How Long Can I Stay on Ozempic For Weight Loss?


Written by:

You know Ozempic can help with weight loss, but how long can you stay on Ozempic exactly? Unfortunately, there isn’t a solid answer to this question yet.

Like snowflakes, music tastes and weird celebrity crushes, everyone’s weight loss journey is different. And similarly, how long you can take Ozempic is highly individual.

Ozempic is a diabetes drug sometimes prescribed off-label for weight loss. (Off-label use means it’s prescribed for something other than what the FDA approved it for.) So there’s no set timeframe for how long you’ll stay on it if you’re taking it as a weight loss medication.

It’ll probably take several months to lose a significant amount of weight. But when you stop taking Ozempic will depend on several factors, including your starting weight, goal weight and if you have any existing health conditions.

Read on to find out if you have to take Ozempic forever, the risks of long-term use and what alternative weight loss medications are out there.

How Long Can You Stay on Ozempic for Weight Loss?

There’s no set time frame for how long you can stay on Ozempic for weight loss. If you’re tolerating it well, you might be able to stay on Ozempic until you reach your goal weight. This could be several months or potentially multiple years.

This is something you’ll want to discuss with your healthcare provider. They may recommend taking the medication until you reach your goal weight or longer for long-term weight management.

How long you take Ozempic will depend on:

  • Your starting weight

  • Your goal weight

  • Whether you have any underlying medical conditions

  • Whether you make nutrition and exercise changes alongside taking Ozempic

  • How well you tolerate the drug and dose increases

In short, how long you can stay on Ozempic will all depend on you and your body. Your provider can monitor your health on Ozempic to determine if and when you need to come off the drug.

Side Effects May Dictate How Long You Take Ozempic

You know what they say about best-laid plans. As with any prescription drug, Ozempic comes with potential side effects.

So, even if a healthcare provider thinks you’ll be a good candidate for it, you never know how your body will react. You could experience side effects severe enough that you stop treatment earlier than planned.

Common side effects of Ozempic include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Constipation

Most of these happen when the dose of Ozempic goes up.

(RelatedOzempic For Weight Loss: How It Works, Side Effects & More)

How Long Can You Take Ozempic for Weight Loss?

Is Ozempic long term? There isn’t much research into long-term Ozempic use, but it appears to be safe. As mentioned, Ozempic is approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) as a diabetes drug to help those with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.

So, it is designed to be taken long term. And research spanning one to two years shows that semaglutide — the active ingredient in Ozempic — is safe.

Ozempic Clinical Trials for Weight Loss

2022 review rounded up the results from the STEP (Semaglutide Treatment Effect in People with obesity) clinical trials. These trials looked at how a weekly 2.4-milligram (mg) semaglutide injection affected people with excess body weight and obesity.

STEP 1, 3, 4 and 8 trials looked at participants with overweight and obesity without type 2 diabetes. These studies found an average weight loss ranging from almost 15 percent to upwards of 17 percent over 68 weeks.

STEP 5 lasted 104 weeks — two years! — and found that average weight loss was about 15 percent at the end of the study.

If you’re wondering, other STEP trials looked at participants with type 2 diabetes.

Semaglutide was relatively well tolerated in these studies. Participants experienced gastrointestinal side effects, but most of these side effects were short in duration and mild or moderate in severity.

How Long Does It Take to Start Losing Weight on Ozempic?

Research from 2021 looked at almost 2,000 adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher or 27 or higher with at least one weight-related health condition.

Participants took a weekly 2.4-milligram injection of semaglutide alongside making some lifestyle changes. They showed weight loss by the four-week mark, and this weight loss continued for the duration of the 68-week study.

So weight loss can happen relatively quickly on Ozempic, but that doesn’t mean you’ll come off the drug quickly.

Do You Have to Take Ozempic Forever for Weight Loss?

If you don’t have diabetes, you probably won’t have to take Ozempic forever. You might take the drug until you reach your goal weight and a healthcare provider advises you to stop taking it.

