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Does Wegovy Cause Hair Loss? Expert Review (2024)
Dr Mir Malkani
Medically reviewed by
Dr Mir Malkani
Updated on May 14, 2024

While it is one of the few medications approved specifically for weight management, Wegovy can cause hair loss in some people. Studies show that 3% of adults taking this treatment experience hair shedding [1]. However, it is difficult to tell whether this effect is produced by the drug itself or by the sudden weight loss achieved by some patients who follow a strict low-calorie diet alongside the Wegovy treatment.

Fortunately, if you are experiencing hair thinning while using Wegovy, you will likely see regrowth in a few months after completing your treatment. Should you find that your hair is still falling out 6 months after discontinuing medication, it is a good idea to see a trichologist. They can help you rule out other causes of hair thinning, such as androgenetic alopecia or alopecia areata

Moreover, there are things you can do to prevent and reduce unnecessary hair loss while you are using Wegovy, such as eating a well-balanced diet, quitting smoking or lowering your stress levels. These lifestyle changes can improve your overall well-being and they can also help keep your hair healthy and beautiful.

Keep reading this article to discover more about:

  • What Wegovy is and how it works to help you lose weight
  • The relationship between Wegovy, weight loss and hair loss
  • Other medications that can make your hair fall out
  • Effective ways to reduce unnecessary hair shedding while using Wegovy
Table of Contents
What is Wegovy?

What is Wegovy?

Wegovy is a relatively new and very promising injectable weight loss treatment that was approved by the FDA in 2021. It is recommended for overweight or obese patients with at least one weight-related health problem [2].

Its active substance is semaglutide, which was originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes but has been found effective in stimulating weight loss as well. While certain formulations, such as Ozempic, are currently only licensed to treat diabetes, Wegovy is the first semaglutide medication designed and approved specifically for accelerating weight loss in both diabetic and non-diabetic patients.

In 2023, Wegovy became licensed and available in the UK (though, at this time, in limited supply). Eligible patients can get a prescription on the NHS, but only at the recommendation of a weight management specialist [3][4].

Wegovy is supplied in pre-filled, quick-use pens, containing a 2.4 mg dose of medication. Patients need to self-administer one injection per week while maintaining a low-calorie diet and exercise.

informational graphic showing how weight loss occurs with GLP-1 RA
The possible mechanisms of weight loss caused by GLP-1 RA [11]

How does Wegovy work?

Wegovy is what is known as a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA). This type of substance works by activating certain receptors in your pancreas, leading to increased insulin release and decreased glucose release [9][10]. This leads to downregulating (i.e. decreasing) your blood sugar level.

The medication also acts on your gastrointestinal tract, making your stomach take more time to empty. This reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller for a longer time [11].

Does Wegovy cause hair loss?

Does Wegovy cause hair loss?

Three randomised, double-blind clinical trials, with a total number of 2116 patients, have shown that 3% of adults and 4% of children younger than 12 experienced hair loss during a 68-week Wegovy treatment course [1]. This is enough to declare alopecia a common adverse effect of this medication.

However, further research is needed to determine whether the hair shedding was due to the medication itself, or the significant weight loss achieved. Studies show that Wegovy can help users achieve up to a 15% decrease in body weight after 12 months of treatment. Depending on their initial weight, this can be a significant amount, sufficient to cause your hair to fall out.

Why does rapid weight loss cause hair loss

Why does rapid weight loss cause hair loss?

Rapid, substantial weight loss is known to trigger a type of alopecia known as telogen effluvium. This condition involves diffuse hair shedding that usually occurs 2-3 months after you are faced with considerable physical or emotional stress (e.g. illness, childbirth, injury, bereavement, separation).

The trauma disrupts your natural hair growth cycle, making a greater proportion of your hair enter the shedding phase than normal (25-50%, compared to 10-15%) [5].

Hair growth cycle

A strict low-calorie diet can trigger telogen effluvium because your body reacts as though it were faced with starvation, redirecting resources away from your hair to other, more important organs.

Moreover, when you are following a strict diet, you may be depriving yourself of certain nutrients which are necessary for your hair health. Some mineral and vitamin deficiencies can cause hair loss, such as iron, zinc, vitamin D for hair or Vitamin E for hair.

Will stopping the Wegovy treatment make my hair grow back?

If your hair thinning is caused by Wegovy-induced telogen effluvium, your hair should grow back on its own in 3-6 months after you discontinue treatment [5]. Meanwhile,  it is recommended to let your healthcare provider know that you are experiencing hair loss. This will give them a chance to reassess your weight loss plan and help you make the best and most informed health decisions.

If your hair shedding persists more than 6 months after you stop using Wegovy, it is a good idea to see a trichologist. While your alopecia could be due to your diet, perhaps caused by a nutritional deficiency (keep in mind that supplementation does not always lead to hair regrowth), you could also be developing a hair loss condition such as androgenetic alopecia, or alopecia areata. If that is the case, diagnosis and treatment will be needed before you can achieve hair regrowth.

Could Wegovy have a positive impact on my hair health?

While there is currently no specific research that investigates the impact of Wegovy on hair loss, reaching a healthy weight can be beneficial for certain types of alopecia. For example, obesity is associated with hormonal imbalances. Women who experience this condition can develop an excessive proportion of male hormones (hyperandrogenism) [6], which can trigger or worsen female pattern baldness.

This is especially true for postmenopausal women, who are experiencing a decline in female hormones (oestrogens). Gradually shedding the excess weight can help rebalance your hormones and curb further hair thinning [7]. However, achieving regrowth may require hair growth treatment or a hair transplant.

