Ozempic, Wegovy usage before surgery could be dangerous: doctors

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Popular weight loss medications like Ozempic and Wegovy could led to serious complications if taken before surgery, doctors warned.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists released their recommendation on Thursday, advising the drugs be avoided before a procedure that includes anesthesia.

GLP-1 receptor agonists — which include Ozempic and Wegovy — are medications traditionally used treat Type 2 diabetes. However, the drugs have skyrocketed in recent months as a weight loss tool, as they delay the stomach emptying, which decreases hunger and therefore reduces food intake.

Doctors from the ASA explained that the delayed gastric emptying from the drugs means there is still food in the stomach. This could leave people nauseated, vomiting, and in danger of aspirating, which is when something enters the airway or lungs by accident.

In this case, they explained, patients could potentially suffocate on their own vomit after being anesthetized.

Anti-diabetic medication "Ozempic" in packaging.
Ozempic, usually used to treat Type 2 diabetes, has become a popular weight-loss drug.
AFP via Getty Images

Slightly overweight man injecting himself in stomach with medication.
A person injecting themselves with medication.

“While there is currently a lack of scientific data on how GLP-1 receptor agonists affect patients having surgery and interact with anesthesia,” ASA President Michael Champeau said.

“We’ve received anecdotal reports that the delay in stomach emptying could be associated with an increased risk of regurgitation and aspiration of food into the airways and lungs during general anesthesia and deep sedation,” he continued, adding that there has been preliminary research into the drugs’ side effects.

The ASA recommends patients start reducing the drug’s intake seven days before surgery for those who take injections weekly, and not using the medication the day before surgery for those who take it daily.

Diabetes and Weight Loss Should Stop Before Elective Surgery, ASA Suggests.
The ASA released their recommendations on Thursday.

The ASA also recommends patients using GLP-1 agonists for diabetes management and to prevent hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), consider consulting with an endocrinologist before surgery.

Doctors have been prescribing the injectables off-label for weight loss over the last 12 months, with users — including celebrities such as Elon MuskSharon OsbourneLauren Manzo, daughter of “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Caroline, and ex-“Housewife” Dolores Catania — reporting dramatic results.

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