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Orlistat
Orlistat Capsules
Orlistat (also available as branded Xenical) is a weight loss treatment that reduces how much fat is absorbed from food. It’s taken by mouth with meals.
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What is orlistat?

Orlistat (also available as the branded treatment Xenical) is a treatment that comes in the form of capsules. It can help support weight loss when taken alongside healthy eating and lifestyle choices.

Orlistat and Xenical are the same medicine, but Xenical is a branded version. Both treatments contain orlistat 120 mg and work in exactly the same way. Orlistat tends to be significantly cheaper as it doesn’t have the branding.

Our clinicians can prescribe both orlistat and Xenical, as well as other weight loss medicines, so whatever treatment is right for you, we can help. To find out more about the treatments we offer to support weight loss, take a look at our weight loss service page.

What is orlistat used for?

Orlistat (or Xenical) 120mg is a prescription treatment that can help you to lose weight when taken as part of a healthy eating plan and exercise.

How does orlistat work?

Orlistat helps with weight loss by reducing the amount of fat absorbed by your body. Instead of storing the fat, this medicine allows your body to pass fat through the bowel and out of your system.

Orlistat does this by attaching to an enzyme found in the digestive system called lipase. It stops lipase from breaking down fat from your meal. This means less fat is digested by your body, leaving through the stools instead.

For maximum effectiveness, orlistat must be used alongside a reduced calorie diet (with no more than 30% of your calories from fat) and increased movement. This will also help you to minimise any unpleasant side effects.

How to take orlistat?

Orlistat or Xenical is taken as one pill up to three times a day. You should take the pill with water, immediately before, during, or up to 1 hour after each main meal. If you miss a meal or your meal doesn’t contain any fat, then you should not take a dose of orlistat.

Orlistat dosage

Each orlistat or Xenical pill contains a dosage of 120mg orlistat. Each orlistat pill lasts for one meal and can be taken up to three times a day with your main meals.

Is orlistat effective?

When you first start taking orlistat, it will start to work straight away although it might take 24-48 hours before you notice the fat leaving your body through your stools. Taken alongside healthy diet and lifestyle choices, you should begin to see results within a few weeks.

If you haven’t lost up to 5% of your body weight after taking orlistat for three months, you should stop taking this medicine.

There are other treatments available to support your weight loss journey if orlistat isn’t effective for you. One of our clinical team will be able to help you find an alternative medicine if you’d like to try something else.

What are the main side effects of orlistat?

Orlistat comes with some potential side effects. The most common are: headache; anxiety; abdominal pain, oily stool and leakage from the rectum; faecal urgency (urgently needing to empty your bowels), liquid stools, excess wind; oily staining on underwear.

For more information about orlistat or Xenical, please see the Patient Information Leaflet.

What else should I know about orlistat?

Please note, orlistat might affect the absorption of other medicines. Make sure not to take orlistat with other medicines (leave a space of at least two hours before or after taking orlistat to take your other medicines). If you experience severe diarrhoea on orlistat or Xenical and you’re taking an oral contraceptive, your contraceptive pill may be less effective. Make sure to use an alternative contraception as well if this is the case.

What are alternative weight loss treatments?

Our clinical team can prescribe a range of treatments to support weight loss. Other treatments including Saxenda, Wegovy and Mounjaro are injection pens that work in a different way to orlistat by helping you feel fuller and reducing your appetite. Contact us to discuss with the clinical team which treatment may be best suited to you.

See what treatment we can offer for weight loss.

What are the non-drug alternatives to orlistat?

If you don’t want to take orlistat or any other treatment for weight loss, we can help you manage your weight with our free 10-week weight loss programme. We also offer free live weight loss webinars for extra support on your weight loss journey.

Click here to register for our next webinars.

How do I get the best results when taking orlistat?

To get the best results from orlistat, it should be combined with increased exercise and healthy eating. Your diet should also provide you with slightly fewer calories than you burn overall.

As orlistat blocks the absorption of some of the fat from a meal, which is then removed from your body in your stools, you should try to eat less than 15g of fat per meal. This will help to increase weight loss as well as reduce the risks of side effects, such as diarrhoea.

For more advice, see our recommended healthy eating plans to help you lose weight.

Can I buy orlistat online?

You can buy orlistat 120mg online but you’ll need a prescription. At Boots Online Doctor, our friendly, experienced clinical team is just a few clicks away and can prescribe orlistat if suitable for you without the need for an appointment.

Simply fill out our quick online questionnaire and get the weight loss treatment you need without the hassle of waiting rooms or needing to talk to anyone directly.

You can get started here.

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