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The new beauty regimen: Lose weight with Ozempic, tighten up with cosmetic surgery

Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Health & Fitness

LOS ANGELES — Jeniffer Brown wanted the Ozempic body. She just didn’t want “Ozempic face.”

She got both, dropping 20 pounds in the first four months after she started taking the blockbuster injectable drug, which is intended to treat diabetes but has become better known for triggering dramatic weight loss fast.

By last May, Brown was down 40 pounds in a year without changing her diet or exercise routine. She had reached her goal weight of 125 pounds and was no longer prediabetic, but the swift and substantial reduction in fat left her with looser skin, more pronounced wrinkles and sunken cheeks — side effects that have been dubbed Ozempic face, although other parts of the body are also susceptible.

“My breasts definitely got saggier, but it was more the pockets for my implants got too big at that point and my implant was flipping. That breast fat was gone,” Brown, 47, said. “My face has been what I’ve spent the most time on. It’s like a melted candle.”

To restore volume and soften facial creases, she began getting dermal fillers in her cheeks, jowls and jawline. In September, she returned to her plastic surgeon for an arm lift to reshape her upper arms and a breast lift that also secured the shifting implants.

“It is a dream weight until you spend $25,000 on plastic surgery, and you go every three months to your injector because you’ve got to just continuously pump Sculptra and fillers trying to keep that skin on your skull,” said Brown, a hairstylist from Owensboro, Kentucky.

 

Approved by the FDA in 2017, Ozempic skyrocketed two years ago as word spread about its “miracle” weight-loss capabilities. Doctors began freely prescribing the Type 2 diabetes medication off label, causing a global shortage for the pricey drug, which costs about $900 a month without insurance.

Now many say they have become thin in the waist but old in the face. The initial doctor’s visit for an Ozempic prescription is, months later, being bookended by a trip to the plastic surgeon, forging a budding relationship between the medications and the fast-growing$58-billion cosmetic surgery market.

“A patient day doesn’t go by without dealing with somebody who says, ‘My face has changed, I’ve been on this drug and I want to do something about it,’” said Dr. Alan Matarasso, a plastic surgeon in Manhattan. “We’ll see it not only on the face, but in the breasts, in the abdomen, in the thighs. What Ozempic has done is it’s opened up a whole new class of people who are considering the benefits of plastic surgery.”

Injectable alternatives including Wegovy, Mounjaro and Zepbound have also seen sales soar, and new versions — including in pill form — are in the works, marking what medical specialists are calling a revolution in anti-obesity treatment.

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