Skip to main content

Understanding the Link Between Weight Loss Medications and Gallstones

By June 19, 2024June 20th, 2024Weight loss drugs
Auckland Gallbladder Surgery gallstones pain

In recent years, several new medications have emerged to aid in weight loss, including Ozempic (semaglutide), Wegovy, Saxenda, and Trulicity. These medications have shown promising results in helping individuals achieve significant weight reduction. However, alongside their benefits, there are potential risks that users should be aware of, including the development of gallstones.

More about the pros and cons of Ozempic

The connection between Ozempic and gallstones

Ozempic, a popular weight loss and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) medication, has been associated with an increased risk of gallstones (cholelithiasis) in clinical studies. Here’s what the research tells us:

  • Ozempic use in type 2 diabetes patients 
    In clinical studies, 1.5% of people using Ozempic at a 0.5 mg dose developed gallstones, while 0.4% of those using a 1 mg dose experienced this issue.
  • Children vs adults
    Children aged 12 and older taking Ozempic for weight loss were found to have a higher incidence of gallstones compared to adults on the same treatment.
  • Incidence in adults
    When adults used Ozempic for weight management, 1.6% reported developing gallstones. This is higher than the 0.7% occurrence in those taking a placebo.
  • Impact of rapid weight loss
    Substantial or rapid weight loss can lead to a higher risk of gallstones. Even after considering weight loss, patients on Ozempic had a higher rate of acute gallbladder disease compared to those on a placebo.
  • Ongoing monitoring
    After Ozempic was made available to the public, there have been instances of patients needing gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy).

These findings underscore the importance of monitoring gallbladder health in patients using Ozempic and similar medications.

Addressing gallstone risks

For individuals on these medications, it’s crucial to be aware of the symptoms of gallstones, which can include severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and jaundice. Early detection and treatment are vital to prevent complications.

New service for gallstone diagnosis and treatment

Understanding the growing need for specialised care in this area, we are pleased to announce a new service offering fast access to gallstone diagnosis and treatment. Our dedicated team at Auckland Gallbladder Surgery is equipped with the latest diagnostic tools and treatment options to ensure you receive timely and effective care.

Stay informed

While weight loss medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, Saxenda, and Trulicity offer significant benefits, it’s important to be mindful of potential side effects, including the risk of gallstones. By staying informed and proactive about your health, and by taking advantage of specialised services like ours, you can safely manage your weight and overall well-being.

For more information on gallstones and our new diagnostic and treatment services, visit Auckland Gallbladder Surgery.