Wegovy vs Saxenda: What’s the Difference? Your Comprehensive Guide

Wegovy Vs Saxenda

If you’re on the journey to better health and weight loss, you’re not alone. With obesity rates on the rise, many are turning to medical interventions to help get their weight under control. Two popular options you might have heard of are Saxenda and Wegovy. These weight loss injections are often mentioned in the same breath, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sea of information out there. So, in this guide, we’re going to break down everything you need to know to choose the one that’s right for you.

Before we get started, please note you should always consult with your GP or pharmacist for personalised medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

What Are Weight Loss Injections?

Before we dig into Wegovy and Saxenda, let’s first understand what weight loss injections are all about. Simply put, they are liquid medications you inject into your body to help you lose weight.

Weight loss injections like Wegovy and Saxenda work by mimicking a hormone in your gut, called GLP-1, that regulates your appetite. This hormone sends a ‘stop eating’ signal to your brain, helping you feel fuller faster and ultimately reducing your calorie intake. While it’s no silver bullet for weight loss, it’s a helping hand many find useful in their weight loss journey.

Now, you may wonder, why not just take a pill? Well, injections often have a more consistent and long-lasting effect compared to oral medications.

What is Wegovy?

Wegovy is relatively new on the scene, gaining authorisation by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in September 2023. Manufactured by Novo Nordisk, this prescription weight loss medication has been proven, along with a healthy lifestyle, as a significant advancement in the fight against obesity.  

Wegovy is available on private prescription in the UK and since September 2023, it is also available by prescription on the NHS

How Does Wegovy Help with Weight Loss?

Wegovy contains the active ingredient semaglutide, which essentially tells your brain that you’re full, so you don’t feel the need to eat as much. By helping regulate your appetite, Wegovy helps you reduce the number of calories you consume, making it easier to lose weight. When combined with a healthy lifestyle, such as regular exercise, portion control and a balanced diet, Wegovy has been proven to aid weight loss. 

Do You Need a Prescription for Wegovy?

Wegovy is only available in the UK on prescription. 

On private prescription, Wegovy is usually prescribed for people over the age of 18 who either:

  • Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 30. 

  • Have a BMI above 27 and also suffer from weight-related health conditions like:

    • High blood pressure

    • High cholesterol 

    • Type 2 diabetes 

On the NHS, Wegovy is prescribed for adults with a weight-related health condition such as hypertension or cardiovascular disease and either:

  • Have a BMI of at least 35

  • Have a BMI of 30 if they meet the criteria for specialist weight management services

Side Effects of Wegovy

Every medication has side effects, and Wegovy is no exception. If you are concerned about the side effects of taking Wegovy for weight loss, you should have a detailed discussion with your GP or pharmacist to understand whether Wegovy is a suitable option for you.

Wegovy’s side effects include but are not limited to: 

Common Side Effects 

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhoea

  • Constipation

  • Abdominal pain

  • Burping or Gas

  • Bloating of the Stomach

  • Hair Loss

  • Low blood sugar in patients with diabetes

Uncommon Side Effects 

  • Inflamed pancreas

  • Fast heartbeat

Rare Side Effects

  • Severe allergic reaction

You should stop taking the medication and seek medical help if you get symptoms such as breathing problems, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and/or throat with difficulty swallowing, wheezing, fast heartbeat, pale and cold skin, and feeling weak

It’s essential to remember that some people experience side effects, and some have none at all. If you have any concerning side effects from taking Wegovy, contact your GP or pharmacist, who can provide guidance, support or alternative options for weight management.

What is Saxenda?

Saxenda has been around for a bit longer than Wegovy and was approved by the MHRA in 202. It is also produced by Novo Nordisk and has already helped countless people manage their weight more effectively.

Private and NHS patients in the UK can access Saxenda on prescription from a licensed pharmacist or GP. 

How Does Saxenda Aid in Weight Loss?

Much like Wegovy, Saxenda works by mimicking the hormones that signal your brain to stop eating. However, the active ingredient is liraglutide, which helps to regulate your appetite and makes you feel fuller quicker than if you weren’t taking it. 

Do You Need a Prescription for Saxenda?

Saxenda is only available in the UK on prescription. 

On private prescription, Saxenda is usually prescribed for people over the age of 18 who either:

  • Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 30. 

  • Have a BMI above 27 and also suffer from weight-related health conditions like:

    • High blood pressure

    • Obstructive sleep apnea

    • Type 2 diabetes 

On the NHS, Saxenda is prescribed for adults who meet criteria such as weight-related health conditions like heart attacks and strokes and:

  • A BMI of 35 or more, or you have a BMI of 32.5 or more and you’re of south Asian, Chinese, black African or African-Caribbean origin

  • Have non-diabetic hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar)

Side Effects of Saxenda 

While Saxenda is generally considered safe, it’s not without its drawbacks. Reported side effects include:

Common side effects

  • Nausea

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Stomach discomfort 

  • Feeling weak or tired

  • Changed sense of taste 

  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).

  • Gallstones 

  • Injection site reactions (such as bruising, pain, irritation, itching and rash) 

  • Low blood sugar 

Uncommon side effects

  • Dehydration 

  • Delay in the emptying of the stomach 

  • Inflamed gallbladder 

  • Allergic reactions including skin rash 

  • Feeling generally unwell 

  • Faster pulse

Rare Side Effects

  • Reduced kidney function 

  • Acute kidney failure 

It’s essential to remember that some people experience side effects, and some have none at all. If you have any concerning side effects from taking Saxenda, contact your GP or pharmacist, who can provide guidance, support or alternative options for weight management. 

