For almost a decade, liraglutide has been proven as a safe and effective medication for adults with weight-related conditions. Approved by the FDA under the brand name Victoza in 2010 as a treatment for diabetes, liraglutide was originally used to help Type 2 diabetics regulate their blood glucose levels. However, due to its ability to lower blood sugar, Victoza also showed great promise as a weight loss treatment after researchers noticed that patients managed to lose considerable weight from using the medication. Victoza’s positive weight loss results soon led to the development of Saxenda, a higher dose of liraglutide approved in 2014 as a treatment for overweight patients struggling with obesity, poor weight management, and other weight-related issues.
What Is Saxenda?
Saxenda is an FDA-approved weight loss medication commonly prescribed to help treat weight-related conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in adults with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 27 kg and children between the ages of 12 and 17 years old with a body weight over 132 lb. The medication is administered as a once-daily injection using a pre-filled pen and is typically used in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise to help patients achieve and maintain weight loss. Studies show that utilizing Saxenda injections can help control appetite and slow down digestion, proving to be an effective dietary method for overweight or obese patients when used as part of a comprehensive weight-loss program.
What Are Saxenda Injections Used For?
Saxenda injections are typically the most effective method for delivering the medication into the bloodstream. Through these injections, patients can absorb the medicine quickly, allowing it to travel through the body and begin working immediately. With Saxenda shots administered once a day, overweight or obese patients can consistently manage their blood sugar levels, inhibit their food cravings, and slow down the digestive process so that it’s easier to lose weight and maintain healthy weight loss.
How Does Saxenda Work for Weight Loss?
Saxenda is a GLP-1 receptor agonist medication that mimics the GLP-1 hormone naturally produced by the body and sends signals to the brain to reduce appetite and hunger cravings. As that occurs, the GLP-1 receptor agonist slows down digestion in the stomach, allowing you to eat smaller portions and feel fuller after meals. During this process, liraglutide also stimulates the pancreas to release insulin to lower blood sugar, which also helps reduce calories and promote weight loss.
Saxenda Pros and Cons
Although administering a liraglutide injection is a great way to lose weight, using the medication can come with a few upsides and pitfalls. So, with that said, if you’re an overweight or obese patient thinking about using Saxenda injections for weight loss, you may want to write down the pros and cons regarding the medicine before starting treatment.
Saxenda comes in an easy-to-use injector pen that allows patients to administer quick and relatively painless subcutaneous shots underneath the skin of their stomach, thigh, or upper arm for optimal delivery. By using liraglutide as an active ingredient, Saxenda can help to lower blood sugar levels and improve glycemic control in people with diabetes, which can also promote healthy percentages of weight loss in overweight or obese patients when used with weight and exercise. As a result, patients can also improve their high cholesterol and blood pressure levels by sustaining consistent weight loss with Saxenda as a long-term treatment.
Although Saxenda can provide several weight-loss benefits, the medication does have some drawbacks. First, Saxenda is only available as an injection, which means patients with an adverse reaction to needles won’t be able to find another alternative delivery method if they plan to purchase the medicine. Second, since pharmaceutical companies have yet to create a generic version of liraglutide, patients can only buy the medication under the name-brand Saxenda, which can become expensive over time when purchased as a long-term treatment. Third, because liraglutide works to slow down the emptying of the stomach, Saxenda may negatively affect how the body absorbs other prescription medications, which can reduce their effectiveness and lead to adverse side effects.
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How Should I Use Saxenda Injections?
Depending on your specific case and medical history, your physician will determine the best injectable Saxenda dose for weight loss before you begin treatment. Typically, physicians will start patients off with 0.6 mg of Saxenda and gradually increase the dose by 0.6 mg until they reach the maximum dosage of 3 mg. Once you receive your dosing schedule, a healthcare professional can teach you how to inject the medication during your first shot at the doctor’s office so you can continue to self-administer the treatment at home.
Your Saxenda injections will typically arrive in a package of pre-filled injector pens that you’ll need to store in the refrigerator between 36°F and 46°F (2°C to 8°C). After the first injection, continue to store Saxenda injector pens in the refrigerator between 36°F and 46°F (2°C to 8°C) or at room temperature. However, once you start using the pens for injection, you can only keep them at room temperature for 30 days. Afterward, the injections cannot be placed back in the refrigerator and should be used or thrown away after the month has passed.
Before administering each dose of medication, it’s important to carefully inspect the contents of the injector pen to ensure that the solution remains clear, colorless, and free from any visible particles. If the solution fails to meet these criteria, you should immediately dispose of the medication.
You can pick any time during the day to administer your Saxenda injections, with or without food; just remember to stick to that same time frame every day for consistency. For each injection, a Saxenda needle should be injected subcutaneously under the skin of your stomach, upper leg, or upper arm. Once you’ve finished, make sure to always dispose of used needles after each shot and use a new needle for the next injection to avoid infection.
What Side Effects Can This Medication Cause?
Because Saxenda works to alter how the digestive system processes food, the medication may cause certain stomach issues, such as:
- Stomach pain
Patients may also experience other side effects associated with Saxenda, including:
- Bladder pain
- Back pain
In addition, Saxenda may also cause or worsen other more severe medical conditions, such as:
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
- Gallbladder complications
- Kidney damage
- Low blood sugar or (hypoglycemia)
Using Saxenda can also increase the risk of developing thyroid tumors, so patients with a personal or family history of thyroid issues such as medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2) should avoid using the medication as a weight loss treatment. Women who are pregnant will also need to discontinue the use of Saxenda as the medication may cause harm to the fetus during pregnancy. Make sure to fully disclose your complete medical history and any previous health conditions with your physician so they can determine if Saxenda will be a viable weight loss treatment for you.
How Many Kilos Can You Lose With a Saxenda Pen?
The amount of weight loss you’ll achieve will ultimately depend on how your body responds to the Saxenda injections. However, in clinical trials, 85% of patients lost an average weight loss of 9.5 kg (21 lb) or 9.2% on Saxenda after a year of treatment.
What Foods Should I Avoid While on Saxenda?
While there are no strict food restrictions associated with Saxenda, adhering to a low-calorie diet can optimize weight loss during treatment. Your healthcare provider may offer specialized dietary instructions that eliminate certain high-sugar foods to help you reduce your overall calorie intake. These recommendations are usually personalized based on your medical history and weight loss goals. If you’re planning to lower your calorie intake while taking Saxenda for weight loss, it’s important to consider avoiding certain foods high in sugar and saturated fats. So, before starting treatment, consider removing these foods from your diet:
- Biscuits, chocolates, and cakes
- Sodas, sports drinks, and sweetened fruit juices
- Fried foods and fast food products
- Sausages, bacon, butter, and cheese
- Alcoholic beverages
Of course, each patient will have a unique physiology that may respond differently to certain foods while using Saxenda for weight loss, so ask your physician or dietician about what foods to avoid before changing your diet. They can provide expert recommendations based on your body type and medical history and even create a customized diet plan that works for you.
If you’re struggling with obesity and other weight-related conditions, the staff at Renew Vitality can help provide a solution. We combine weight-loss treatments such as Saxenda injections with manageable exercise and diet plans to help adults rid themselves of excess body fat and maintain a healthier physique. Contact us at 1-866-942-3005 and schedule an appointment with one of our physicians to learn more about our weight loss options.