What are the side effects of Saxenda?

What are the side effects of Saxenda?

Person stood on scales

Saxenda, which is also known as the skinny jab or skinny pen, is a type of weight-loss treatment which can help you to lose weight and keep it off. Sounds good, right?

But what about all of those nasty side effects you’ve heard that people have? Doesn’t the pen just make you feel really sick? Won’t you just gain all the weight back when you stop using the injections?

As a weight-loss treatment, Saxenda naturally sparks questions like this, so we’re going to take a look at the facts and the fiction behind side effects, safety, and what happens when you stop using the skinny jab.

Is the Saxenda skinny jab safe?

The Saxenda skinny jab is a licensed medication which is completely safe to use as long as you follow the instructions laid out by your doctor or the manufacturer.

This includes making sure that you stick to the dosage you’ve been prescribed, inject the pen into the right area of your body, and are aware of any potential side effects which would need immediate emergency treatment.

Although Saxenda does have side effects, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t safe to use, after all, even everyday medicines like paracetamol can have side effects.

Liraglutide (the active ingredient in Saxenda) is a prescription-only medicine, which means you can only get your hands on it if your doctor agrees to prescribe it after a consultation.

One of the reasons why these weight loss injections are only available on prescription is because your doctor will need to know a bit about your general health before they can decide whether this treatment is right for you.

For example, as the injection is not meant to be used by people with a BMI that is lower than 27, your doctor can use your weight and height to check whether your BMI falls within the right range for you to take this medication safely.

They’ll also be able to consider other medications you’re taking and other health conditions you have, recommend a diet and exercise programme for you to follow during your treatment, and make arrangements to check up on your wellbeing as you take the injections.

Your doctor will only prescribe Saxenda if they agree that it’s the best and safest possible treatment for you, given the information they have, so be honest with them, ask any questions you need to during your consultation, and remember that you shouldn’t always believe horror stories you read online.

What are the side effects of Saxenda weight loss injections?

As we mentioned before, Saxenda can have side effects, but some are much more common than others.

Usually, your side effects may not be serious and some will go away a few days or weeks into your treatment, but they’re something you should be aware of before using your first injection.

Here’s a list of the most common side effects of Saxenda, so you’ll know what to look for when you start your treatment:

  • Feeling sick
  • Being sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Skin reactions where you’ve injected the pen, e.g. itching, rash, bruising
  • Low blood sugar
  • Headaches
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Digestive symptoms, e.g. stomach pain, heartburn, bloating
  • Gallstones
  • Change in your sense of taste
  • Increase in the enzymes created by your pancreas, e.g. lipase, amylase


If you experience any unwanted symptoms or side effects while taking Saxenda you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist for advice as soon as you can.

There are other, less common side effects of this treatment, but if we listed them all you’d be here all year, so I’ll just let you know that you can find them all listed in the patient information leaflet included with your medication if you need to look in more detail.

Are there any serious side effects?

Yes, Saxenda can cause serious side effects in some people, but this is uncommon and is the same for every medication on the market.

Severe side effects of these weight loss injections include allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) and symptoms of pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the liver.

If you experience any severe side effects you should see a doctor immediately, calling 999 or going to your local A&E if necessary.

Here’s a list of severe side effects you should be aware of before taking the skinny jab for the first time:


  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the face, eyelids, mouth, tongue, or throat
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Severe stomach pain which may reach into your back, accompanied by being and feeling sick


Will I get withdrawal symptoms when I stop Saxenda?

Saxenda is not an addictive medication, so you should not experience withdrawal symptoms after stopping.

However, you shouldn’t stop taking Saxenda without speaking to your doctor first.

They’ll be able to help you to stop taking this medication in the safest and most effective way possible for you, whether that means stopping abruptly or slowly reducing your dosage before stopping completely.

Many people worry that stopping Saxenda will mean that they put weight back on, but you’ll be happy to learn that there is currently no evidence to suggest that stopping Saxenda causes weight gain in itself.

