Mum who tried weight loss injection after seeing it on TikTok says 'not worth it'

Zoe Smith, 30, tried a weight loss injection after seeing it on TikTok
-Credit: (Image: Zoe Smith/SWNS)

A mum who tried a weight loss injection she saw on TikTok said it is "not worth it" after suffering from headaches, missed periods and piling the weight she lost back on.

Zoe Smith, 30, decided to purchase the Saxenda injection for £480 from Asda after seeing it advertised on TikTok and claims it was "dangerously easy to buy". She said she wants to warn others about buying it.

The mum who tipped the scales at 17 stone and struggled to squeeze into a size 20 was keen to lose weight. She said she was unsuccessful in trying diet programmes like Weight Watchers and Slimming World, as well as shake detoxes and calorie deficits.

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After consulting a dietician, Zoe claims she was told the weight loss jab could be a last resort before gastric band surgery. She injected the drug into her stomach once a day, racking up £460 for eight pens, over a total of two months.

Zoe claims the jab made her feel "nauseous, feeling unable to get out of bed," and she stopped taking it after seven pens. She is now on the NHS waiting list for a gastric sleeve.

Mum-of-one Zoe, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, said: "I’d tried every diet going. My dietician was unable to prescribe the Saxenda injection because it isn't licensed for weight loss in my area - so I went online and paid £230 for it myself.

"I didn't want to jump into it straight away - I researched Saxenda on TikTok for two months before taking the plunge. Most TikTokers' side effects seemed minimal, and their dramatic weight loss made it look worth it.

"I lost a lot of weight - but it made me feel horrendous. It's not worth it."

Saxenda was licensed for use in the UK in June 2020 - but at the time, it was only available via the Lloyds Pharmacy weight loss programme - and later, NHS prescription. Since March 2022, the treatment has been available over the counter at most shops such as Asda, Superdrug and Boots.

Zoe said she found it "worrying" how "easily" she was able to buy the injection. She added: "It worried me how easy it was to get the treatment. There’s a questionnaire - they ask you whether you have any history of eating disorders, or whether you’re on any medications.

"It’s totally possible to lie. You don’t have to send any proof and there’s no consultation."

Zoe Smith with her family.
Zoe Smith with her family. -Credit:Zoe Smith / SWNS

Before her first injection, Zoe confessed to "constantly craving high-calorie snacks" in between meals - particularly struggling to resist "big bags of chocolate and crisps".

The appetite suppressant "encouraged" her to eat three "nutritious" meals a day, as she was able to "feel fuller for longer".

Zoe said: "On Saxenda, I was eating three meals a day and my patterns got so much better."

But within days, the first side effects started to appear. She added: "I started to feel really sick, with constant, excruciating headaches. The kind of headaches which leave you unable to do anything. I couldn't focus - I just wanted to stay in bed all day. Painkillers wouldn't touch them.

"Then, my periods became really irregular. This was the biggest reason I decided to come off."

Having reached the maximum dosage, she could afford - 1.8mg per pen, over two months - Zoe decided she wanted to come off the course of treatment. Despite losing 1st 7lbs in her first month, she decided her decline in health wasn't worth the weight loss.

Online pharmacy service Zava recommends slowly decreasing your dosage of Saxenda over time - rather than stopping in one go - to prevent digestive issues and sickness.

Zoe said she weaned herself off the injection and when she was completely off it, her headaches stopped and periods returned to normal. However, Zoe said her appetite "grew bigger than it had ever been" when she stopped the medication for good and put the majority of the weight she lost back on.

Zoe claims her appetite still hasn't returned to normal and says she'd "never recommend Saxenda" to anyone wanting to lose weight.

A spokesperson for ASDA said: "As part of the assessment, we ask specific questions relevant to prescribing weight loss medication - including any past history of eating disorders, specifically mentioning any conditions that are contraindications for the drugs, any problems with past use of weight loss medication, and advice about the importance of lifestyle changes.

"The messages patients receive after their request is accepted is full of useful information and links about the drug and weight loss advice in general. All our patients are checked up on at seven days to see how they are getting on with medication and advice.

"They can also contact our doctors free of charge at any time with any further concerns they have."

A spokesperson for Novo Nordisk said: "Saxenda (liraglutide injection 3mg) is a glucagon-like peptide receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA). A known effect of GLP-1 RAs is gastrointestinal disorders.

"The most common adverse events with Saxenda are gastrointestinal disorders (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and constipation) and headache. In the Saxenda trials, most episodes of gastrointestinal events were mild to moderate, transient and the majority did not lead to discontinuation of therapy.

"These side effects usually occurred during the first weeks of treatment and diminished within a few days or weeks on continued treatment. Saxenda is a prescription only medicine and must only be prescribed by a healthcare professional.

"If a patient experiences any side effects they should talk to their doctor, pharmacist or nurse. This includes any possible side effects not listed in the package leaflet."

An ASDA spokesperson said: “Ensuring patient safety and wellbeing is always our top priority, which is why we have steps in place to ensure that the medication each patient receives is right for them. We notify each patients’ GP of the medication they have requested, carry out identity checks, and request visual evidence alongside the in depth written responses before the application is approved.

"Once the medication has been approved for use by the patient’s doctor we then carry out regular consultations with each patient to ensure that the medication is being used correctly and will withdraw the medication from the patient if necessary.”

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