That said, Ozempic is  suitable for long-term weight management.

A 2021 review looked at the results from three semaglutide clinical trial programs. It concluded that a significant benefit of semaglutide was that it can be used “for long-term management of weight.”

The review also noted that Wegovy (the higher-dose version of Ozempic made by the same manufacturer, Novo Nordisk) “is supposed to be used for long-term weight management.”

But some people gain some of the weight they’ve lost when they stop taking semaglutide.

So, can you stay on Ozempic for life to keep the weight off? In theory, you could. But although it may be safe, the cost, potential shortages and unknown long-term risks might stop you from doing so.

Can You Stop Taking Ozempic at Any Time?

You certainly don’t need to take Ozempic indefinitely or power through if the side effects get to be too much. However, you shouldn’t abruptly stop using the medication (or any prescription drug, for that matter) without letting your prescribing healthcare provider know.

Your provider can offer guidance on when and how to stop semaglutide injections.

Ozempic Long-Term Effects

Ozempic is still a relatively new drug, so it’s unclear what the risks of taking it are long term.

The 2022 review we mentioned earlier found the drug to be relatively safe over trials ranging from 68 weeks to 104 weeks, but we don’t know much beyond that point.

Ozempic Health Risks and Considerations

Here’s what we know about Ozempic’s health risks.

The drug comes with a black box FDA warning stating that semaglutide causes thyroid C-cell tumors in rodents. Sounds scary, but it’s currently unclear if Ozempic causes thyroid tumors or thyroid cancer in humans.

For now, people with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2) shouldn’t take Ozempic.

Beyond that, serious health issues were reported in clinical trials, including:

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)

  • Diabetic retinopathy complications (an eye disease)

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if you take an insulin secretagogue or insulin

  • Acute kidney injury

  • Acute gallbladder disease

Seek medical advice if you notice any serious side effects.

Alternatives to Ozempic for Weight Loss

Ozempic isn’t your only option if you’re considering weight loss drugs.

There are other weight loss injections, such as:

  • Semaglutide (Wegovy — the higher-dose version of Ozempic FDA-approved for weight loss)

  • Tirzepatide (Zepbound and off-label Mounjaro)

  • Liraglutide (Saxenda and off-label Victoza)

There are also non-injectable weight loss medications, such as:

  • Semaglutide (Rybelsus)

  • Off-label metformin

  • Naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave)

  • Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia)

  • Orlistat (Xenical)

  • Topiramate (Topamax)

How long you can stay on these other weight loss medications also varies wildly. It’ll ultimately depend on your weight loss goals, overall health and how the drug works for your body.

Of course, there are also drug-free weight loss interventions you can try, such as nutritional plans, exercise routines and behavioral change tools and services.

(RelatedMounjaro vs. Ozempic: Which Is Better for Weight Loss?)

How Long Should You Stay on Ozempic for Weight Loss?

Theoretically, you could stay on Ozempic forever, as long as you’re tolerating the drug well. However, that doesn’t mean you should stay on Ozempic for the long haul. A healthcare provider can help you decide whether to go on and stay on Ozempic and when to come off.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • How long you can stay on Ozempic is super personal. Ozempic isn’t FDA-approved for weight loss, so there’s no set time limit for taking it. It’ll depend on things like your starting weight, goal weight, medical history, lifestyle interventions and how well you tolerate the drug.

  • Long-term Ozempic use seems safe. It’s designed as a long-term diabetes medication, after all. Studies spanning up to two years show semaglutide is relatively safe and that side effects are mild to moderate and often resolve with time. But we’re still learning about Ozempic’s long-term effects.

  • Weight gain can happen when you come off Ozempic. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should stay on the medication forever. Chat with a healthcare provider for advice on stopping the drug and personalized guidance on keeping weight loss off.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

More from MediaFeed:

How to Get Prescribed Ozempic For Weight Loss

How to Get Prescribed Ozempic For Weight Loss

Genetics or hormonal changes can pose challenges for losing weight, as you may know firsthand. Like many others struggling to shed excess pounds, you might be wondering if the injectable medication Ozempic is right for you — and if so, how to get prescribed Ozempic for weight loss.

