Saxenda is a weight loss medication that you inject once a day with a pen. It works by reducing your appetite over time. The active ingredient copies the hormones normally released after a meal to tell your brain that you’re full. As a result, you eat less and lose weight.
To request Saxenda, complete a short questionnaire about your health. One of our doctors will check if Saxenda is right for you before prescribing this.
A consultation and prescription for Saxenda costs €21.50. You will not be charged if you are not eligible for treatment.
If our doctors prescribe Saxenda to you, speak to your chosen pharmacy to check:
- if they currently have Saxenda in stock or if they need to order this in
- the price of Saxenda since this may vary between pharmacies
What is Saxenda?
Saxenda is a weight loss treatment which can be prescribed if you:
- have a BMI between 27 kg/m² and 30 kg/m² and a health condition which can affect your weight, such as high blood pressure
- have a BMI of over 30 kg/m²
Saxenda is an injectable pen which contains the active ingredient liraglutide. It can help you to lose weight and should be used alongside a weight loss treatment plan.
How does Saxenda work?
Saxenda contains the medication liraglutide, which works in your body like the natural hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Usually, GLP-1 is released from your intestine after you have eaten a meal, which tells your brain you are full.
When Saxenda is injected, it can also tell the receptors in your brain that you are full, which can help you to control your appetite as you feel less hungry. Saxenda works to decrease your appetite over time, so you can eat less and lose weight.
Ordering Saxenda treatment
Requesting a prescription for Saxenda from a ZAVA doctor is quick and easy. Simply complete a short questionnaire about your health and submit a photo so our doctors can confirm your weight. You don’t have to include your face in any photos you send us. The information you send will remain confidential and be reviewed by the ZAVA medical team only.
Once a doctor has reviewed your details, your prescription will be sent to your chosen pharmacy. We recommend checking that the pharmacy has Saxenda in stock or when this will be available if they need to order this in.
If you are requesting Saxenda for the first time, our doctors will ask for more than one photo so they can check that Saxenda is safe and suitable for you. You can submit any full length photo that clearly indicates your weight, as well as one photo showing your weight on scales.
How long will I need to use Saxenda?
It is realistic to expect to lose over 5% of your body weight within 12 weeks of maintenance doses after building up your dose as advised by your doctor. It is important to combine Saxenda with a diet and exercise plan to achieve the best results. Once you are on your maintenance dosage, a single pen typically lasts up to 1 week. Depending on your response to the medication and your weight loss goals, you may finish your course before or continue beyond 12 weeks.
How to use Saxenda
Your doctor will talk you through your treatment plan. Your dose will increase as your body gets used to the treatment until you reach the maintenance dose of 3mg a day. You should only keep taking Saxenda if you have lost at least 5% of your body weight after being on the maintenance dose for 12 weeks.
Stay active during treatment
Stay on the diet and exercise plan that your doctor recommends during treatment, as this will give you the best results. Your doctor will assess your treatment regularly, to make sure you are losing weight and Saxenda is working as it should. When you have achieved your weight loss goals, your doctor will stop the treatment.
Tips for administering Saxenda
You should use Saxenda at the same time each day for best results. Find a time of the day that works best for you, such as in the morning. You can take Saxenda with or without food and drink.
Your Saxenda pen should be used with needles designed for use with an injection pen device. They should be no longer than 8mm with a width as thin as 34G. For reference, the pen and needle is comparable to the sort used to administer insulin.
Always read the instructions included within your Saxenda packet or follow this guide before administering Saxenda for the first time. If you are blind or have poor eyesight, you should get someone to help you.
Select your dose
Check your dose against your treatment plan, to make sure you are injecting the right amount of medicine into your body. The dose selector on your Saxenda pen can be turned backwards and forwards to reach the correct dose, up to a maximum of 3mg. There is a small window where you can read the dose.
Where to inject your dose
Once you have selected the correct dose, you are ready to inject the medication. To protect your skin you should use a new injection site each day. You can choose between the following injection sites:
- front of your abdomen (below your stomach) - this is the most commonly recommended injection site
- front of your thigh
- top of your arm
Never inject your medicine into a vein or muscle.
Dispose of your needle after your injection
When the needle has been removed from your skin, use the outer needle cap from earlier to safely dispose of the needle. Never touch the needle with your fingers, as this could cause you to hurt yourself.
Once the needle is covered, make sure the outer cap is on completely and unscrew the needle from your Saxenda pen and throw it away.
Never reuse or share a needle or Saxenda pen with anyone. Saxenda must be prescribed to you.
When you request Saxenda from us, we can include needles with your prescription. Otherwise you can buy these directly from your pharmacy without a prescription. Never use a needle that is bent or damaged.
There are resources you can download to help you get started with Saxenda. You can also read our Saxenda information hub.
What are the side effects of Saxenda?
Saxenda, like other medications, can have some side effects. That is why your treatment plan will be adjusted slowly, so your body can get used to the treatment. This also helps to reduce the risk of side effects.
Very common side effects include:
- nausea or vomiting (feeling or being sick)
- constipation or diarrhoea
Common side effects include:
- problems with your stomach or intestines, such as indigestion, heartburn, bloating, and wind (flatulence)
- a change in your sense of taste
- difficulty sleeping
- feeling tired or weak
- skin reactions at the injection site
- low blood sugar
- an increase in enzymes, which would show up in a blood test
Uncommon side effects include:
- inflamed gallbladder
- dehydration, which is more likely if you have vomiting and diarrhoea
- allergic reactions
- increased pulse
- feeling generally unwell
These side effects usually go away within a few days or weeks but speak to your doctor if they are bothering you too much or do not go away. For serious side effects such as a severe allergic reaction, call 999 or go to A&E.
For more information on side effects and to view rare side effects, read the Saxenda patient information leaflet included with your treatment.
You should not use Saxenda if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the medication, especially liraglutide. A doctor will review your request to make sure that Saxenda is the right treatment for you if you have other health conditions.
Speak to your doctor if you take any other medications, especially if you take:
- any prescription treatment for diabetes, as they may cause your blood sugar to drop too low (hypoglycemia)
- anticoagulants, which reduce your risk of blood clots
There is no food or drink you need to avoid but you should stick to a balanced diet and limit your alcohol intake as this could make some side effects worse. Saxenda is not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. If you think you are pregnant, stop taking Saxenda and speak to your doctor.
Dr Kathryn Basford
Dr Kathryn Basford is an IMC and GMC registered GP who works with our Irish team here at ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training at Whipps Cross Hospital in London.Meet our doctors
Last reviewed: 11 Aug 2022
Saxenda 6 mg/mL solution for injection in pre-filled pen (2021) EMC [accessed March 2022]
Saxenda, Summary of Product Characteristics, EMC [accessed March 2022]
Saxenda, European Medicines Agency [accessed March 2022]