillers are injected at different depths into the skin to plump up wrinkles and smooth lines on your face. This can help decrease the appearance of sagging.
“Generally, fillers are a less invasive option for a smoother, voluminous appearance,” says Adair.
The downside, however, is that they don’t always yield the desired results longer-term, she says. That’s because they’re eventually absorbed into the body.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) refers to a concentration of growth factor proteins derived from whole blood that can promote healing when injected.
PRP injections may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.
Microneedling is a procedure that involves, you guessed it, tiny needles.
Using a microneedling device, a healthcare professional creates tiny pricks to your skin. This stimulates collagen production, a protein responsible for skin elasticity and tightness.
Fat transfer is exactly what it sounds like. It involves taking fat from other body parts — usually the hips or abdomen — and injecting it into the face, most commonly in the cheeks and under the eyes.
Fat transfer has the highest probability of success when performed slowly over an extended period of time. Otherwise, there’s a risk of distortion.
Face or neck lift
“A face/neck lift is a surgical procedure that involves lifting and tightening the skin and underlying tissues in the face and neck,” explains Adair.
While it may be more invasive than other procedures, it can provide longer-lasting results — particularly for older adults who may not benefit from facial fillers.
Can Ozempic affect your face and overall weight when used for diabetes?
The medication is the same whether it’s prescribed to treat obesity or diabetes. As a result, the potential side effects — including face and overall sagging — are the same.
“The best solution is to really be aware that this result is possible and be sure to lose weight very slowly, which can be achieved by starting on lower doses of Ozempic and increasing very gradually,” says Kadaj.
“Everyone wants to see fast results, but slower weight loss can mitigate the chances of developing sagging skin and ‘Ozempic face.’”
Will your face return to its previous shape and size if you stop taking Ozempic?
“If a person stops taking the medication and is able to maintain their weight, eventually the skin should retract some,” says Kadaj.
When the skin retracts, the face will still look slimmer than it did before Ozempic, but there will be less sagging skin over time. As a result, the face will look less hallowed.
“But the skin won’t retract in all cases,” he says.
Younger folks have more elastic skin and have a higher likelihood of the skin retracting, he says. Therefore, younger people are more likely to have their face return to their previous shape and fullness.
If youregain the weight you lost, your face will likely return to its previous state, says Kadaj.
Can other weight loss medications affect the skin on your face?
Yes. Anytime a person loses weight quickly — whether from a weight loss medication or not — it can affect the skin on their face, says Kadaj.
For instance, “patients who undergo bariatric surgery often also notice sagging in their face and body due to the rapidity of weight loss,” he says.
How long can you safely use Ozempic?
“Realistically, patients can safely use Ozempic indefinitely,” says Kadaj. However, close monitoring by a licensed healthcare professional is essential.
Your clinician can ensure you’re using the best dosage for your needs and aren’t losing weight too rapidly.
Is it possible to take too much Ozempic?
Yes, it’s possible to take too much Ozempic. Taking Ozempic at too high of a dose can cause you to lose weight at an unhealthy speed, resulting in complications like dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
Hypoglycemia is often marked by shaking, dizziness, lightheadedness, and confusion. Talk with a healthcare professional immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
You should see a doctor before, during, and maybe even after taking Ozempic.
Ozempic is a prescription medication. So, if you think you might be a good candidate for the medication, you’ll need to talk with a healthcare professional.
If you’re prescribed Ozempic, you’ll be required to work with a clinician to ensure the dosage is correct, says Adair.
She recommends working with a dermatologist from the start of your Ozempic journey — especially if you’re concerned about the possibility of unwanted facial changes.
They can perform treatments as you lose weight to help reduce your risk of developing “Ozempic face,” explains Adair.
That said, if you’re reading this and want advice on how to remedy skin sagging, know that it’s not too late. Many dermatological and cosmetic procedures can help add volume back into your face.
If you’re taking or considering taking Ozempic, you’re wise to do your research about the possible side effects.
“While this potential side effect may not excite you, you’re likely improving your health in a variety of ways through weight loss,” says Manalac.
Plus, he says there are several ways to prevent unwanted facial changes, as well as “undo it” after the fact.
Don’t let the buzz about the so-called “Ozempic face” be the thing that keeps you from improving your overall health. Instead, talk with a healthcare professional to learn if the medication is right for you.
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.