The secrets to avoiding a saggy and gaunt ‘Ozempic face’

skin elasticity
Simply put, 'Ozempic face' refers to facial sagging caused by a marked loss of facial fat - Getty

This week food giant Nestlé unveiled its plans to launch products to complement weight loss, including collagen supplements to help with ‘Ozempic face’. Put simply, this is shorthand for the gaunt lower face, hollowed cheeks, pronounced jawline and overall facial sagging caused by a marked loss of facial fat. This is one of the side effects of semaglutide drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy, and many aesthetic doctors and aestheticians are noticing the impact with their clients.

Last year Sharon Osbourne, 71, spoke out about the side effects of having taken Ozempic, saying she now feels ‘too gaunt’. “I can’t put any weight on. I want to, because I feel I’m too skinny. I can’t afford to lose any more,” she said in an interview with the Daily Mail.

“We’re definitely seeing a trend in patients requesting treatment after losing too much weight from their face,” explains Dr Ashwin Soni, a reconstructive and plastic surgeon who now also works in injectables. Soni has found many patients who take Ozempic will notice a deflated appearance in the face and neck, increased laxity in the skin and more fine lines and wrinkles within several months of being on the medication. “They feel more confident in their body as they’ve lost the extra weight, but have lost confidence in their face because a little fat in the face gives a more youthful appearance,” he adds.

Sharon Osbourne spoke out last year about the effects using Ozempic had on her face
Sharon Osbourne has spoken publicly about how using Ozempic has made her feel 'too gaunt' - Getty

The leading aesthetician Teresa Tarmey has noticed a dramatic shift in what many of her clients in their 40s and 50s are asking for in treatment. One client of hers lost eight kilos in a month on Ozempic and has already noticed a dramatic change in her facial structure. So in demand are solutions for ‘Ozempic face’ in her clinic, Tarmey is working on a special treatment menu designed to work on the sagging of the skin, combining microcurrent and fractional laser in one session.

Sales of obesity injections have surged over the past year, with around one in four US adults having taken a GLP-1 treatment, and in the UK, as many as 50,000 people are expected to be eligible for semaglutide drugs on the NHS.

If you are considering it or on the medication yourself, we’ve spoken to the experts on how to remedy and improve the look of ‘Ozempic face’ if you’ve had a period of dramatic weight loss.

Start with good skincare

The best way to futureproof your skin from any of the sagging effects from weight loss is to put it in its best condition before you begin any semaglutide drugs. “We want the skin to be healthy and it’ll likely respond better once the weight loss starts to happen,” explains Dr Anjali Mahto, a consultant dermatologist. She points out that if you are not already using a retinoid into your skincare routine, now’s the time.

“Retinoids, which are derivatives of vitamin A, significantly boost collagen production, enhance cell turnover and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” she says. “By promoting the renewal of skin cells, retinoids help to restore skin elasticity and firmness, addressing the gaunt look caused by rapid weight loss.”

Retinoids can improve the overall skin texture and tone, and regular use of retinoid-based products can substantially rejuvenate and strengthen the skin which can go some way in counteracting some of the facial fat loss that comes with rapid weight loss. “There is a limit to what can be achieved, though,” says Mahto. Try Vitamin A Power 1 Serum £90 by Sarah Chapman.

Kick start your collagen

The treatment Dr Soni is recommending to many of his patients who lose a large amount of weight is Sculptra. This is a collagen biostimulant, which when injected into different points in the face helps to encourage the body to create more collagen. “The product can stimulate collagen by 67 per cent in three months so that huge burst of collagen helps to give the face a bit of a lift and improves your skin quality overall,” says Soni.

He’s so taken by the results, Soni is dubbing Sculptra his ‘non-surgical face lift’, and it can be injected into the cheeks, temples and neck. You’d usually need two or three sessions spaced a few weeks apart, and results last up to two years. But don’t expect any instant lift: because this treatment is encouraging your own collagen to work harder, it usually takes two to three months to see the best results. From £500 a session, available nationwide.

As for collagen-boosting supplements, dermatologist Mahto questions their effectiveness. “The evidence supporting collagen supplements is significantly lacking, and therefore I do not advise them to my patients,” she says.

Work on the muscles

“We have been seeing the effects of Ozempic in our clinic for around a year,” says Tarmey. “There’s no getting around the side effects of weight loss, because we don’t have a lot of fat in the face as it is. What we can do to help strengthen the skin and improve the health of the skin to support the structure of the face,” she says. In her clinic, Tarmey will often utilise a combination of radiofrequency (which heats up subdermal tissue to help boost collagen levels) as well as muscle contractions using a device called FaceStim (£350 for one session).

“We also need to focus on the neck area at the same time as the skin can become looser and look crepey,” she says. Teresa also suggests that you don’t wait until you’ve finished your Ozempic course to seek treatment in the face: time is of the essence, so begin having treatments early into your course, if possible. “It’s like going to the gym while you’re trying to lose weight: you’ll have a much better outcome in the long term,” she points out.

Dr Mahto uses the Sofwave device in her clinic for patients who have experienced lower facial gauntness. This device uses ultrasound technology to stimulate collagen production and improve skin elasticity. “This, in turn, can help with skin firmness and tightness,” she explains.

Add volume with filler

In April this year the Swiss skincare company Galderma said it was expecting a boom in demand for fillers as more people start to take obesity treatments but do not want to lose weight from their faces. It’s a demand that clinicians are already noticing from patients.

Dermal filler
Dermal fillers can be effective in restoring lost facial volume - Getty

“When used correctly, dermal fillers can be very effective for restoring lost volume and contouring the face, particularly in the cheeks and jawline which tends to suffer the most with rapid weight loss,” says Mahto. “The rapid reduction in subcutaneous fat can accentuate fine lines and wrinkles, making the skin appear more aged.” In the right hands, you can make the most immediate difference to volume loss in the face with dermal filler.