Ozempic, Wegovy, and Monjaro are trendy new weight-loss drugs that have been sensationalized by Hollywood’s elite. The medications, originally marketed to treat Type 2 diabetes, also help people drop unwanted pounds. Over time, however, users have discovered an alarming side effect that isn’t listed on the medications’ labels or inserts. Not only are users shedding weight, but they’re also claiming that they’re shedding hair. Is what people are saying true, or is it a misconception? Let’s talk about the claims that Ozempic causes hair loss and whether you should be concerned.
The History of Semaglutide
Semaglutide is a drug that was initially tested and FDA-approved for diabetes in 2017. During clinical trials, researchers observed that the medication caused noticeable weight loss. Semaglutide was then tested among 4.500 participants who didn’t have diabetes but were overweight or obese. Results indicated that compared to the placebo group, people who took Semaglutide had significant weight loss. (01) Semaglutide was then FDA-approved for weight loss in 2021. Although Ozempic is the brand name many people are most familiar with, Ozempic is only FDA-approved for diabetes. The brand Wegovy is FDA-approved for weight loss. The medications tend to be expensive since insurance often doesn’t cover the cost of using them for weight loss.
The Difference Between Ozempic, Wegoy, and Monjaro
Ozempic and Wegovy are the same medications. The only difference is that Wegovy is available in higher dosages. Monjaro is a newer medication, FDA-approved for diabetes in 2022. Like Ozempic, Monjaro is used off-label for weight loss. Monjaro belongs to the same class of drugs as Ozempic and Wegovy called incretin mimetics. The main difference is that Monjaro affects two receptors, GIP and GLP-1, while Ozempic and Wegovy only act on GLP-1 receptors. Monjaro is considered more effective, but is reported to have more side effects. All three medications are administered as weekly injections.
Understanding the Claims. Does Ozempic Really Cause Hair Loss?
Many alarming reports about side effects are being shared via social media. Ozempic face, Ozempic butt, and hair loss are the ones most concerning to people. But, are the claims valid?
Hair loss isn’t listed as a side effect on the weight loss medications’ profiles. However, in clinical trials for weight loss, close to six percent of people who took the highest dose reported alopecia, compared to the one percent who received the placebo. What does that mean? It’s important to put the information into perspective. Eli Lilly, the manufacturer, issued a statement to NBC News that the hair loss people experience is typically temporary. According to the company, alopecia isn’t associated with the medication. It’’s associated with weight loss, which has been documented in other obesity trials over time. (02)
The Association Between Weight Loss and Hair Loss
Some people who use Ozempic and other weight loss medications drop pounds much faster than their bodies are prepared to handle. Changes in hormonal levels and nutritional deficiencies can occur. When the body gets shocked like that, the hair growth cycle can get interrupted, and temporary hair loss called telogen effluvium can result. The higher the dosage, and the more sudden the hair loss, the more likely hair loss will occur. Patients who have had bariatric surgery have also reported concerns about hair loss. So, alopecia isn’t necessarily related to the medications, it’s more likely linked to weight loss, no matter what method you use to drop weight.
Telogen Effluvium is Temporary
Telogen effluvium occurs when hair normally in the growth phase shifts suddenly into a resting stage. That’s what causes rapid shedding. Telogen effluvium can occur three to four months after weight loss and usually lasts for up to six months. As peoples’ bodies adjust to the weight change, hair loss usually subsides within nine months and grows back on its own. When dermatologists suspect a person is experiencing telogen effluvium from weight loss, they typically take a wait-and-see approach.
What You Can Do While You Wait for Your Hair to Grow Back
First of all, try not to panic. Waiting for your hair to grow back can feel like waiting for paint to dry. It takes time, and you can’t rush it. In the meanwhile, you can take a few steps to help the process along. First, ensure that you’re eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Protein is the primary building block for your hair. Make sure you’re eating plenty along with fresh fruits and vegetables. You may want to check with your doctor to ensure that you don’t have any iron, Vitamin D, or other deficiencies contributing to your hair loss. If so, supplements may be recommended. Hair growth supplements containing Vitamin A and Vitamin D combined with collagen, probiotics, and saw palmetto to support hair growth from the inside are available. Thickening shampoos and conditioners with argan oil, biotin, and keratin are good options to help make hair stronger, shinier, and healthier while it regrows.
Other Types of Alopecia
If you hear people claim that Ozempic or other weight loss medications cause male or female pattern baldness, alopecia areata, or any other type of alopecia, remember this. It’s possible but not likely unless you are already predisposed to the condition.
Male and female pattern baldness, androgenetic alopecia, is inherited. It occurs when your body produces Testosterone and converts it into Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which attacks the hair follicles. With that in mind, The Dermatology Times believes that it’s possible that hormonal changes from rapid weight loss can result in androgenetic alopecia, but does not share any specific cases.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body attacks the hair follicles. The condition can be triggered by stress. There are documented cases of alopecia areata that were triggered by amphetamines used for weight loss. (03) However, cases due to Ozempic, Wegovy, or Monjaro have not been documented.
If you’re concerned, it’s always a good idea to consult your dermatologist. Even if you are just experiencing telogen effluvium, you will get peace of mind that you don’t have a condition that needs medical attention.
Ozempic, Wegovy, Monjaro, and other weight loss medications are reportedly causing hair loss. In most cases, weight loss is to blame, not the actual drugs. If you’re taking one of these medications and have noticed thinning or shedding, it’s understandable to want to know the cause. Most of the time, the hair loss is temporary and will grow back on its own. If you are unsure of the reason, however, consulting with a board-certified dermatologist is always a good idea. You should rule out conditions such as male or female pattern baldness and alopecia areata that require treatment.
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