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Ozempic, Body Modification, & How An Industry Does It's Research

Last week we discussed weight loss, weight gain, and its impact on piercings. Very briefly, I mentioned medically induced weight loss and gain, either as a side effect from medications, from surgery, from different conditions, or various medical causes. Today, I want to talk about that subject a little more in-depth. Specifically, I want to talk about Ozempic.

For those unaware, Ozempic, also known as semaglutide, is a diabetes medication that lowers blood sugar by making the pancreas create more insulin. It mimics a naturally occurring hormone, which tells the brain we are full and also slows digestion. Because of this, its secondary usage as a weight loss medication has increased. Ozempic has rapidly become one of the most popular injectables across America, and with it, we are seeing dramatic weight changes for thousands. People dropping 50 and 100lbs in rapid time frames, leading to lots of folks struggling with loose, sagging skin. When we lose so much weight so quickly, loose skin is much more common than traditional, significantly slower methods of weight loss. But it’s not just this loose skin we are seeing.

“I have seen a number of patients for facelifts who are on Ozempic, and the way their tissue behaves is not the same,” says Dr. Few. “The skin has more of a doughy consistency, and I think it is going to dramatically change how we approach facelifts next year.” This kind of change to skin is not something he's seen caused by rapid weight loss alone — like after gastric bypass surgery — and for now he’s contending with it by reinforcing the skin during a facelift. “I've always done internal stitching to anchor the skin down to the lining of the muscle, but now I'm doing even more extensive work in that regard because I don't trust that the skin is going to stay there,” he explains. “I think that's going to be a huge game-changer for plastic surgery in 2024.” - Dr Few, Allure Magazine

Multiple plastic surgeons and medical professionals are reporting that skin affected by ozempic feels and reacts differently than other skin or even loose skin from other methods of weight loss. The tissue is reported as feeling doughy, more fragile, and harder to work with. And with ozempic and similar medications gaining popularity across the world, we are going to see more and more clients with these issues.

So why am I, a body piercer, writing about a weight loss drug and facelifts? Well, there are big conversations surrounding the impact of ozempic in multiple other fields- plastic surgery, medicine, esthetics, and I think tattoo artists and piercers should be having these conversations too. Some of us have already seen folks on ozempic in our studios, and as time goes on more and more of us will. How will this uniquely changed skin affect piercings? Will it heal the same? Based on these descriptions and medical literature, I’m immediately concerned about increased rejection in things like navel and nipple piercings for clients on it. For tattoo artists- how will this skin take pigment? Will it heal the same? Is it easier to overwork?

I don’t know- I don’t have these answers. This drug has only really been popular for the last year or so, and there’s still so much research to be done. But I think it’s an important conversation to have. How do we as an industry prepare for these things? How do we work together to stay ahead and make sure we can offer our clients the best experience possible? Who out there is also watching and reading the current studies and information about this medication, and planning for how you’ll work with clients on it?

As an industry, I think we can collectively do a better job of staying more informed and more abreast of big changes that affect us, and planning ahead of time for helping clients whom these things affect. I don’t want the first time I think about how to handle ozempic affected loose skin to be with a client lying on my table. I want to have already done the research, realized this is something that could affect me, and have some ideas in mind of how to approach it. Our clients deserve us to take this kind of initiative to be aware of things that will affect our job. So, for all the tattoo artists and piercers out there- how do we prepare for this? What do you think? I’m excited to hear others’ thoughts, and hopefully come together so we can all better serve our clients and communities.

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