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Does Ozempic Cause Hair Loss?

Published on
Updated on
Does Ozempic Cause Hair Loss?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Ozempic is not known to cause hair loss when taken for type 2 diabetes, but the risk of hair loss when the medication is taken off-label for weight loss is unknown. 
  • Talk to your doctor about your hair loss concerns to identify and correct the root cause, such as rapid weight loss, vitamin deficiency, or high stress levels. 
  • Prevent or minimize hair loss by eating a balanced diet, losing no more than two pounds per week, and managing your stress.

Ozempic is a GLP-1 medication used for treating type 2 diabetes and can also be prescribed off-label for weight management. Some people report hair loss while taking Ozempic and other GLP-1 medications, like Wegovy and Mounjaro. 

However, this hair loss is more likely a result of rapid weight loss rather than the medications themselves. Continue reading to learn more about Ozempic-related hair loss and how to treat and prevent it. 

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Does Ozempic Cause Hair Loss?

Hair loss is not listed as a symptom of Ozempic based on the results of clinical trials. However, these studies were based on people taking the medication for type 2 diabetes. 

Rapid or dramatic weight loss is a common cause of hair loss, and the clinical trials on Ozempic don’t currently reflect people who take the medication off-label for weight management. 

For more clarity on this, we can look at clinical trials on Wegovy, another GLP-1 medication that is approved for treating overweight and obesity. Studies on Wegovy found that 3% of patients experienced hair loss compared to 1% of those receiving the placebo. 

Mounjaro is another GLP-1 used for treating type 2 diabetes. Though it’s not currently approved for weight management, some studies have examined the medication for treating obesity. One study from 2022 found that between 5.1% and 5.7% of people experienced hair loss versus 1% on the placebo, which was dose-dependent. 

Why You May Lose Hair on Ozempic

Though the medication itself does not cause hair loss, you may experience hair loss while taking Ozempic if you lose weight rapidly. In general, consistently losing more than two pounds per week is considered rapid weight loss. 

Hair loss is a known side effect of extreme weight loss that may occur due to bariatric surgery, very low-calorie diets, or diet pills. If your body is not getting the calories, protein, and nutrients it needs to stay healthy, it may stop prioritizing non-essential functions like hair growth. 

Telogen Effluvium

The most common type of hair loss is called telogen effluvium, which can start approximately three months after a stressful event, such as extreme weight loss, serious illness, eating disorders, surgery, or psychological stress, like grief. 

There are four phases of hair growth:

  1. Anagen phase (growth.)
  2. Catagen phase (shrinking.)
  3. Telogen phase (resting.)
  4. Exogen phase (shedding.)

Under normal conditions, over 90% of your hair follicles are in the anagen or growth phase, with less than 10% in the telogen phase. When telogen effluvium is triggered, over 25% of hair follicles are in the telogen phase, resulting in noticeable hair loss. 

How Common is Hair Loss with Ozempic?

According to the clinical trials, Ozempic does not cause hair loss in people with type 2 diabetes, likely because most people don’t experience rapid weight loss on the medication. On average, patients in the clinical trials lost between 2.6 and 10.3 pounds over 30 weeks

Remember that the patients from these trials were not attempting weight loss, so rapid weight loss and subsequent hair loss may occur at higher rates in those taking the medication while following a reduced-calorie diet. However, these rates are currently unknown. 

Treatment Options 

While there is not one specific treatment option for telogen effluvium, make sure to bring up any hair loss concerns with your doctor so they can identify the underlying cause. You may need a blood test to examine iron, zinc, vitamin D, and thyroid levels.

In the case of a vitamin deficiency, your doctor will recommend supplements and continue to monitor your lab work. You may need to initiate a thyroid medication or adjust your dose if your thyroid levels are abnormal.  

If you’re losing weight too rapidly while on Ozempic, talk with your doctor and dietitian about making sure you’re consuming adequate calories and nutrients. Your hair will likely grow back in time once your weight stabilizes. 

Biotin Supplementation

Though many people turn to biotin supplements to treat hair loss, research has not proven this effective. A biotin deficiency can cause hair loss, in which case biotin supplementation is indicated as treatment. However, this is very rare since your body can produce the biotin it needs. 

Similarly, taking high doses of iron, zinc, or vitamin D supplements when you don’t have a deficiency will not help your hair grow back. In fact, it can put you at risk of vitamin toxicity. 

Prevention Tips 

The best way to minimize hair loss while on Ozempic is to avoid rapid weight loss, focus on eating a balanced diet with adequate calories and protein, and manage your stress levels. 

Steady Weight Loss

Aim for a steady weight loss rate of no more than one to two pounds per week. Rapid weight loss and consuming too few calories can increase your risk of experiencing hair loss.

Adequate Nutrition

Evidence shows that people who consume inadequate protein or have vitamin deficiencies are more likely to experience hair loss while losing weight. Ensuring you are getting enough protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin D from your diet can help minimize potential hair loss. 

Talking with a registered dietitian about specific dietary changes you can make to prevent hair loss can be helpful.

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Manage Stress

Hair loss is not only caused by rapid weight loss and nutritional deficiencies– it can also be due to stress. Both physical and psychological stress can increase cortisol levels, which has been associated with reduced hair growth. 

Practice stress management techniques and understand that if you have experienced physical stress, like surgery or pregnancy, hair loss may occur even if you have a balanced diet and low psychological stress. 

Can You Reverse Ozempic-Related Hair Loss?

Once the underlying cause of your hair loss is identified and corrected, it can take three to six months for the normal hair cycle to resume and for your hair to start growing back. Depending on how severe the hair loss was, it can take 12-18 months to recover from telogen effluvium fully. 

In some cases, chronic telogen effluvium can occur, which is when hair loss lasts over six months. Talk to your doctor if your hair loss is not improving within a few months of correcting the underlying cause. 

Takeaway

Ozempic itself is not known to cause hair loss when used to treat people with type 2 diabetes. However, hair loss may occur as a result of rapid weight loss or nutritional deficiencies while taking the medication off-label to lose weight.

You can minimize hair loss by ensuring an adequate intake of calories, protein, vitamin D, iron, and zinc. Avoid rapid weight loss and do your best to keep your stress levels in check.  

How a Dietitian Can Help

If you are using Ozempic off-label for weight loss and are noticing hair loss, a dietitian can help you make sure you aren’t losing weight too fast by examining your calorie and protein intake. 

Your dietitian will also check your diet to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients, and they can help you manage other Ozempic side effects like nausea so that you’re eating a balanced diet.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does Ozempic cause hair loss?

If your hair loss is related to rapid weight loss on Ozempic, you can expect it to continue for three to six months before your hair starts to grow back. However, there are cases when hair loss may become chronic. This can happen if you continue losing weight rapidly or develop nutrient deficiencies.

What’s the biggest side effect of Ozempic?

The most common side effect of Ozempic is nausea, with over 5% of patients experiencing it during clinical trials. Other top side effects of the medication include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation, and low blood sugar. 

Side effects of Ozempic tend to be dose-dependent, meaning people on higher doses experience more symptoms. Most people adjust to the medication and experience less severe side effects over time.

How do you stop hair loss while taking Ozempic?

If you’re losing hair while taking Ozempic, talk to your doctor for a full workup. The most likely cause is that you’re losing weight too quickly or not eating enough calories and protein. Stabilizing your weight and improving your diet will help with hair loss. 

Your doctor may also recommend testing your thyroid, vitamin D, iron, or zinc levels because abnormal levels can contribute to hair loss. 

Lastly, ensure you are managing your stress levels, as high cortisol can be a factor in hair loss.

References

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