Anesthesiologists advise stopping Ozempic and Wegovy before surgery

Anesthesiologists advise stopping Ozempic and Wegovy before surgery

Ozempic: A Weight-Loss Drug with Anesthesia Risks


The popular weight-loss drug, Ozempic, also known as semaglutide or Wegovy, has received a new warning from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). While Ozempic and other GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs are effective at reducing hunger and decreasing food intake, they can pose risks for patients undergoing anesthesia for surgery.

Dr. Michael Champeau, the president of ASA, explains that GLP-1 agonists slow down digestion, which results in food staying in the stomach longer. This can lead to an increased chance of vomiting while under anesthesia, even if no food has been consumed prior to surgery. Champeau states, “As soon as we started hearing anecdotal reports and case reports, the mind immediately goes to how the drug works and what it does.”

To mitigate this risk, the ASA recommends that individuals taking a GLP-1 agonist like Ozempic should stop using it before surgery. The specific guidelines depend on the frequency of drug intake. For those taking the drug once a day, it is advised to skip the morning dose of Ozempic on the day of surgery. On the other hand, patients taking the drug once a week should refrain from taking it until after surgery.

In explaining the rationale behind these recommendations, Champeau draws a parallel with the fasting instruction given prior to surgery. He describes how historical cases of patients vomiting during anesthesia necessitated the need to reduce the likelihood of such complications. Anesthesiologists remain strict regarding fasting guidelines to ensure patient safety, frustrating both patients and surgeons when instructions are not followed.

GLP-1 agonists, including Ozempic, were originally developed to treat people with diabetes. They mimic a hormone called GLP-1, which prompts the production of more insulin in response to meals. However, these drugs also delay gastric emptying, resulting in a feeling of fullness and appetite suppression, making them effective tools for weight loss.

Other GLP-1 agonists, such as Trulicity, Byetta, Victoza, and Adlyxin, offer similar benefits in managing diabetes and aiding weight loss. However, the ASA’s warning about anesthesia complications applies to all drugs in this class.

After surgery, patients can resume taking their GLP-1 agonist the day following the procedure. For individuals using these drugs to control diabetes, it may be necessary to temporarily switch to an alternative medication during the recovery period. Champeau advises patients to consult with their diabetes management healthcare provider to ensure proper control of their blood sugar levels while not taking Ozempic.

The ASA’s warning highlights the importance of understanding the potential risks associated with new medications. It serves as a reminder that even drugs with remarkable benefits, such as Ozempic, can have specific considerations for certain medical situations.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ozempic and other GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs can slow down digestion, leading to an increased risk of vomiting during anesthesia for surgery.
  • ASA recommends stopping the use of Ozempic before surgery, with specific guidelines depending on the frequency of drug intake.
  • Anesthesiologists emphasize the importance of fasting guidelines to reduce complications during anesthesia.
  • GLP-1 agonists were initially developed to treat diabetes but have also become popular for their weight-loss properties.
  • Patients can resume using GLP-1 agonists the day after surgery, but those with diabetes may need to switch to an alternative medication temporarily.
  • The ASA’s warning emphasizes the need to be aware of potential risks and consult healthcare professionals when considering medication use in specific medical situations.