What happens when you stop taking Ozempic?

Yael Cooperman, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Amelia Willson 

Yael Cooperman, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Amelia Willson 

last updated: Dec 07, 2023

8 min read

Key takeaways

  • It takes about 5 weeks after your last dose for Ozempic to completely leave your system.

  • Roughly a week after your last dose, your appetite will likely start to increase and you won’t feel full as quickly, which can lead to some weight regain.

  • If you take Ozempic for type 2 diabetes, your body may have a tougher time managing your blood sugar levels upon stopping the injections.

  • Stopping Ozempic or other weight loss drugs should be a decision you should come to with the help of your healthcare provider.

If you take Ozempic for type 2 diabetes or weight loss, you might be concerned about what could happen if you stop taking the drug. Like many prescription medications, stopping a drug like Ozempic, or lowering its dose, can come with effects on your health.

Sometimes drug shortages, changes to your insurance coverage or your financial situation, and other circumstances beyond your control force you to stop taking medication abruptly, or take less than you’re used to. However, stopping or reducing your medication should be done under the care of a healthcare provider.

Continue reading if you’re tapering down on Ozempic and want to learn more about Ozempic “withdrawal symptoms”, how to keep the weight off, and more.

Ozempic Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

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How long does Ozempic stay in your system?

How long Ozempic (semaglutide) stays in your system is often a function of your dosage and how long you’ve been on the medication, but overall, you can expect it to stay in your system for up to five weeks after your last dose. The way doctors think about it is this: the medication has a half-life of seven days which means half the drug is cleared from your system every seven days until it becomes undetectable. That means that if you are on a lower dosage (say less than 1 mg weekly), it will be cleared faster than if you’re on a higher dosage (like 2.0 mg). 

If you’re finding it difficult to get access to Ozempic and you have to revert to a lower dosage or skip your medication entirely due to shortages, you may notice your appetite returning or some mild weight gain depending on how long you’re off the medication. 

Consult with your prescribing doctor to see if an alternative medication (such as Zepbound (tirzepatide) or Wegovy) might be a better choice for you, or see if they can prescribe multiples of smaller dosages (e.g. two 1 mg pens instead of one 2 mg pen) to make the medication more readily accessible. 

Zepbound Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

Wegovy Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

4 things that can happen when you stop taking Ozempic 

Ozempic has proven to be a very effective treatment for managing blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes in people with type 2 diabetes, as well as significantly reducing body weight in people with obesity. However, whether due to the costs of Ozempic, the side effects, the drug’s availability, or another reason, some people may want or need to stop taking Ozempic. 

You should always consult your health provider before you stop taking a prescription drug, including Ozempic. Once you stop Ozempic, the benefits from the medication typically decrease within a week after the last injection—which is why Novo Nordisk recommends taking the drug every seven days, on the same day. 

With supply issues and drug shortages, that might not always be possible. If you’re taking Ozempic off-label for weight management, or taking other semaglutide-based drugs, some healthcare providers might recommend that you increase the time between injections. The drawback (more on that below) is that you may experience increased hunger or decreased fullness after day seven following your most recent injection. 

Here’s a look at what can happen when you stop taking Ozempic. 

1. Your appetite will likely come back

The active ingredient in Ozempic — semaglutide — not only stimulates the release of insulin. It also slows down gastric emptying, so you feel full faster. It’s also thought to further reduce appetite by interacting with areas of the brain in charge of feeling full and satisfied.

When you stop taking Ozempic, that interaction no longer happens. When you start to have less medication in your system, your appetite will likely start to increase (which may lead to weight gain). You won’t feel full as quickly, and you’ll stay hungry longer. 

2. You’ll probably regain some of the weight you lost

Ozempic should be part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes diet and exercise, so keeping up with your diet and exercise routine can help prevent some of the rebound weight gain that can happen when you stop taking Ozempic. However, your appetite and food cravings will return, so you will likely regain some of the weight you lost on Ozempic. 

For example, one study found that within 68 weeks of taking the highest weekly dose of semaglutide (2.4mg per week) individuals lost an average of 17.3% of their body weight. One year after they stopped taking the drug, they regained two-thirds of that weight. It’s important to note that those who regained two-thirds of that weight also stopped lifestyle interventions in addition to stopping the drug. 

The amount of weight gain you may experience depends on how long you were on the medication, how much weight you lost, and how long you stopped the medication.

3. The appearance of Ozempic face may go away

Ozempic face” is a nonmedical term that describes the gaunt, wrinkled appearance your face can take on when you lose a significant amount of weight in a short period of time. The drooping or sagging of the facial skin occurs because your face holds a lot of fatty tissue, which gives your face volume. But when you lose weight, these fat cells shrink faster than the skin on top of them, resulting in a wrinkled appearance.

While “Ozempic face” occurs with any kind of weight loss — particularly rapid weight loss — it has become associated with Ozempic or other GLP1 medications due to the drug going viral on TikTok and social media for its weight loss effects. Facial fillers can help restore the volume that occurs with weight loss. However, if you regain weight after stopping Ozempic, some of that weight will return to your face, reducing the appearance of “Ozempic face”.

4. You may experience more blood sugar spikes

As a diabetes drug, Ozempic helps people with type 2 diabetes keep their blood sugar levels in check. When blood sugar climbs after a sugary meal, Ozempic encourages the pancreas to release more insulin to bring it back down. 

If you have type 2 diabetes and you stop taking Ozempic, your body may have a tougher time managing your blood sugar levels, which can lead to blood sugar spikes.

