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Medically reviewed by
Dr Daniel Atkinson
GP Clinical lead
on August 02, 2022.
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Saxenda is a treatment made by Novo Nordisk that helps obese people to lose weight. The active ingredient in Saxenda is liraglutide, which mimics the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that occurs naturally in your body. Each Saxenda pen contains 6 mg of liraglutide, from which you can measure out the right dose for you.

If you want to use Saxenda, you’ll usually need to have a BMI of 30 or higher. But you can also use Saxenda with a BMI of 27 or higher if you have health problems associated with weight, like diabetes or high blood pressure.

What does Saxenda look like?

The Saxenda pen is light blue with an easily accessible dose-counter window. The injection mechanism is triggered by a navy blue button on the end of the pen.

How should I store Saxenda?

When you first get Saxenda, you should store it in your fridge. After you’ve used it for the first time, you can store it below 30 degrees celsius (or 86 degrees fahrenheit) for up to a month.

Be careful not to freeze it or store it too closely to the cooling elements in your refrigerator. If you accidentally freeze it, you’ll need to throw it away – but not with your regular rubbish. Since it contains a needle, it needs to be disposed of in a sharps container.

When we deliver Saxenda, we’ll also deliver this dedicated sharps container, so you don’t have to worry about getting one.

How does Saxenda work?

Liraglutide is the active ingredient in Saxenda. It’s a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue that interacts with the receptors in your brain to reduce your appetite. In other words, it mimics a chemical in your body which helps you to feel full – discouraging you from overeating. In addition, it helps you to break old food-related habits and form new ones to help you lose weight – and maintain it.

Does Saxenda work immediately?

Saxenda begins influencing the appetite receptors in your brain immediately. You should feel more control over your hunger and eating impulses when you start taking it. Weight loss isn’t as quick a process, though. After you’ve started Saxenda, you’ll need time to lose weight. You might begin to see progress in your weight loss goals as early as four weeks after starting the treatment.

If, after 16 weeks of using Saxenda, you haven’t lost at least 4% of your starting weight then you should stop using Saxenda – as it is unlikely that it will help you lose or maintain weight loss with continued treatment. You’ll need to speak to your clinician for guidance.

How long does a Saxenda pen last?

Each Saxenda pen lasts for a different amount of time for each person. Your clinician will usually start you on the lowest dose of 0.6 mg, and then increase it according to your needs. Saxenda pens contain 18 mg of liraglutide. The dose that’s safest and most effective for you will determine how many doses you can get from each pen.

Is Saxenda effective?

Saxenda is a very effective treatment option to help people with obesity lose weight. In addition to facilitating 5-10% body weight loss, it also helps people achieve glycemic control.

It can also be safe for people with a BMI of 27 or higher who have certain comorbidities (like diabetes or high blood pressure). And some people achieve similar results while on Saxenda as people with a BMI of 30 or higher. Many people with prediabetes who followed a healthy diet and exercise plan whilst using Saxenda were able to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. If they did develop diabetes, Saxenda delayed the onset by 2.7 times compared to people who weren’t taking it.

How long should I take Saxenda for?

After you’ve taken Saxenda for around four weeks, your clinician will want to check in on you to make sure it’s working properly. If it’s working for you, they might continue to prescribe it until you reach a healthy weight. Once you’ve reached a weight they’re comfortable with, they’ll probably instruct you to stop taking Saxenda.

How can I make Saxenda more effective?

You’ll most likely achieve the best results with Saxenda by combining it with healthy eating habits and exercise. Since Saxenda helps you feel full and stay full for longer, it’s easier to reduce your calories enough for you to lose weight. If you exercise as well, you’ll burn even more calories, and lose weight faster as a result.

How to take Saxenda

You should inject your thigh, as it’s the easiest place for a subcutaneous injection without the risk of injecting a muscle or blood vessel. If it’s your first time taking Saxenda, follow these steps:

  • Hygiene first: Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Check your medicine: Look through the window in your Saxenda injector pen to make sure your medicine is still clear and colourless. You shouldn’t use it if it is opaque or has changed colour.
  • Attach a needle: Remove the pen cap. Get a new needle to attach to the pen. Remove the paper tab so you can push it onto the pen. Twist it to make sure it’s securely attached. There are two caps on your needle. You’ll need to remove the outer one and save it for later. Then, remove the inner cap and dispose of it.
  • Check the flow: Your pen won’t deliver your dose if the needle is blocked or damaged, so you need to check the flow any time you open a new pen. There’s a dose counter window on your pen that will help you do this. Set the dose counter to the flow check setting and hold your Saxenda pen vertically with the needle side up. Depress the injection button until the dose counter shows a zero. You should notice a drop of medicine come out of the needle. If this doesn’t happen, repeat these steps up to six times. After the sixth time, get a new pen if the flow isn’t sufficient.
  • Prepare your dose: Use the dose selector to choose the dose your doctor instructed you to take. You can check the scale on your Saxenda pen to see approximately how much medicine is left. If you need a more accurate reading, turn the dose selector mechanism until it stops. If it reaches 3mg, you’ll have enough Saxenda for that dose, but if it stops before 3mg there won’t be enough. You may split your dose between two pens if your doctor has shown you how.
  • Inject Saxenda: Put the needle in your skin and depress the injector button on the end of the Saxenda pen. Make sure you’re holding it so you can see the dose counter window. Keep holding the button until the dose counter goes down to zero. Keep the needle in your skin for six more seconds before you remove it.
  • Dispose of your needle: Place the outer cap you saved earlier on a flat surface with the open end up. Guide the needle-end of your Saxenda pen into the cap and push down to attach it. Unscrew the needle from your pen and dispose of it in a sharps container.
  • Store your Saxenda: Replace the pen cap on your Saxenda. This will protect it from light exposure that can ruin your medication. Store it in your refrigerator or below 30 degrees Celsius for up to four weeks.

When should you take Saxenda?

You should take Saxenda at around the same time every day. You don’t need to use it with meals or at a specific time of day. Simply choose a time that is convenient for you, and continue to use it at that time.

Can you drink alcohol while using Saxenda?

You can drink on Saxenda, but you should be careful about how much. Alcohol can make Saxenda’s side effects worse. Alcoholic drinks can also often be high in calories, and might prevent Saxenda from working as well as it could. People who use Saxenda see the best weight loss benefits if they limit their alcohol consumption.

What should you do if you make a mistake while taking Saxenda?

There are a few things that can go wrong when you take Saxenda. If you accidentally bend a needle: don’t use it. Throw it out and get a new needle instead. If you need help taking Saxenda, ask a clinician to show you how to use it.

Taking too much Saxenda can lead to serious medical complications. Seek medical attention immediately if you take more than you were supposed to.

Missing doses of Saxenda won’t cause any major issues. If you remember within 12 hours of your missed dose, you can still take it. If it’s been more than 12 hours, just wait until your next dose. Never take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

Is Saxenda right for you?

Saxenda is a weight loss injection that’s been clinically proven to help people lose weight. It might be a good option for you if you’ve tried oral treatments like Xenical, but haven’t found them to be effective.

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This page was medically reviewed by Dr Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical lead on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.

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When we present you with stats, data, opinion or a consensus, we’ll tell you where this came from. And we’ll only present data as clinically reliable if it’s come from a reputable source, such as a state or government-funded health body, a peer-reviewed medical journal, or a recognized analytics or data body. Read more in our editorial policy.

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