New guidance suggests skipping Ozempic before surgery

In recent years, Ozempic and other similar drugs, called GLP-1 agonists, have become popular for weight loss. However, doctors are now warning people against taking these drugs before having surgery or a procedure that requires them to be sedated.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) said in a recent statement that people who take GLP-1 agonists every day should stop treatment on the day of surgery. If the person takes the medicine weekly, they should keep it one week before surgery.

PHOTO: A box of Ozempic, a semaglutide injection drug used to treat type 2 diabetes and manufactured by Novo Nordisk, is seen at a Rock Canyon drugstore in Provo, Utah March 29, 2023. (George Frey/Reuters, FILE)

PHOTO: A box of Ozempic, a semaglutide injection drug used to treat type 2 diabetes and manufactured by Novo Nordisk, is seen at a Rock Canyon drugstore in Provo, Utah March 29, 2023. (George Frey/Reuters, FILE)

The new guidance comes after “many reports from the medical literature and anesthesia leaders of people who fasted but still vomited or went to sleep or woke from anesthesia,” said Dr. Ronald L. Harter, MD, fellow and incoming president of the ASA and professor of anesthesiology at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

“This was very concerning and something we needed to address and communicate to the public like we’re doing right now,” said Harter.

Anesthesiologists are doctors who help ensure that patients are sedated during surgical procedures. For decades, anesthetists have discouraged eating or drinking before surgery so that the stomach is empty, reducing the chance of vomiting during the procedure, which can be dangerous.

MORE: Woman Says Ozempic Helped Her Lose Weight While Trying to Get Pregnant

“This is really a pretty unique situation where you have a relatively new class of drugs that are being adopted very, very quickly and are being used by a fairly significant portion of the population,” Harter said. “One of the potential side effects of these drugs is delayed gastric emptying, which presents a unique risk or potential for aspiration for patients undergoing anesthesia. It was a combination of all those factors that really drove us to provide guidance, right to our anesthetist and our patients taking these drugs.”

“This drug decreases gastric emptying of food and slows calorie absorption,” says Dr. Louis J. Aronne, MD, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center and Sanford I. Weill Metabolic Research Professor at Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York City.

The drug also has bad side effects like diarrhea and vomiting, “but because these drugs are titrated, meaning the dose is increased gradually, we find a rate at which we can cease that side effect,” according to Aronne.

PHOTO: Boxes of the diabetes drug Ozempic rest on the counter of a pharmacy, April 17, 2023, in Los Angeles.  (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PHOTO: Boxes of the diabetes drug Ozempic rest on the counter of a pharmacy, April 17, 2023, in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Aronne says he is familiar with GLP-1 agonists, saying he followed similar management guidance issued by the ASA even before the statement was officially released.

MORE: Popularity of Ozempic, Mounjaro, Similar Drugs Could Cause Shortages for People With Diabetes, Obesity

He says people who are taking this drug can safely stop temporarily. If a person is taking this drug for weight management, when the drug wears off, the person will start to feel hungrier and the weight loss process will stop. “It’s not going to happen very quickly. It literally takes a month before we see things,” says Aronne.

If the person is taking their diabetes medication, they may need to switch to another drug, but safely with a doctor’s consultation before surgery, she says.

Alina Mitina, DO, is St. John’s Riverside’s resident chief of emergency medicine and a member of ABC News’ medical unit.

New guidance suggests skipping Ozempic before the surgery originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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