So, how do you get an Ozempic prescription for weight loss? There are a few hurdles to cross, but if you qualify, it can actually be relatively easy.

We’ve got you covered with info on how to get Ozempic prescribed for weight loss, where to get Ozempic and the cost of the medication without insurance (because unfortunately, most insurance plans don’t cover weight loss meds).


Before we sort out how and where to get this buzzy drug, let’s cover the basics.

Ozempic is a brand name for semaglutide. The injectable medication is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating type 2 diabetes.

The diabetes drug also happens to curb hunger — that’s why it’s sometimes prescribed for weight loss.

Ozempic is part of a class of drugs known as GLP-1 agonists. For those who like to dive really deep into the science, GLP-1 (short for glucagon-like peptide-1) is a naturally occurring hormone that regulates insulin and promotes feelings of fullness.

So, Ozempic and other drugs with semaglutide as the active ingredient (more on these later) essentially mimic GLP-1, which can help the stomach empty more slowly.

Semaglutide also reduces cravings and increases insulin secretion by the pancreas, lowering blood sugar levels. This means you’re less hungry and feel full longer.


Like most medications, you can’t just add the drug to your online cart or pluck it from a drugstore shelf — you’ll need an Ozempic prescription. You can get one of those in person or on certain telehealth platforms.

Can You Get an Ozempic Prescription Without Diabetes?

The short answer is yes, Ozempic can be prescribed off-label for weight loss. Off-label use means a medication is prescribed by a healthcare provider for something other than what it’s approved for by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — in this case, type 2 diabetes.

But getting an off-label prescription isn’t always cut-and-dried (or covered by insurance, for that matter).


You can get a prescription for Ozempic for weight loss from a licensed healthcare provider following a physical exam and medical evaluation. It’s also possible to get an online prescription from a telehealth provider who may ask questions or request health records to see if the medication is appropriate for you.

How to Get Ozempic in Person

Wondering who can prescribe Ozempic for weight loss? You don’t need to find a specialist, but the drug can only be prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider (like your primary care physician, a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner).

Getting Ozempic in person can be a good idea because your provider will do a thorough physical health exam, talk through existing medical conditions and order any necessary lab tests. They’ll also be able to show you how to do weight loss injections on yourself if that’s a concern.

If you want to get Ozempic in person, make an appointment to see your primary care physician or a general practitioner and let them know you’re interested in weight loss medications.


Now that everything from dog food to donuts can be sent directly to your doorstep (homebodies, rejoice), getting prescribed Ozempic for weight loss online is likely simpler than you think. You can get Ozempic online, but you’ll need a telehealth appointment to do so.

While the process of getting Ozempic online varies by provider, they’ll typically ask you a few basic questions and determine your BMI (body mass index — more on that in a minute) to see if you’re eligible. Then you’ll be connected with a prescribing healthcare professional who’ll take it from there.

Many telehealth providers prescribe semaglutide.

Some Ozempic telehealth providers offer additional services like weight loss coaching or a customized weight loss program (typically for an additional fee). Others may have same-day appointments, and some may allow you to pay for the appointment with insurance. Still, most insurance companies won’t cover the cost of the medication itself unless it’s for diabetes.

Elena Katkova/istockphoto

If you’re looking for Ozempic for weight loss, your provider may calculate your body mass index based on your current height and weight to get an idea of body fat.

While the BMI measurement is imperfect (it doesn’t consider things like age, ethnicity or muscle mass), it can be a quick and inexpensive way to assess whether someone has overweight or obesity and qualifies for certain medications.

Wegovy is another semaglutide drug that is approved for treating obesity and situations where excess weight is accompanied by weight-related medical problems.

More specifically, FDA guidelines state that to be appropriate for Wegovy, you must have a BMI of 30 or greater, or a BMI of at least 27 with at least one weight-related comorbidity (things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease or sleep apnea). Some providers may use the Wegovy guidelines when prescribing Ozempic.

