Ozempic Side Effects and Safety

Mahshid Moghei, PhD Medically reviewed by Mahshid M. on | Written by Matthew Sommers

Semaglutide pen and hair

With the rise in prominence of GLP-1 medications like Ozempic for weight loss in addition to their traditional use for diabetes, questions are also raised about their safety. As intriguing as its weight loss potential can be, people are also concerned about potential side effects. For instance, the potential for developing an “Ozempic face” has become a more prominent term as more people discuss their experiences using social media and other platforms. 

For those considering the medication, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects to make a more informed decision. It’s also critical to be aware of the broader precautions that can lead to recommendations to avoid using Ozempic and other GLP-1 medications. Let’s take a closer look at the side effects and precautions of Ozempic

Key Takeaways

  • The most common side effects of Ozempic are gastrointestinal, like upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea. 

  • “Ozempic face” is a commonly used term on social media and other platforms. In many cases, the term is tied to speculation about who may or may not be using the medication. This is not a medical term; individual questions about the risks and benefits of therapy are best answered by consulting your healthcare provider. 

  • Discussing your medical history with your providers is critical. Certain conditions, like gastroparesis, pancreatitis, or a personal or family history of thyroid tumors may lead to recommendations to avoid Ozempic due to increased risks of complications. 

Ozempic Side Effects

As with many medications, some of the actions that can make Ozempic effective are also closely related to common side effects. Ozempic affects the digestive tract, causing delayed stomach emptying and reduced hunger, which can ultimately contribute to weight loss. Unfortunately, its actions on the digestive tract can also lead to upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea. If Ozempic isn’t tolerated well and is ultimately stopped, these effects are often the reason.

The most common side effects of Ozempic are:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Constipation

It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions carefully. It’s often recommended to start with lower doses of Ozempic and spend about a month at each dose before moving up in dosage. This allows the body to adjust, and can help make side effects less likely to occur. It’s normal for it to take several months before a target dose is reached. 

What is “Ozempic Face?”

The term “Ozempic face” has been used to describe the potential development of “extra facial skin” or a “hollow” appearance. It’s important to note the term’s context. First and foremost, this is not a medical term and has ultimately been closely associated with speculation about who may be using Ozempic (e.g., celebrities). 

Indeed, GLP-1 use can be associated with a broad loss of body fat, and these effects can extend to the face. However, the term can potentially be harmful. This is because it overlooks some of the benefits that can be associated with treatment, like lower risks of cardiovascular disease. The term is also often used to speculate about others, which ultimately perpetuates invasive rumors and may deter those who may benefit from treatment. If you’re considering therapy and have individual questions about the term “Ozempic face,” it’s helpful to talk with your healthcare providers and better understand your individualized assessment of potential risks and benefits. 

Ozempic Precautions

If you are considering Ozempic, it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider about your complete medical history. Certain conditions may lead to a recommendation to avoid using the medication. 

Thyroid Tumors

GLP-1 medications like Ozempic have been associated with the potential for higher rates of thyroid tumors and thyroid cancer. If you or a family member have a history of a thyroid tumor, it’s recommended to avoid using Ozempic because of this risk. 


Ozempic has also been associated with higher rates of pancreatitis, or painful inflammation of the pancreas. This is a serious condition requiring hospitalization. Individuals with a past history of pancreatitis may be at an increased risk of developing the condition again and may be advised to avoid Ozempic. 


GLP-1 medications like Ozempic slow down stomach emptying. Gastroparesis is a condition characterized by existing delayed stomach emptying, leading to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, and abdominal pain. Ozempic may worsen this condition due to its effects on the stomach. 

Dehydration and Kidney Damage

If Ozempic is started and causes side effects like vomiting or diarrhea, it’s important to address these symptoms. Diarrha and vomiting cause fluid and electrolyte loss, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. If these imbalances aren’t addressed, it can cause more serious complications like kidney damage. 

Ozempic and Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant it’s important to discuss Ozempic with your healthcare provider. Particularly if you’re using the medication for weight loss, it’s recommended to stop using Ozempic during pregnancy —- weight loss is not recommended during pregnancy. 

Animal studies have shown a potential for loss of pregnancy and a higher risk of birth defects. Human studies are limited. Poorly controlled blood sugars also pose a significant risk during pregnancy. If Ozempic is being used for diabetes, consulting your healthcare provider will help you determine an approach that minimizes risks for you and your baby. 

Ozemic Affordability

While not necessarily a clinical side effect, the Ozempic price can certainly have a negative effect on your bank account. Depending on coverage, Ozempic can be expensive and affordability is a significant barrier for those who would benefit from taking the medication. 

Ozempic Cost

If you’ve spoken with your healthcare provider and determined Ozempic would be beneficial, you may already be aware of how quickly the costs can add up. The Ozempic cost without insurance or for those with a high deductible regularly exceeds $1,000 per month. The price at different pharmacies can vary widely, so it’s helpful to take the time to do some research. 

For those with a valid prescription, there are also a number of options to buy Ozempic online. Many patients also opt to use Canadian pharmacies to take advantage of lower prices than those commonly found in the United States. PlanetDrugsDirect is a prescription referral service that works with licensed Canadian pharmacies to help you find fair prices for the products you need. Ozempic is among the medications offered, and may be provided at a more affordable price point. 


The most common side effects of Ozempic are gastrointestinal and include upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea. Starting the medication at lower doses and slowing increasing the dose over time can help the body adjust and may minimize these side effects. It’s critical to discuss your medical history with your providers before starting the medication. A history of thyroid tumors, pancreatitis, or gastroparesis may lead to a recommendation to avoid using Ozempic.

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  1. DailyMed. (2023). OZEMPIC- semaglutide injection, solution. Retrieved from https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=adec4fd2-6858-4c99-91d4-531f5f2a2d79

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The content on this page is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical advice. Patients should not use the information presented on this page for diagnosing a health-related issue or disease. Before taking any medication or supplements, patients should always consult a physician or qualified healthcare professional for medical advice or information about whether a drug is safe, appropriate or effective.