PRESCRIPTION WEIGHT LOSS TREATMENT FACTS
PRESCRIPTION WEIGHT LOSS TREATMENT FACTS
WHAT MEDICINES CAN HELP ME MANAGE MY WEIGHT?
We can currently prescribe Wegovy, Saxenda, Orlistat or Xenical to help you lose weight.
Wegovy and Saxenda work by helping you feel fuller for longer. They are both self-injected medicines. Wegovy only needs to be injected once a week, whereas Saxenda is injected daily. Find out more on our dedicated pages for Wegovy and Saxenda.
Orlistat and Xenical both work by helping your body get rid of the extra fat in your diet.
While you’re taking any of these medicines, you also need to make changes to your diet and habits around activity, sleep and relaxation in order to lose weight and keep it off long term.
How do the treatments work?
Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide) work by reducing your appetite and making you feel fuller. You inject both of these treatments under your skin using an injection pen. Wegovy is injected once a week – watch our video on how to inject Wegovy. Saxenda is a daily injection – watch our video on how to inject Saxenda.
How do I take weight loss medicine?
If you’re prescribed Wegovy or Saxenda, you’ll need to inject the medicine just under the skin. You’ll probably find this is easier than you first think. Wegovy should be injected once a week, on the same day and at around the same time. Saxenda should be injected once a day, at around the same time. Best injection sites are your tummy area (abdomen), the front of your thighs or your upper arm. Wegovy and Saxenda need to be stored in the fridge before first use. Once you start using the pen, you can keep it for one month (or 6 weeks for Wegovy) either at room temperature (2 to 30°C) or in a fridge (2°C to 8°C). Do not freeze.
Orlistat and Xenical are capsule medicines. You take a single capsule with water, immediately before or up to one hour after a main meal. You can take your prescribed treatment up to three times a day. If you miss a meal, or have a meal that does not contain fat, you should not take Orlistat or Xenical at that time.
What are the side effects?
These medicines have some potential side effects. These include headaches and increased anxiety.
With Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide) the common side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and constipation, heartburn and headache. There can also be an increased risk of gallstones. Uncommonly, there is a risk of pancreatitis, and rarely, allergic reactions. For more information on these side effects, see our Wegovy and Saxenda side effects page.
There are also some common side effects with Orlistat or Xenical that are caused by the extra fat being passed out through your stool. These include abdominal pain, oily diarrhoea, the urgent need to use the toilet, wind, and anal leakage. When used with the recommended low fat approach to your meals, these side effects can be reduced. There can also be headaches and increased anxiety.
For the full information on a medicine’s side effects and how to take it, it’s important to read the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with your medicine.
How quickly does weight loss treatment work?
Both Orlistat and Xenical treatments start to work the first time you take a tablet with a meal. It will block some of the fat from being absorbed by the body.
Wegovy and Saxenda start working straight away, and you could see or feel the effects within 2 to 4 weeks.
How long does it take to lose weight with weight loss treatment?
If you take your treatment as recommended with a healthy food plan, you can expect to lose at least 5% of your body weight over three months. It’s important to remember that although these medicines can help, changing your lifestyle and eating habits is what will sustain a healthy weight long term.
Important safety information
Please tell us which other medicines you’re taking — whether they’re prescription or medicines you’ve bought without a prescription. We need to know so that we can prescribe treatment, if it’s suitable for you. If you’re taking certain medicines or living with certain medical conditions, this service might not be suitable for you.
DO YOU PRESCRIBE OTHER WEIGHT LOSS MEDICINES?
We currently prescribe Wegovy, Saxenda, Orlistat and Xenical.
Wegovy (semaglutide) is the newest weight loss treatment we prescribe and works similarly to Saxenda. It’s an injection you give yourself once a week that helps to reduce hunger and aid weight loss alongside a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity. In clinical trials, patients experienced significant weight loss. Find out more about Wegovy.
Other medicines you might have heard of include Ozempic and Rybelsus. These are currently licensed to treat type 2 diabetes. These treatments have the same active ingredient as Wegovy (semaglutide) and are sometimes prescribed off-label to support weight loss. We aren’t currently offering these treatments. Due to supply shortages these medicines should be prioritised for diabetes treatment.
What are my options if I don’t want medicine?
There are things you can do to manage your weight without medicine. Improving your diet and increasing your activity can both help with weight loss and help you to live a healthier, happier life.
At Boots Online Doctor, we don’t just stop with medicine. Check out our free online webinars where our Lifestyle Medicine team offers expert advice on weight loss. We also have a free 10-week weight loss programme filled with helpful videos and articles to support you achieve a healthier, happier weight. Other support resources to help you reach and maintain your weight loss goals, including a dedicated lifestyle hub, are coming soon.
Keeping you safe
If you do not feel safe, are experiencing abuse or control, or have experienced this in the past, please find support below or send us a message:
- Ask for ANI at your local Boots pharmacy
- Contact National Domestic Abuse helpline 24/7 on 0808 2000 247 (Women)
- Contact Men’s Advice Line mensadviceline.org.uk on 0808 8010 327 (Men)
- Look at www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/abuse/
- Emergency situation dial 999, speak, cough or tap, then speak or press 55 when through to the police
Page last reviewed by: Dr. Christina Hennessey 23/08/2021