Slimming jabs rise could force users with excess skin overseas for cheap treatment, UK surgeon warns

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A rise in the use of slimming jabs could lead to an increase in unsafe treatment for tummy tucks and surgery to remove excess skin, UK surgeons have warned.

Drugs such as semaglutide and liraglutide are approved for use on the NHS for certain groups of people with obesity, and could help people reduce their weight by more than 10%.

Supplies of semaglutide under the brand name Wegovy, aimed at shedding pounds, are yet to arrive in the UK. However, It is reportedly due to go on sale in the UK in the spring and will be sold in Boots.

A rise in the use of slimming jabs could lead to an increase in overseas trips for tummy tucks

Surgeons have warned that people using the jabs may not realise they could be left with excess skin.

“Whilst the newly introduced weight-loss drugs are not likely to produce comparable weight loss to bariatric surgery there is always the possibility that accompanying weight loss, a patient might be left with a degree of deflation and redundant skin,” said Marc Pacifico, the president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, told the Guardian.

However, access to surgery on the NHS to remove excess skin is limited because the NHS do not fund post-weight loss plastic surgery any more, so it has to be undertaken in the private sector. That costs about £4,500 to £6,000 in the UK, so Mr Pacifico warned patients might seek cheaper procedures abroad..

“I would strongly warn against this as there might not be the safeguards and assurances that the drugs being used are of the same quality and provenance as those being prescribed in the UK,” he said.

He also warned that there are risks associated with having weight-loss plastic surgery abroad, such as the inability to undertake proper research on a surgeon, as well as the risks associated with flying straight after significant surgery – such as blood clots, as well as a lack of accessible follow-up with the surgeon and clinic to treat post-operative wound infections.

The Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners said patients should be told of the risk of problems with excess skin that may arise as a result of significant or rapid weight loss.

“Liraglutide and semaglutide are prescription-only medicines and as such the patient must be fully informed of all side-effects, including excess skin, before agreeing to commence treatment,” it said.

Semaglutide is currently licenced in the UK under the brand name Ozempic to help treat diabetes, but has the side effect of losing weight.

The drug suppresses appetite and is injected once a week using medical pens. Users shed an average of 16 per cent of their body weight over a year.

Twitter owner Elon Musk has used the drug, while Kim Kardashian is rumoured to have used Semaglutide to lose 16 pounds to fit into a dress at the Met Gala once worn by Marilyn Monroe.

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