Carolina Rudah/istockphoto

Eligibility requirements for Ozempic prescriptions vary, especially while the drug faces shortages.

Novo Nordisk, the parent company of Ozempic, indicated that shortages of the medication (due to increased demand and the discontinuation of certain Ozempic pens) are improving, but they still exist.

With that in mind, providers may be choosier about who they prescribe Ozempic to, and priority might go to those with diabetes.

Carolina Rudah/istockphoto

Here’s the not-great news: your health insurance is unlikely to cover the cost of Ozempic if it’s used for weight management (it may be a different story if you’re prescribed the drug for diabetes).

Weight loss drugs are rarely covered by insurance. This could change in the future as the industry evolves, but for now, it’s an unfortunate aspect of Ozempic.

How Much Does Ozempic Cost?

To put it mildly, Ozempic isn’t cheap. The list price for one Ozempic pen (which contains two to four doses) is upwards of $900, generally.

The cost of Ozempic (and lack of insurance coverage) is one consideration when deciding whether it’s right for you.

Also, Ozempic isn’t a one-and-done situation. A 2022 study showed that after a year without semaglutide injections, participants had regained an average of two-thirds of their lost body weight. So, factor in the cost of continued use when crunching numbers.


The process of getting Ozempic is the same whether insurance covers it or not. If you’re paying out of pocket, you’ll still need to consult a healthcare professional in person or through a telehealth platform to get a prescription.

When filling that prescription, you’ll pay for it outright at the pharmacy instead of having them bill your insurance.

If you’re wondering where to get a prescription filled online, check out the FDA’s tips for assuring your online pharmacy is safe and licensed. It’s important to buy from a reputable pharmacy, as the FDA has found illegally marketed and potentially counterfeit semaglutide available online.

How to Ask a Doctor for Ozempic

If you’re super by-the-book (big eldest-sister energy), off-label drug use may seem scary or like you’re breaking the rules — but the practice is legal and quite common. There’s no need to feel sheepish asking about a medication that may help you.

Tell your provider why you’re interested in Ozempic — a good doctor won’t judge you or your desire to use a weight loss medication.

They’ll likely ask about your medical history, go over your eligibility and consider anything that might make you a bad candidate for Ozempic. From there, you can work together to develop a treatment plan that may or may not include weight loss injections.

(RelatedWeight Loss Injections: Are They Safe?)

monkeybusinessimages / istockphoto

Ozempic can be a helpful piece of the weight loss puzzle, but it’s not without its side effects.

Common side effects of Ozempic include:

  • Stomach pain 

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Heartburn

  • Low blood sugar (though it typically doesn’t cause hypoglycemia)

One study found that the GI (gastrointestinal) side effects of Ozempic are typically mild to moderate. Still, if you’re not sure the medication is right for you, it might be worth considering alternative weight loss medications and lifestyle tweaks — we’ll go over these below.


According to Ozempic’s safety pamphlet, the medication could be unsafe for people with acute gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, diabetic retinopathy, kidney problems or a family history of thyroid cancer.

Also, be sure to let your provider know if you’re pregnant, trying to conceive or breastfeeding.


Many GLP-1 agonist medications that work similarly to Ozempic are now available. There are also other medications that can be used for weight management — both on label and off label. These include metformin, topiramate, Wegovy, Saxenda, Zepbound, Mounjaro and naltrexone-bupropion.


Metformin (generic for Glucophage, Riomet and Glumetza) is a prescription medication that’s FDA-approved to treat diabetes, but sometimes prescribed off-label for weight loss.

While it’s not totally understood how metformin helps with weight loss, it’s thought it might work similarly to Ozempic. Metformin appears to increase how much GLP-1 the body makes. By signaling a feeling of fullness to your body, you’ll likely eat less because you don’t feel as hungry.

Metformin typically comes in pill or liquid form — but never an injectable.