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Ozempic withdrawal symptoms

While stopping Ozempic won’t lead to withdrawal symptoms in the sense that you are craving the medication because you are addicted to it (Ozempic is not addictive), you may experience other medical complications once you stop taking the medication, as mentioned above. If you take Ozempic for diabetes, you will most likely experience sudden changes in your blood sugar levels as a “withdrawal symptom”. You may also begin to notice weight gain and your appetite coming back.

Keeping weight off after Ozempic

Weight loss can offer a number of benefits for people dealing with excess weight and obesity, including improved self-esteem, quality of life, and mitigating medical conditions linked to excess weight, like high blood pressure. If for whatever reason you need to stop Ozempic, there are steps you can take to keep the weight off. 

Stick to your exercise routine

Ozempic is most effective when combined with diet and exercise. Maintaining your exercise routine can help you prevent rebound weight gain after stopping Ozempic. Regular exercise lowers body weight by decreasing body fat and improving muscle mass

Exercise provides additional benefits to people with type 2 diabetes, such as improved blood pressure and insulin sensitivity, as well as reduced cardiovascular risk.

Follow a healthy diet

While there is no official diabetes diet, avoiding certain eating behaviors and foods — and replacing them with healthier ones — can help you manage both your blood sugar levels and body weight. 

For example, health experts recommend people avoid fatty, fried foods and so-called high glycemic foods like sugars, starches, and refined carbohydrates. Eating more whole foods with high fiber, lots of protein, and a low glycemic index can help you feel full sooner and longer, staving off cravings and weight gain.

Consider Ozempic alternatives 

Around one in four people with type 2 diabetes taking a GLP-1 medication like Ozempic switch to an alternative within a year of starting treatment. If Ozempic wasn’t a good fit for you, it’s possible that an Ozempic alternative could be. 

Ozempic is one of several GLP-1 receptor agonists, a drug class that can treat type 2 diabetes and weight loss and includes Bydureon, Victoza, Saxenda, Mounjaro, Tanzeum, Trulicity, and Wegovy. These medications improve blood glucose control and slow digestion, which can reduce appetite and lead to weight loss. These can have slightly different side effects and be tolerated differently by different people, so it may be worth talking to your health provider about another option.

Saxenda Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

Mounjaro Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

Wegovy Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

Follow weight loss best practices

Every weight loss journey is unique to the individual. However, there are some tried and true techniques that many find effective when managing their weight. Consider whether any of the following weight loss steps may be helpful for you.

  • Set specific, sustainable goals that focus on health, rather than weight loss. For example, strive to exercise a set number of days per week, eat a certain number of fruits each day, or limit your alcohol intake. 

  • Find ways to stay motivated. Try pairing your treadmill exercise with a favorite podcast, tracking your weight, or asking a friend to help you stay on track. Remember to celebrate the small wins along the way.

  • Sleep well. Poor sleep is associated with higher body weight, increased appetite, and reduced insulin sensitivity. Plus, with better sleep, you’ll feel more energized and positive, which helps you stay motivated and stick to your weight loss plan.

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water is essential for our survival, but research suggests that it also helps with skin health, weight management, cognition, and mood. Keep water by your side and drink it throughout the day.

Do the side effects of Ozempic go away after stopping? 

Around one in three people experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when taking Ozempic. If you’re one of those people, the side effects should stop once you stop taking the drug. 

To minimize side effects, health providers usually start Ozempic at the lowest dose and slowly titrate up the dosage. Side effects are more common when taking higher doses of Ozempic and when increasing your dose. For many, the side effects range from mild to moderate, and become less intense and common as their body gets used to the drug. However, for around 4% of people, the side effects can be bothersome enough to lead them to stop taking Ozempic.

You may be able to minimize the side effects of Ozempic by avoiding certain foods while taking Ozempic, such as refined carbohydrates, alcohol, and fried, greasy, or sugary foods and drinks. Also, adjusting your eating habits can mitigate side effects. Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Ozempic, recommends eating smaller portions, eating more slowly, drinking ice-cold water, and not lying down after meals.

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When should you stop Ozempic? 

For most people, stopping Ozempic (or any medication that’s meant to be taken long term) abruptly without a medical reason is not ideal. Stopping Ozempic is not directly harmful, but you may begin to notice weight gain. That’s why stopping Ozempic or other weight loss drugs should be a decision you should come to with the help of your healthcare provider. If your health provider agrees it’s time to stop taking Ozempic, they will provide you with instructions for tapering off your dose. 

In general, you should not stop taking Ozempic without consulting a healthcare provider first. However, there are a few exceptions. For example, if you plan to get pregnant, the FDA recommends stopping Ozempic at least two months before you get pregnant to ensure the semaglutide fully washes out of your system. Also, if you notice any of the following serious side effects, you should stop taking Ozempic and consult a health professional immediately:

  • Severe abdominal pain, with or without vomiting

  • Changes in vision

  • Signs of low blood sugar, such as dizziness, sweating, confusion, slurred speech, rapid heartbeat, mood changes, weakness, or feeling jittery or shaky

  • Kidney failure

  • Itching, rash, or difficulty breathing, which may indicate a serious allergic reaction to Ozempic

Studies have shown that obesity is a chronic condition, best managed with long-term pharmacological treatment, much like high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you need to keep taking your medication to keep your blood pressure down—and the same idea applies to treating overweight and obesity with Ozempic. You'll need to stay on the drug to keep seeing weight loss effects from Ozempic. 

If you are worried about a potential gap in your treatment or want to stop taking Ozempic,reach out to your healthcare provider. They will work with you to decide whether it makes sense to change your care plan and how to do so safely.


If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

December 07, 2023

Written by

Amelia Willson

Fact checked by

Yael Cooperman, MD

About the medical reviewer

Yael Cooperman is a physician and works as a Senior Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.

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