An Inside Look at Ozempic Treatments Around the Main Line

Experts weigh in on a hot new weight-loss treatment. Does it warrant the hype?

If you’ve never heard of Ozempic, you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk and Tracy Morgan have all touted the red-hot weight-loss tool. On a recent episode of Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live, Dolores Catania revealed that she and the rest of the Real Housewives stars were using it.

Ozempic was originally designed to treat Type 2 diabetes. But there was an unexpected side effect to weekly injections: Patients were shedding pounds. Not surprisingly, Ozempic was resubmitted to the FDA for approval as a weight-loss tool called Wegovy. Both fall under the generic name semaglutide. The drug serves three major functions. “It increases the amount of insulin your pancreas secretes, which is how it lowers blood sugar,” says Dr. Charlie Seltzer, whose Philadelphia office treats many Main Line patients virtually. “It slows down how long it takes food to exit the stomach—essentially making you feel full longer—and it suppresses appetite.”

Once he was convinced of its safety and effectiveness, Dr. Paul Kim began offering semaglutide to his clients at Exton’s Legacy Plastic Surgery & Aesthetics. He’s seen some people lose as much as 75 pounds. “In reality, the human body makes semaglutide on its own,” Kim says. “When our stomach is full, it makes a peptide that sends a signal to the brain. The one the body produces lasts for about 20 minutes. These synthetic ones last for a week.”

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Side effects have been minimal for Kim’s patients, including West Brandywine’s Frank Conforti. He and his wife started the weekly injections in May 2023. “I started at 207 pounds, and now I’m down to 152,” he says. “I dropped from a 36 waist to a size 32. I weigh about the same as I did when I got married in 1980.”

Dr. Paul Kim of Exton’s Legacy Plastic Surgery & Aesthetics has seen patients lose up to 75 pounds with semaglutide.
Dr. Paul Kim of Exton’s Legacy Plastic Surgery & Aesthetics has seen patients lose up to 75 pounds with semaglutide. Photo by Ed Williams.

Conforti once had an affinity for hoagies. Now, he can barely handle half of one. “When you start taking this, your tastes change,” he says. “I just didn’t want to eat carbs anymore.”

Though injections don’t require significant lifestyle changes, Kim does suggest a more protein-based diet. To help with that, Conforti subscribes to a prepared meal plan, and he’s implemented a training program to build muscle mass.

“A lot of people are literally starving themselves because they lose their appetite,” Kim says. “Because they’re not taking in any nutrients, they’re actually wasting muscle. They’re burning muscle for energy and not burning fat.”

That’s why Kim closely monitors his patients. “And I give them lots of articles to read,” he admits.

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As the owner of KP Aesthetics, Kimberly Costalas has seen “tremendous success” with semaglutide. At her Newtown Square med spa, a month of weekly injections costs about $600. “On average, patients can expect to lose one to three pounds per week,” she says.

And there may be other benefits beyond weight loss, including less joint pain and lower cholesterol levels. Researchers have also found that the drug can reduce alcohol cravings. For binge eaters, semaglutide can also be a godsend. “These patients have been through psychiatrists and psychologists their entire life,” says Kim. “When they’re on this drug, they live a normal life.”

Add Conforti to that list. “It’s pointed our plans for the rest of our lives now,” he says. “We’re active, not so sedentary. I’m 67 years old. You have to enjoy what you have left. We’re looking at the future.”

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