Healthcare professionals are urging caution regarding the use of well-known weight loss medications, including Ozempic and Wegovy, due to potential life-threatening complications linked to anesthesia. Anesthesiologists have noted that patients who are prescribed drugs containing semaglutide, the active ingredient in these medications, might still have undigested food in their stomachs even after extended periods of fasting. This increases the risk of pulmonary aspiration during anesthesia administration. Consequently, medical experts are advocating for the discontinuation of these medications for up to three weeks before undergoing surgery or procedures requiring anesthesia.
While the American Society of Anesthesiologists suggests that patients should avoid these drugs on the day of surgery and cease weekly injections for at least a week prior to sedation procedures, some anesthesiologists argue for a more extended discontinuation period. They propose that discontinuing the drugs for a three-week duration would eliminate roughly 88% of the drug from the body, leading to more emptied stomachs after fasting and safer administration of anesthesia. This recommendation was recently detailed in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia.
Furthermore, concerns have arisen regarding other potential adverse effects associated with medications like Ozempic. A lawsuit filed this month alleges that the manufacturers of Ozempic and Mounjaro, namely Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, respectively, did not adequately caution patients about the possibility of severe stomach problems as a side effect. Additionally, studies conducted on rodents have indicated a potential risk of thyroid tumors and cancer linked to the use of Ozempic.
Compounding the worries, there is evidence indicating that most individuals who discontinue these medications tend to regain the weight they had initially lost within a span of three to five years, and in certain cases, they might even put on more weight than they initially shed. There are apprehensions concerning the nature of the weight loss as well. Reports have surfaced suggesting that patients might experience significant loss of muscle mass along with fat reduction. This aspect raises inquiries about the broader impact on body composition.
Despite these reservations, the utilization of weight loss medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy is on the upswing, with projections suggesting that the market value of obesity-related pills could climb to as much as $200 billion in the approaching years. It is imperative that individuals contemplating the use of these medications are well-informed about the potential risks and consult extensively with their healthcare providers before arriving at any decisions.