Our Treatments: Liraglutide (Saxenda/Victoza)

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This content was reviewed and approved for its accuracy on 16/11/2021 by Professor Frank Joseph

Photograph of Professor Frank Joseph, weight loss expert for myBMI

Saxenda Weight Loss Injections

Saxenda, which uses an active ingredient called Liraglutide, is a relatively new type of weight-loss treatment and it’s already proved to be very effective.

 

Naturally, it’s sparked a lot of interest from those who want to lose weight but have found that they’ve struggled with diets and other weight-loss treatments.

 

Keep reading to learn more about this fascinating medication, how it works, and how much weight loss you could see if this treatment is right for you.

What is Saxenda?

Saxenda is a weight loss treatment that helps to reduce your appetite and makes it easier for you to stick to a calorie-controlled diet.

 

It’s prescribed to people who have a BMI of 30 and above or to people with a BMI of 27 and above who are at risk of weight-related illnesses like type 2 diabetes.

 

Saxenda is provided in a handy pen that you’ll use to inject your dose every day, a process that is much simpler than it sounds and makes it easier than ever to take control of your treatment.

Are Saxenda and Victoza the same thing?

Saxenda and Victoza are two different treatments that both use the same active ingredient — Liraglutide.

 

This means that they work in the exact same way, but the difference is what they’re used for.

 

Liraglutide was first developed to be used as a diabetes medication, which is when Victoza came to market.

 

It’s proved to be a very effective diabetes treatment, but many patients found that it also helped to reduce their appetite, which is why Saxenda was developed as a weight-loss treatment.

 

Although they use the same active ingredient, Saxenda and Victoza can’t be used interchangeably, as they’re prescribed in different doses and are used for completely different reasons.

How does Liraglutide work?

Liraglutide is a type of medication called a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist or GLP-1 receptor agonist, placing it in the same group of drugs as Semaglutide.

 

This type of drug works by increasing the amount of insulin produced in your pancreas while reducing the amount of glucagon it produces at the same time.

 

Insulin helps your body regulate your blood sugar, and by increasing your insulin production Liraglutide helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable and helps to keep you feeling satisfied for longer after a meal.

 

Liraglutide leads to weight loss by slowing the emptying of the stomach and by affecting the satiety or fullness centre in the brain making the person feel more satisfied and full on much less food.

 

This is ideal if you’ve struggled to keep up with diets in the past, as it will help to reduce your cravings and keep you feeling full after you eat.

How much weight can you lose on Saxenda?

When you’re taking the highest daily dose of Saxenda, which is 3mg of Liraglutide a day, you can lose at least 5% of your starting weight within 12 weeks.

 

This means that if you start your treatment weighing 240 pounds, you should lose at least 12 pounds within 12 weeks of taking the 3mg daily dose.

 

After this, it’s all down to the lifestyle changes you make, like the changes to your diet and exercise routines that make your weight loss last.

Do I need to diet when I'm injecting Saxenda?

If you want to lose weight you’ll have to eat at a calorie deficit, which means that you’ll eat fewer calories than your body needs to burn for energy.

 

This still applies if you’re taking Saxenda, but the difference is that this treatment helps to reduce your appetite and make you feel fuller for longer.

 

Naturally, this will make it easier for you to stick to a lower-calorie diet and make the lifestyle choices you’ll need to lose weight.

 

So yes, you will need to change your diet, but Saxenda will be there to lend a helping hand along the way.

Does Saxenda have side effects?

Yes, Saxenda can have side effects, but this is no different from any other medication on the market — even paracetamol can have side effects!

 

Of course, some side effects are more common than others, and some are much more serious than others, whether you experience any of them or not will entirely depend on how your body reacts to the treatment.

 

Some of the most common side effects of Liraglutide include:

What dose of Saxenda should I take?

The dose of Saxenda you should be taking depends on what stage you’re at in your treatment.

 

If you’re taking Saxenda for the first time, you should begin with a dose of 0.6mg of Liraglutide a day.

 

Over time, this dose will increase until you’re taking a maximum dose of 3mg a day, gradually moving up through the available doses week by week as your body gets used to the treatment.

 

This process is called titration and it’s used with lots of different medications as a way to assess what strength of treatment is right for you and to keep side effects at a minimum.

 

Here at myBMI, our three-step plan guides you through the titration process, from your initial consultation to maintaining your weight loss over time.

Titration Path

When you first start taking Saxenda, you’ll be taking the lowest possible dose of 0.6mg a day.

 

You’ll usually stay on this dose for a week before increasing and continuing your treatment.

 

The Step stage of our treatment plan walks you through the early titration process, usually taking you from 0.6mg a day up to 1.8mg a day.

 

Of course, this can differ depending on the person, for example, you may need more time to increase your dose as your body gets used to the treatment.

 

Your healthcare team will walk you through your titration and make sure you’re taking the right dose for you, so make sure you always follow their dosage instructions carefully.

When you begin this stage of your treatment, you’ll continue titrating your dosage upwards from 1.8mg a day to 2.4mg a day.

 

By now, you should really start to see the effects of this medication for yourself, whether you’re noticing that your cravings are easier to control, or that you’re seeing results when you step on the scales.

 

By the time you end this stage of treatment, you’ll usually be ready to continue on to the highest dose of Liraglutide.

The Surge step of our titration plan uses the highest possible dose of Liraglutide you can take every day – 3mg.

 

You’ll usually stay on this dose until the end of your treatment, as slowly increasing your dose has prepared your body to handle this higher dose.

 

Within 12 weeks of taking this 3mg dose every day, you should lose at least 5% of your starting weight, so this is when you should start to really notice the results for yourself.

Can I start at the highest dose of Liraglutide?

You shouldn’t start taking the highest possible dose of Liraglutide, no matter how eager you are to lose weight.

 

This is because your body needs time to adjust to the medication, jumping in at the highest dose can leave you experiencing more side effects than you would if you titrated through the doses slowly.

 

Everyone who starts to take Saxenda for weight loss will begin at a daily dose of 0.6mg, which will be enough to start to assess how this treatment is going to work for you, whether you’ll experience any side effects, and how you feel about the process.

 

If you haven’t lost at least 5% of your starting weight by the time you’ve titrated up to the highest possible dose of Liraglutide and stayed at that dose for 12 weeks, this treatment probably isn’t going to work for you and your healthcare team will bring it to an end.

Can I get Saxenda for weight loss on the NHS?

Saxenda is available on the NHS for patients who meet specific criteria your GP would need to see to justify the treatment.

 

Unfortunately, a lot of this can be down to justifying the cost of treatment from your doctor’s point of view, so they have to be sure that their patients meet certain criteria before they’ll write a prescription.

 

These criteria can include:

If your GP can’t prescribe Saxenda for you, hope is not lost!

 

You could still be eligible for treatment from prescribers like the ones we have here at myBMI.

 

You will need to pay for your treatment as this isn’t an NHS prescription, but you will still be able to access Saxenda or another weight loss treatments and get support from our team of healthcare professionals throughout your weight loss journey.

How much does Saxenda cost?

myBMI consultations cost £199*, which includes 28 days’ worth of treatment – this may include Saxenda or other GLP-1 receptor agonists like Semaglutide.

 

One of the benefits of using myBMI is that the price of Saxenda is always the same, no matter which dose you’re prescribed.

 

This is because any treatment we prescribe to you is included in the cost of your consultation.  

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