However, as Liraglutide works by controlling your appetite, you may find that you feel more hungry after you stop using the skinny jab.

If you give in to cravings and eat more after you stop taking this treatment, then you should naturally expect to gain some weight back.

If this is something you’re worried about, you should bring it up with your doctor when it’s time for you to stop your treatment.

Will my side effects keep me from driving?

Saxenda usually won’t keep you from driving or using any machines you may need to use.

It usually won’t affect your concentration or cause any visual problems which would get in the way of you driving safely.

However, some people find that they feel dizzy during the first 3 months of using the skinny jab, which could cause issues.

We recommend taking Saxenda for the first time when you know you won’t need to drive or use any machinery for a while, so you can gauge how you’re affected by the medication and whether you’ll need to stop driving.

If you’re at all worried that the side effects of this weight loss medication are going to keep you from driving you should ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Will drinking alcohol make my side effects worse?

At the moment, there is nothing to suggest that drinking alcohol will make the symptoms of Saxenda worse, however, there are some things you should consider before enjoying a little drink when using the skinny jab.

For starters, some of the most common side effects of Liraglutide are very similar to symptoms of a hangover, like feeling sick, throwing up, headaches, dizziness, and dehydration.

Naturally, this means that you might mistake your hangover for Saxenda side effects and vice versa, making it difficult to know which it is you’re dealing with and whether you’d need to see your doctor.

Another thing to consider is the hidden calories that lurk in alcoholic beverages.

I know, I know, nobody wants to think about their calorie intake when they’re having a good time with a few friends and a few drinks, but when you’re taking Saxenda you’ll need to consider them.

For example, the NHS estimates that one 175ml glass of 12% wine is worth 133 calories, which is the same as 3 Jaffa Cake biscuits! It’s also estimated that a pint of 5% beer is worth 239 calories - the same as a standard Mars Bar.

As you can tell, these all add up when you’re drinking, and as it’s important to follow a low-calorie diet when you’re taking Saxenda, this could be problematic.

We’d generally recommend avoiding alcohol if you can while you’re taking weight loss injections, just to make it easier to monitor your calorie intake and any potential side effects you might be experiencing, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you.

Does Saxenda have long term side effects?

At this time, none of the side effects of Saxenda are thought to cause long-term issues in themselves.

However, pancreatitis is an uncommon but severe side effect of Saxenda, and if you have a particularly bad case of it then you may develop complications with long-term effects.

For example, acute pancreatitis can cause pseudocysts to form on your pancreas, which are usually harmless but may become infected or may need to be drained.

If you experience regular cases of acute pancreatitis, the damage caused to your pancreas could mean that your condition will develop into chronic pancreatitis.

This life-long condition means that your pancreas will stop working properly and will cause you long episodes of severe stomach pain.

Of course, it’s important to remember that pancreatitis is an uncommon side effect of Saxenda, affecting up to 1 out of 100 people who take it, but you should pay attention to any symptoms you experience after taking this product, just in case.

Make sure to see a doctor immediately if you experience severe stomach pain, which may shoot into your back, as well as feeling or being sick.


When should I see a doctor about my symptoms?

You should see a doctor immediately if you experience any of the severe side effects of Saxenda.

These include symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (e.g. difficulty breathing or swallowing, swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, or hives) and the symptoms of pancreatitis we’ve just discussed.

These symptoms are uncommon but make sure you’re aware of the possibility that they can happen to anyone who decides to take Saxenda and that you may need to go to A&E to see a doctor there if they happen to you.

Other side effects usually won’t need emergency medical attention, but if you do experience anything else you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.

This will help you to be sure that this weight loss aid is right for you.

So now you know a lot more about the potential side effects of Saxenda and can make a decision about whether this treatment would be right for you.

The next step to take is starting your quick consultation with one of our doctors.

They’ll be able to assess your medical condition and write you a prescription if they agree that Saxenda is the best way for you to get the most from your weight loss goals.


Laura Henderson - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Prescribing Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Prescribing Pharmacist on 17 September 2021
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