Can I use Saxenda for weight loss?

saxenda for weight loss
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mandy Liedeman


Saxenda is a weight loss medication that the FDA approved as a higher-strength formulation of liraglutide, approved for treating diabetes type 2 in 2010. Saxenda is the first medication to get FDA approval sanctioned for weight management. Additionally, its approval paved the way for other medications initially intended for Type 2 diabetes treatment to be repurposed for weight loss. So, where does Saxenda stand among the array of weight-loss medicines available? Let’s explore Saxenda’s role in weight loss and evaluate whether it could be a viable option for you.

Is Saxenda suitable for me?

Saxenda is approved for use in specific groups based on body mass index (BMI):

  • Adults with overweight (BMI of 27 or more) and at least one weight-related condition, such as hypertension or Type 2 diabetes
  • Adults with obesity (BMI of 30 or more)
  • Adolescents aged 12 to 17 years with obesity are defined as having a BMI in the 95th percentile or higher for their age and sex.

However, Saxenda is not recommended for individuals with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or those with a rare hereditary endocrine disorder known as multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN 2). Additionally, it is contraindicated during pregnancy and has not been studied for use during lactation.

Before considering Saxenda, it’s crucial to consult your healthcare provider, especially if you have concerns or medical history that may affect its suitability for you. Saxenda should only be pursued as a weight-loss treatment if previous attempts at weight reduction through diet and exercise alone have been unsuccessful.

As for efficacy, individuals undergoing Saxenda treatment can anticipate losing at least 5% of their initial body weight after 12 weeks of daily 3.0mg liraglutide use. Treatment discontinuation may be warranted if this threshold is not achieved within the specified time frame. Always prioritize open communication with your healthcare provider regarding any medication-related decisions.        

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Long-term success with Saxenda

Clinical trial data supports the efficacy of Saxenda in facilitating sustained weight loss. During 56-week trials involving 3,731 participants prescribed Saxenda, an impressive 83% experienced weight reduction. Moreover, a three-year study involving 2,254 individuals revealed promising outcomes. Within the first year, 56% of participants achieved significant weight loss, with approximately half successfully maintaining weight loss over the three years.

These results highlight Saxenda’s potential as a long-term solution for individuals seeking sustained weight management. However, it’s essential to recognize that individual responses to treatment may vary, and adherence to prescribed dosages and lifestyle modifications remains crucial for optimizing outcomes.

How effective is Saxenda for weight loss?

Clinical studies provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of Saxenda for weight management. In a notable clinical trial spanning three years, individuals prescribed Saxenda experienced compelling results, where 56% achieved significant weight loss within the first year of treatment. Even more encouragingly, approximately half of these participants lost weight over three years.

Compared to individuals not receiving the medication, those using Saxenda alongside lifestyle modifications exhibited superior outcomes, highlighting its effectiveness as an adjunctive therapy for sustainable weight loss.

How long does it take to see results with Saxenda?

Some individuals may notice initial weight reduction within the first 2 to 4 weeks after starting Saxenda therapy. Clinical studies have demonstrated significant weight loss outcomes, with at least a 5% reduction in body weight observed after eight weeks of treatment.

Over a more extended period, Saxenda’s efficacy becomes increasingly evident. After one year of consistent treatment among adults, 85% of patients treated with Saxenda achieved weight loss. On average, this amounted to a remarkable reduction of 21 pounds, highlighting the substantial impact Saxenda can have on long-term weight management goals.

What’s the average weight loss on Saxenda?

After just four weeks of Saxenda therapy, individuals typically experience an average weight loss of approximately 3-4% of their initial body weight. Moreover, when Saxenda combines a balanced diet and regular exercise regimen, the weight loss outcomes become even more substantial. By the end of 2 months of treatment, individuals commonly achieve an average weight loss of around 5% of their initial body weight. 

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When should I see a doctor?

While Saxenda can be an effective tool for weight management, it’s essential to remain vigilant about potential side effects and seek medical attention if any concerning symptoms arise. One such concern is the risk of gallbladder problems, including the formation of gallstones, which may necessitate surgical intervention. Other symptoms that require immediate medical advice while using Saxenda include:

These symptoms may indicate the presence of gallbladder issues requiring medical evaluation and appropriate management.

FAQs about Saxenda for weight loss

Can I use Saxenda if I’m pregnant?

Saxenda should not be used during pregnancy. It is important to note that the potential effects of Saxenda on unborn children are not fully understood. If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or currently breastfeeding. In that case, discussing your options with your healthcare provider is crucial to determining the most suitable course of action for you and your baby’s health.

Is Saxenda safe for long-term use in weight management?

Yes, Saxenda is FDA-approved for both weight loss and long-term weight management in individuals with obesity and certain individuals who are overweight. When used as part of a comprehensive weight management plan, which includes a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity, Saxenda has demonstrated efficacy in aiding sustainable weight loss and maintenance over the long term.

Is Saxenda suitable for diabetic patients?

Saxenda isn’t recommended for diabetic patients as it doesn’t address diabetes; it’s specifically designed for weight loss. Both Saxenda and a diabetes medication called Victoza share the same active drug, liraglutide.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Whitten, J. Suzin. “Liraglutide (Saxenda) for weight loss.” American family physician 94.2 (2016): 161-166.
  • Dar, Shujah, Abd A. Tahrani, and Milan K. Piya. “The role of GLP‐1 receptor agonists as weight loss agents in patients with and without type 2 diabetes.” Practical Diabetes 32.8 (2015): 297-300b.
  • Onge, Erin St, Shannon A. Miller, and Carol Motycka. “Liraglutide (Saxenda®) as a treatment for obesity.” Food and Nutrition Sciences 7.04 (2016): 227.
  • Wilmington, Rebekah, et al. “Liraglutide 3.0 mg (Saxenda©) for Weight Loss and Remission of Pre-Diabetes. Real-World Clinical Evaluation of Effectiveness among Patients Awaiting Bariatric Surgery.” Obesity Surgery (2023): 1-4.

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