Working towards your health goals is a marathon, not a sprint. Even when taking medication like Ozempic® alongside changes to your diet and exercise habits, it can take over a year to get the most out of your efforts to lose weight.

Ozempic® is licensed as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, but is often prescribed off-label to help with weight loss. You can use Ozempic® for a maximum of two years for this purpose, but sometimes people stop using it sooner.  

As with all drugs, Ozempic® can affect everyone differently, and the decision to stop taking it is down to a person’s experience and their healthcare provider’s advice.  

However, from what we know about the drug’s effects—and what might prompt the decision to stop taking it—we can get a rough idea of what your journey on Ozempic® might look like.  

How long do I need to stay on Ozempic® to see results?

Ozempic® starts working as soon as you take it, but it generally takes a few weeks to see noticeable results.

Initially, you’ll be started on a lower dose (0.25 mg) that will be gradually increased to 0.5 mg, and then potentially 1.0 mg, every four weeks. As the dose goes up, the drug generally has a stronger effect.

According to clinical trials looking at the effects of semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic®, people lose an average of around 5% body weight between weeks 6-12 of taking the drug.  

But to get the most benefit out of semaglutide, scientific research suggests that you need to be taking it for at least a year. Bear in mind that these studies looked at doses of semaglutide that are higher than what is prescribed in the UK when Ozempic® is used for weight loss, so your experience might differ. Read more about the results you might expect when taking Ozempic® .

There’s no set amount of weight loss that indicates you’re ready to stop using Ozempic®. If you’re taking it and it’s working, and any side effects you’re getting are tolerable, your prescriber will generally recommend that you stay on it.  

How long do most people stay on Ozempic®?

Because Ozempic® is licensed as a drug for type 2 diabetes, most of the studies we have about how long people stay on it outside of a clinical trial setting look at those with the condition.  

In these studies, most people took semaglutide for at least a year. But from these results, we can’t necessarily say how long someone taking Ozempic® for weight loss might stay on it for.  


Why do people stop taking Ozempic®?

There are plenty of reasons why someone might stop taking a drug. They might experience side effects that bother them, for example, or no longer be able to access the drug due to costs or supply issues.  

But whatever your reason, you should always speak with your prescriber before you stop taking Ozempic®.  

Side effects

Studies show that while side effects are fairly common in people taking semaglutide, symptoms are usually mild or moderate and tend to clear up on their own.

Again, everyone is different, and some people might experience more troublesome side effects than others. In some cases, symptoms can be serious and call for a visit to the doctor. Read our complete guide to Ozempic® side effects to learn more.  

You’ve plateaued

A weight loss plateau is a normal part of any weight loss journey, but can be disheartening all the same. This is when you stop losing weight—and so you might mistakenly think that the drug isn’t working.  

But in fact, this is your body reacting to the changes brought on by your drop in weight. For example, as you lose weight your body requires less energy to function normally, which could cause your metabolism to slow down. This makes it harder to burn calories.  

Another theory is that when you lose an amount of weight that’s below what your body thinks is “normal”, it goes into survival mode and sends signals to try and get you to put the weight back on.  

Plateaus don’t last forever, and as frustrating as they can be, it’s important to keep up your healthy habits throughout. They aren’t a sign of failure—they’re just another stage in your journey.  

You aren’t getting results

If you’ve lost less than 5% of your body weight after being on your maintenance dose for six months, it might be recommended that you stop taking Ozempic®.  

Your maintenance dose is the strength of the drug that allows it to have the effect that we want it to. With Ozempic®, it could be 0.5 mg or 1.0 mg semaglutide.  

You’ll gradually work up to your maintenance dose when taking Ozempic®, starting on 0.25 mg so your body gets used to it, and increasing every four weeks as needed. Once you’ve hit your maintenance dose, you’ll stay on it for the rest of your time using Ozempic®.  

What happens when I stop taking Ozempic®?

Simply put: when you stop taking a drug, it stops having an effect on your body.  

After your last dose, it will take one week for half of the Ozempic® in your system to get flushed out. This is why the drug is meant to be taken weekly: you top up levels of the drug in your body when they dip, so that it keeps working like it’s supposed to. Within a week of your final injection, the drug’s effects will generally start to dwindle.  

Once you stop taking Ozempic®, there is a chance you’ll regain some of the weight you’ve lost. Ideally, the healthy habits you’ve formed while taking the drug will have become a regular part of your routine by then, which can help to mitigate this.  

Is Ozempic® right for me?

As with any prescription drug, your healthcare provider will make the call as to whether Ozempic® is suitable for you.  

But generally speaking, if you have a BMI of 30 or higher along with at least one other health issue that’s related to your weight, Ozempic® may be beneficial. People with certain ethnic backgrounds may be eligible with a BMI of 27 or higher.  

Ozempic® is not recommended for everyone: people with type 1 diabetes, and who are pregnant or breastfeeding, shouldn’t take it. Tell your prescriber if you have a history of problems with your pancreas, kidneys, or thyroid before you take the drug.  

For those who are eligible to take it, semaglutide has been shown to be effective in supporting weight loss when used alongside changes to diet and exercise habits. But because of how Ozempic® is licensed, unless you have type 2 diabetes it’s only available in the UK via private prescription.  

You can get a prescription for weight loss medication like Ozempic® through our weight loss programme. Once we’ve assessed your suitability, you’ll receive a repeat prescription plus regular check-ins and weekly advice from a dietician to help you make meaningful lifestyle changes. This way, you’ll learn to make changes that last and lose weight sustainably.  

Check your eligibility for the programme by filling out this short form. It takes less than five minutes.