‘Ozempic face’: Richmond doctor separates fact from fiction

Dr. Joe Niamtu says when anyone has significant weight loss, regardless of how it’s achieved, the face is typically the first visible indicator.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 3:55 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 13, 2023 at 6:51 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s been one of the top trending hashtags for over a while now – Ozempic face. But what is it, and are people taking this diabetes drug to lose weight, finding out they may be doing more harm than good?

“So if you Google or go on YouTube and look at Ozempic face, you’re gonna see things like this that are obviously photoshopped,” says Dr. Joe Niamtu, one of the preeminent cosmetic surgeons in the country who has patients from all over the world.

Dr. Joe Niamtu shows off what people might find when they do a Google search for "Ozempic face."
Dr. Joe Niamtu shows off what people might find when they do a Google search for "Ozempic face."(WWBT)

Niamtu’s techniques in the operating room are studied by aspiring students of plastic surgery, who often reference textbooks he’s actually written.

While the term “Ozempic face” may be all over the internet right now, the surgeon isn’t buying all the hype.

He says the face is typically the first visible indicator when anyone has significant weight loss, regardless of how it’s achieved.

”People lose 15 to 20% of their body weight, so you’ll see it in your face,” he said. “Some people will like that. Others may think they look hollow. I don’t think you have to worry about looking gaunt enough where you need treatment.”

Shea Murray dropped a lot of weight on Ozempic, but keeping it off is another matter. She spends much time exercising these days and says it also takes lifestyle changes.

”Ozempic isn’t like a magic pill. You still have to work at exercise and knowing your portion control,” she said.

Ozempic makes you digest food much slower, meaning it makes you feel full, reduces cravings and suppresses your appetite.

Recent studies indicate that the typical patient will regain two-thirds of the weight in a few short months when they stop using it.

For example, if you weigh 200 hundred pounds and get down to 160 pounds, in all likelihood of that 40 pounds you dropped, you’ll probably gain about 26-and-a-half of those pounds back.

There are possible side effects from Ozempic, the most common being nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which typically dissipate after a few weeks of taking the drug.

If you’re taking the drug, and all of the stories on the internet have you worried about your face looking hollowed out, sagging, or rapidly aging, Niamtu believes that should be the least of your concerns.

“I see patients from all over the country, and I have not had one patient call me or come in and complain about Ozempic face,” he said.

If you want to take Ozempic for weight loss, there’s a good chance your insurance won’t cover it. Expect an out-of-pocket expense of about $750 a month.