Wegovy vs Saxenda: At a Glance

Features 

WEGOVY

SAXENDA 

Approval for Use

Approved by MHRA in 2023

Approved by MHRA in 2021

Function

Mimics the GLP-1 hormone to regulate appetite 

Mimics the GLP-1 hormone to regulate appetite 

Who Can Take It

Adults with BMI >30 or BMI >27 with weight-related health conditions 

Adults with BMI >27 with at least one weight-related health condition or BMI >30 without other health concerns 

Common Side Effects

Nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain

Nausea, headaches, dizziness, upset stomach

Frequency of Dosage 

One weekly

Once daily

Availability on NHS 

Available

Available 

Difference between Wegovy and Saxenda 

Active Ingredients 

The ingredients in both these weight loss medications may be different, but they work in very similar ways. 

The active component in Wegovy is semaglutide, a substance that acts like the hormone GLP-1. This hormone is responsible for triggering the release of insulin and suppressing hunger. Semaglutide is designed to stay in the body longer than naturally occurring GLP-1, leading to prolonged feelings of fullness, reduced food consumption, and lower calorie intake. Additionally, it decelerates the process of emptying the stomach and moving food through the digestive system. Semaglutide is classified as a GLP-1 agonist.

Saxenda contains liraglutide as its main active ingredient, which is also a GLP-1 agonist. Similar to semaglutide, it imitates the effects of the GLP-1 hormone, facilitating insulin release and curbing appetite. It also has the effect of slowing down the digestive system, just like semaglutide.

Effectiveness 

Let’s get to the burning question: which is more effective? Unlike Ozempic, both Wegovy and Saxenda have had clinical trials that have proven to assist in weight loss effectively. However, the results can vary depending on many factors, including your overall health, lifestyle, and how strictly you adhere to the medication regime.

In 2022, a study comparing people with obesity showed that those taking Wegovy lost 15.85% of their body weight compared to 6.4% of those who took Saxenda. Both groups took the treatment alongside improved diet and exercise. These findings indicate that Wegovy is the more effective weight loss drug. However, more studies are needed to confirm this definitively. 

Side Effects

In the same 2022 study mentioned previously, researchers found that 13.5% of those taking Wegovy stopped their treatment due to side effects, while 27.6% of those taking Saxenda stopped taking theirs. These findings could indicate that Wegovy’s side effects are not as disruptive as Saxenda, or that patients find the benefits outweigh the side effects. 

Dosage

Saxenda is injected daily into the upper arm, abdomen, or upper thigh. Whereas Wegovy is a weekly injection, usually into the stomach, thigh, or upper arm. Both are taken on the same day each week, any time of day, with or without food.

However, Wegovy is the first and only prescription weight management medication taken on a weekly basis.

Differences Between Wegovy and Saxenda

Both Wegovy and Saxenda work in the same way in that they mimic the GLP-1 hormone, which regulates your appetite. However, they have lots of other similarities: 

  • They are both injectable pens 

  • They have similar common side effects, most commonly Gastrointestinal issues

  • They can be prescribed for people who have a BMI between 27-30 and a weight-related health problem or with a BMI of 30+

  • Both are only available by private or NHS prescription

  • They are prescribed as part of a weight loss management programme 

Wegovy vs Saxenda FAQs

Can I Use Weight Loss Injections with Other Weight Loss Drugs?

It’s crucial to consult your GP or pharmacist before mixing any medications. Interactions between different drugs can lead to unforeseen side effects or reduce the efficiency of the medications. 

How Soon Can I Expect Results from Weight Loss Injections?

Most users report seeing body weight loss results within a few weeks to months, depending on a variety of factors such as their diet, physical activity, and overall health. For the best results when taking Wegovy or Saxenda for weight loss, you should combine them with a healthy lifestyle.

What About Long-Term Side Effects?

Since these are relatively new weight loss treatments, long-term side effects are not fully understood. It’s always best to consult with a GP or pharmacist for the most up-to-date information and report any concerning side effects for further guidance. 

Can I Switch from Saxenda to Wegovy?

Switching between Wegovy and Saxenda should only be done under medical supervision. As Wegovy and Saxenda are also used for patients with diabetes, if you do not make this transition under the guidance of a doctor, it could make your blood sugar drop too low, which may make the side effects worse.

Your GP or pharmacist will evaluate your situation before making any recommendations.

Should I take Wegovy or Saxenda?

Choosing between Wegovy and Saxenda is a personal choice to be made by you and your doctor or pharmacist based on individual needs, medical history, and lifestyle. Before you decide, remember that any weight loss medication should be viewed as a supplement to a healthy lifestyle, not a replacement.

Alternative Chronic Weight Management Methods

Whilst weight loss medications like Wegovy and Saxenda offer promising results, they are not the only path towards effective weight management. There are several other tried-and-true methods to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Below are alternative approaches that you might consider discussing with your healthcare provider:

  • Dietary Modifications: Opt for a balanced diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. It also helps to limit your intake of processed foods and sugars.

  • Regular Exercise: Incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.

  • Mindfulness Practices: Mindful eating and stress management techniques can help you understand the emotional and psychological aspects of eating.

  • Joining a Weight Loss Group: Surrounding yourself with people who encourage your weight loss goals can provide emotional support and practical advice.

Ready to Take the Next Step? Start a Free Consultation!

There you have it—a comprehensive guide on Wegovy vs Saxenda to help you navigate the complex world of weight loss injections. If you’re ready to get started on your weight loss journey, start a free online consultation with our licensed UK pharmacists today and find the most suitable option for your needs.

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