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When To Stop Semaglutide Before Surgery?

Learn more about what doctors think about stopping semaglutide before surgery, and how this may affect your fasting time requirements.

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Semaglutide is the active ingredient inside of the popular medications Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus. These medications are used for weight loss or diabetes treatment.

Semaglutide can help slow down the emptying of your stomach. This is a good thing for blood sugar control and weight loss since it can help you feel fuller for longer and eat less overall. But, when it comes to surgery prep, slow gastric emptying can be a bad thing, and even dangerous.

In this article, we will explain when to stop Semaglutide before surgery, why this is important for your safety, and answer approximately when you can restart your treatments.

How can Semaglutide and other GLP-1 medications affect surgery?

Semaglutide and other GLP-1 medications can slow down how quickly food leaves your stomach after eating. This can be a problem when it comes to fasting before a surgery where you will be under general anesthesia or sedation, because the usual fasting suggestion of no food for 8-12 hours prior might not be enough. These timelines may still leave you with food in your stomach if you are using a GLP-1 inhibitor.

Having food in your stomach while you are going under for surgery can be dangerous, so healthcare providers take this very seriously. The issue is that there is a risk that when you go under, you vomit up your stomach contents. Since you are not conscious, this can then be inhaled into your lungs. Inhaling stomach contents puts you at risk for lung infections. These can be bad enough that they can be life threatening

This is why making sure there is not food in your stomach is so important, and why doctors are trying to figure out the best ways to handle people that are on GLP-1 medications.

When are you supposed to stop Semaglutide before surgery?

Guidance from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)in 2023 suggests some ways to approach this problem. 

They suggest:

If you are on a daily dosage of GLP-1 medications (like oral Rybelsus) – Skip your dosage on the day of your procedure.

If you are on a weekly dosage of GLP-1 medications (like injectable Ozempic or Wegovy) – Stop taking your medication at least a week prior to your surgery.

This is just a suggestion from the ASA, and is based on trying to find a way for the digestion to speed up to normal to allow for stomach clearing before anesthesia or sedation. However, your provider may suggest pausing your medications longer than this. 

Always be sure to let your doctor know about your use of GLP-1 medications like Semaglutide before scheduling a surgery, even if they don’t ask, or you don’t feel like it is relevant. This will help them make informed decisions on when would be the best timing to pause your medications. 

How soon you should pause your medication before surgery may also change depending on if you are using Semaglutide for weight loss or for diabetes. This is important because while there isn’t much of a worry pausing a weight loss medication briefly, if you have diabetes, you wouldn’t want to have your blood sugar levels uncontrolled for too long. If you have diabetes, you may need to speak with your endocrinologist about any upcoming surgeries. They may suggest that you switch to alternative diabetes medications to help you treat your diabetes until your surgery is over.

Will using Semaglutide change how long you need to fast before surgery?

It is unclear if maybe one day the guidance will also adjust to suggest an extended fasting time before surgery for people who are currently or have recently used GLP-1 medications. But, this is a possibility. Extended fasting times as well as pausing your medication for some time beforehand may be the best way to ensure the stomach is empty before procedures.

Talk about your Semaglutide or similar medication use with your doctor to see what they feel the most comfortable with. They will suggest a fasting time and let you know how long to pause your medications for before surgery. And, even though it may be annoying having to fast or pause your medication, remember that all of this is for your safety to reduce the risk of dangerous complications.

When can you restart your Semaglutide after you have had surgery?

According to the ASA, you should be able to restart your Semaglutide medication after your surgery it done, they even say later that same day might be an option. This makes sense, since the risk of vomiting under sedation or anesthesia is now over.

However, there may be situations where you still want to wait a little bit. Maybe it was a surgery involving your GI tract, or maybe it is best for you to not have potential digestive upset while you recover from your surgery. Speak with your doctor about the best timeframe to restart your Semaglutide or GLP-1 medication after your surgery is over.

Strut Health compounded Semaglutide medications prescribed online and shipped free

Here at Strut Health, we carry compounded Semaglutide medications.

After completing an online questionnaire-based consultation, a U.S. doctor will review your information and decide if you are a good candidate for Semaglutide medications. If you are, a U.S. compounding pharmacy will make your medication up, and ship it to your front door with our free shipping.

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