Moreover, obesity promotes low-grade systemic inflammation [8], which can cause hair loss in both genders. Reaching a healthier weight would remove this problem and likely help your hair grow back.

So if using Wegovy can help you shed your extra pounds, you will not only be healthier and feel better, but your hair might benefit from it as well once your weight settles. Just be sure to avoid a very restrictive diet, so the sudden weight loss doesn’t make your hair fall out.

other medications that cause hair loss

Other medications that cause hair loss

Diabetes and weight loss drugs, such as Wegovy or Mounjaro, can cause hair loss, however they are far from the only type of drugs that can have this adverse effect. Here are some other examples of medications that can cause hair loss:

  • Chemotherapy hair loss
  • Some types of heart medications (e.g. beta-blockers, blood thinners)
  • Some types of cholesterol medications (e.g. statins)
  • Certain hormonal contraceptive pills (especially progesterone-based mini-pills)
  • Certain kinds of antidepressants
  • Anabolic steroids (the kind some athletes take to build muscle mass)
  • Excessive vitamin A can cause hair loss

If you are unsure whether the medication you are taking causes hair loss, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or pharmacist, as this adverse effect may not always be listed on the leaflet.

Lifestyle changes that can reduce hair loss on Wegovy

While you may experience some temporary hair loss while using Wegovy, there are lifestyle changes that can help you prevent hair loss during weight loss:

Maintain a well-balanced diet to prevent hair loss

Maintain a well-balanced diet

When dieting, you may be tempted to reduce calorie intake drastically and eliminate entire food groups. However, your hair needs protein, vitamins and minerals (e.g. iron, zinc, selenium, folate, vitamin C for hair, vitamin D, vitamin E) to grow and thrive. So make sure you are getting sufficient nutrients to prevent deficiencies that may cause further hair loss.

reduce or stop smoking to improve hair health

Reduce or stop smoking

Smoking causes hair loss because nicotine makes your blood vessels constrict, preventing sufficient oxygen and nutrients from reaching your hair follicles. Vaping can cause hair loss for the same reason, so giving up nicotine altogether may lead to thicker, healthier hair.

Avoid excessive sunlight to keep hair healthy

Avoid excessive sunlight

You probably know UV radiation is bad for your skin, but too much sunlight is not good for your hair either. That is because it can give you dry, brittle hair that breaks off easily, leading to summer hair loss.

Manage your stress levels to prevent stress-induced hair loss

Manage your stress levels

It is a well-known fact that stress and anxiety cause hair loss. So engaging in relaxing activities such as yoga, meditation, exercise or therapy could not only make you feel better but also reduce your stress shedding.

Choose gentle hair products to prevent hair damage

Choose gentle hair products

Certain hair products such as shampoos with harsh detergents (e.g. sodium lauryl sulphate), bleach or hair dye can cause hair loss if used excessively, especially on dry hair. When possible, try using hair-friendly products with natural ingredients instead (e.g. gentle shampoo, essential oils for hair growth, or henna hair dye).

wear tight hairstyles sparingly to avoid traction alopecia

Wear tight hairstyles sparingly

Hairstyles that constantly pull at your roots, such as braids or ponytails can cause hair loss. Wearing heavy extensions can cause hair loss as well if kept on for too long. The condition that develops is called traction alopecia and will normally resolve itself once you stop applying pressure to your roots and allow your hair follicles to heal.

Are you concerned about hair loss while using Wegovy?

If you are unsure whether Wegovy is causing your hair loss, the best thing you can do is book a consultation with a trichologist. This is especially true if you are experiencing symptoms such as severe hair shedding, a receding hairline, patchy hair loss, scales, sores or rashes on your scalp or a bald spot on your crown. That is because instead of Wegovy hair loss (or alongside it), you may be developing a type of alopecia or a common scalp problem which requires treatment to improve.

The trichologist will examine your scalp and, if necessary, perform tests such as a dermoscopy, a scalp biopsy or blood tests for hair loss. That will allow them to give you an accurate diagnosis and recommend the best treatment for your particular hair condition. Depending on your circumstances, this may include:

  • Minoxidil – This versatile hair growth medication is normally used topically. It works by dilating the capillaries in your scalp so more blood flow can reach your hair follicles. It can help regrow hair in a range of conditions, from telogen effluvium to androgenetic alopecia, traction alopecia and alopecia areata.
  • Finasteride – Finasteride is the most frequently prescribed treatment for androgenetic alopecia. It works by preventing excessive amounts of testosterone from being converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that makes your hair follicles shrink and stop producing hair. However, it is not recommended for premenopausal women.
  • Dermarolling for hair growth – this therapy involves using a small, pin-covered tool to create microscopic holes in your scalp. This triggers your natural healing response and improves the penetration of topical treatments, such as topical Minoxidil.
  • Red light therapy for hair growth – also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), this treatment involves shining focused beams of red or near-infrared light on your scalp to boost cell metabolism and increase energy flow to your hair follicles.
  • Steroid creams – corticosteroids are often used to treat the symptoms of alopecia areata, but can also be used for other conditions such as scalp psoriasis or eczema.
  • Hair transplant – if your hair loss is too advanced for non-surgical treatments, you may still be a good candidate for a natural-looking hair transplant. It is a simple, painless and very effective procedure that involves harvesting hairs from a healthy donor area and reimplanting them in balding spots. The best hair transplant clinics in the UK have a 97-100% success rate. See the results for yourself in our before and after hair transplant gallery.

Whatever treatment recommendations you may receive, you can rest easy, knowing that your hair is in good hands.

Does Wegovy Cause Hair Loss? Expert Review (2024), Wimpole Clinic

Dr Mir Malkani
Medically reviewed by Dr Mir MalkaniUpdated on May 14, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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