(RelatedOzempic vs Metformin For Weight Loss)


Topiramate (generic for Trokendi XR, Qudexy XR and Topamax) is typically used for treating epilepsy and migraines, but it’s also approved for weight management in those with a BMI over thirty when combined with another medication, phentermine. This prescription drug suppresses appetite, often resulting in reduced calorie intake.


We already talked about Wegovy, so we’ll keep it brief. The active ingredient in Wegovy is semaglutide, but unlike Ozempic, it’s FDA-approved for weight loss.

It’s also an injectable and typically has higher doses of semaglutide than Ozempic (which can sometimes mean more side effects).

Carolina Rudah/istockphoto

Saxenda is an injectable GLP-1 agonist medication like Ozempic and Wegovy. You know the drill — these medications suppress appetite and reduce cravings for fatty foods.

The main difference is that Saxenda’s active ingredient is liraglutide, which works similarly to semaglutide but isn’t identical.


Zepbound and Mounjaro are two other injectables used to treat obesity. They’re both brand names for generic tirzepatide — Mounjaro is approved for diabetes and Zepbound is approved for weight management.

Tirzepatide works similarly to semaglutide, except it’s a dual agonist. This means that in addition to activating GLP-1, it also activates glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP).

That’s a mouthful, but what you really need to know is that tirzepatide may cause even more weight loss than Ozempic or Wegovy.


Like a married couple with a hyphenated last name, naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave) is simply a fusion of these two FDA-approved drugs.

Naltrexone is commonly used to treat alcohol and drug dependence, and it also reduces the reward effects of food. Bupropion is used for the treatment of depression or to help quit smoking. With their powers combined, this medication reduces appetite and helps control food cravings.

KucherAV/ iStockphoto

Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference when it comes to losing weight. And if you do opt to take weight loss medication, it’ll be more effective in addition to diet and exercise.

Here are a few ways to support your weight loss goals — with or without medication.

Eat a Nutritious Diet

Adjusting your diet in an attempt to lose weight isn’t groundbreaking — not like some of the innovative drugs now on the market. But the tried-and-true method can be effective.

Small tweaks like adding more lean protein to your diet or rethinking your snack game (yes, healthy snacks are definitely encouraged when losing weight) can have a big effect.


No one says you need to train for a marathon or go anywhere near a spin class (unless you want to) to meet your weight loss goals and feel your best, but moving your body more can definitely help.

You have to burn about 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat mass, so any amount of moving and calorie-burning you can do will help you get to your goal.


As anyone who’s ever gotten late-night pizza knows, alcohol doesn’t make you feel full. So, you get extra calories from the booze itself, plus the additional snack foods you might indulge in after the fact. 

A 2018 study found that heavy alcohol drinkers may be “at risk for suboptimal long-term weight loss.”

This study was done specifically on people with diabetes. However, you don’t need to be a medical researcher to know it’s much easier to hit snooze than to hit the gym after a night of drinking — another way alcohol can mess with your weight loss goals.


Can Ozempic be prescribed for weight loss? Yes, it can — as an off-label use for the medication.

Here’s what to remember about how and where to get Ozempic for weight loss:

  • There aren’t specific Ozempic qualifications when it’s prescribed for weight loss, but many prescribers will use BMI as a guide to see if it’s appropriate for you. The general guidelines are that you either need to have a BMI of 30 or more or a BMI of 27 or more with a comorbidity (another weight-related medical condition).

  • Since it’s so popular, there are currently shortages of Ozempic and Wegovy. This means it may be difficult to fill your prescription quickly.

  • You should never try to skirt an Ozempic prescription or buy it from a sketchy website. This can be dangerous, especially since the medication is injectable.

  • Weight loss medications can definitely help make the road smoother, but they work best when combined with things like healthier lifestyle choices, a body-friendly diet and others. 

  • Weight loss is a very personal journey, and in the end, the choice to seek out a medication like semaglutide is entirely yours.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

Carolina Rudah/istockphoto

ilona titova/istockphoto

Featured Image Credit: Carolina Rudah/istockphoto.