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Navigating Weight Loss: Decoding the Differences Between Saxenda vs. Wegovy

Medically reviewed by: Melissa A. Delgado, MD, FACOG

Melissa A. Delgado, MD, FACOG is the founder and owner of The Chronic Pelvic Pain Center of Northern Virginia. Dr. Delgado is an experienced, board-certified OB/GYN and has spent the past 10 years dedicating her time to understanding complex and persistent pelvic pain.

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Today, we’d like to unravel the complexities of metabolic health and delve into the world of Wegovy® (semaglutide) and Saxenda® (liraglutide) — two prominent GLP-1 medications designed to combat excess weight and obesity. 

As you embark on your journey toward optimal health, it's crucial to understand the nuances of Saxenda vs. Wegovy — what sets these medications apart, and which might be the right fit for you.


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What Are Wegovy and Saxenda?

At first glance, Saxenda and Wegovy seem very similar. And in many ways, they are: both fall under the GLP-1 receptor agonist category. These drugs work by mimicking the body's natural GLP-1 hormone. 

GLP-1 plays a crucial role in regulating appetite and managing blood sugar levels. Research indicates that overweight individuals may experience diminished natural GLP-1 signaling, contributing to overeating and increased hunger between meals.

GLP-1 medications like Wegovy and Saxenda are used to promote effective regulation of blood sugars. But it's crucial to remember these medications aren't a magic weight loss silver bullet. They complement lifestyle changes encompassing exercise, healthy food choices, stress reduction, and quality sleep.

Comparing the Active Ingredients: Liraglutide vs. Semaglutide

So, what is the major difference between Saxenda and Wegovy?

Their active compounds.

Saxenda contains liraglutide, while Wegovy’s active ingredient is semaglutide. Don't be overwhelmed by the scientific jargon. What matters is that both medications have undergone rigorous FDA scrutiny and approval — first for diabetes, and now for weight management.

What are they indicated for?

Both Wegovy and Saxenda are manufactured by Novo Nordisk. Their FDA-approved indications for weight management provide a roadmap for those on a metabolic reset journey. 

Saxenda targets adults with a BMI ≥27 (overweight) who have weight-related medical issues or those with a BMI ≥30 (obese) in general.

Wegovy is meant for adults with a BMI ≥30 or ≥27 if coupled with at least one weight-related comorbidity. So they’re fairly similar.

Understanding the dosing schedules of Wegovy and Saxenda is essential to properly using them for weight loss. While Saxenda demands daily self-administration, Wegovy is significantly more convenient with a once-weekly dosage. Your healthcare provider can tailor your personal regimen based on your health history and medication tolerance.

Saxenda vs. Wegovy: Which Is Better?

Of course, you probably want to know only one thing above all else right now: which medication is better (and safer) for weight loss?

Unfortunately, the answer depends heavily on you. Different people can react very differently to medications. What works for your friend, colleague, or family member might not work for you. 

Semaglutide, the star ingredient in Wegovy, boasts a longer duration of action than liraglutide, making it more convenient for many. 

Recent research, including a 2022 JAMA study, also hints at Wegovy having an edge in terms of results, showcasing greater weight loss over 68 weeks compared to Saxenda. 

Specifically, the study participants on Wegovy reported significantly greater weight loss with semaglutide over liraglutide when added to counseling for diet and physical activity.

Several other clinical trials demonstrated that Wegovy induces an average weight loss of 15.8% after 68 weeks, whereas Saxenda achieves a clinically significant weight loss of 8% in the same timeframe.

However, these studies solely focus on weight loss, not overall metabolic health. It’s important to note that both Saxenda and Wegovy can improve metabolic health by regulating hunger signals and overall metabolic function.

Using Wegovy and Saxenda Together?

Curiosity may lead you to wonder whether using Wegovy and Saxenda concurrently is a good idea. Does it double your ability to lose weight?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. While GLP-1 medications share the same mechanism of action, they don't necessarily synergize when used together. 

What’s more, using more than one prescription weight loss medication (on top of any other prescriptions you might be taking) could lead to unforeseen side effects.

Weight Loss as a Byproduct of a Healthy Lifestyle

As you embark on your weight loss journey, keep in mind that Wegovy and Saxenda might not be the perfect fit for everyone.

The Wegovy vs. Saxenda debate isn't so much about superiority as it is about finding what aligns with your medical history, health profile, and overall well-being.

The road to consistent, long-term weight loss and improved metabolic health is multifaceted. The answer lies not just in the medications you take, but also in embracing holistic lifestyle changes that support your weight loss goals. 

Remember that your personal weight loss journey is as unique as you are. 

Consult with your healthcare provider or even seek a second opinion before deciding on the prescription weight loss medication best suited to your unique needs and health insurance coverage.


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