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Can you skip days on Saxenda?

Saxenda is a prescription injectable medication used for weight loss and type 2 diabetes management. It mimics the effects of GLP-1, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar and appetite. Saxenda is typically taken once daily, but some wonder if you can skip days on Saxenda or take “drug holidays” from it.

Overview of Saxenda

Saxenda contains the active ingredient liraglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. It is injected subcutaneously (under the skin) once per day using a prefilled pen device. Saxenda was approved by the FDA in 2014 for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or who are overweight with at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.

Saxenda works by mimicking the effects of GLP-1, which is a hormone released from the intestines after eating. GLP-1 slows digestion, promotes feelings of fullness and satisfaction, and regulates blood sugar. By acting like GLP-1, Saxenda:

  • Increases feelings of fullness and reduces appetite
  • Slows emptying of the stomach to control portions
  • Helps control blood sugar levels

In clinical trials, people taking Saxenda lost an average of 4-5% more body weight compared to placebo over 56 weeks. Saxenda is typically used along with diet, exercise, and behavioral modifications for up to 3 years.

Can You Skip Doses of Saxenda?

Saxenda is intended to be taken every day without skipping doses. Skipping doses can decrease its effectiveness for weight loss and blood sugar control. The prescribing information states that Saxenda should be injected once daily at any time of day, without regard to the timing of meals.

It’s best not to skip doses of Saxenda. Here’s why:

  • Saxenda loses effectiveness when doses are missed. Its effects wear off completely after 13-14 hours, so regular daily dosing is needed.
  • Skipping doses can increase appetite, lower motivation for lifestyle changes, and reduce weight loss results.
  • Saxenda can cause temporary side effects like nausea and vomiting when first starting. Skipping doses may prolong these side effects.
  • For diabetes management, a skipped dose can cause a rise in blood sugar.
  • It’s important to properly titrate Saxenda based on the dosing schedule. Skipping doses can impact the titration schedule.

If you want to stop using Saxenda, it’s important to properly taper off under medical supervision rather than abruptly stopping. Suddenly discontinuing Saxenda is not advised due to the risk of side effects like nausea and hypoglycemia in people with diabetes.

What If You Miss a Dose of Saxenda?

Even though it’s best not to miss doses of Saxenda, it’s understandable that a dose may be occasionally missed due to forgetfulness, running out of medication, or other circumstances. Here’s what the Saxenda prescribing information recommends if you miss a dose:

  • If a dose is missed, inject the missed dose as soon as you remember.
  • However, if it’s more than 12 hours since you should have taken Saxenda, skip the missed dose and take the next dose at the regularly scheduled time.
  • Do not take an extra dose or increase the dose to make up for the missed dose.

For example, if you normally take Saxenda at 7 AM daily but forget your dose one morning, you can inject the missed dose later in the day as long as it’s before 7 PM. After 7 PM, skip the missed dose for that day and continue as normal the next day.

Accidentally taking two doses in one day or doubling up on the next dose after a missed dose can increase side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and hypoglycemia. Never take more than one 1.8 mg dose during the same 24-hour period.

Taking Saxenda “Drug Holidays”

Some people wonder about taking scheduled “drug holidays” or intentional breaks from Saxenda after using it daily for a while. However, this practice is generally not recommended by health providers or Saxenda’s manufacturer Novo Nordisk.

There are no medical recommendations to schedule intentional Saxenda breaks or “holidays.” Saxenda is intended for daily administration up to 3 years for chronic weight management.

Taking regular off-days goes against the prescribing guidelines and can make Saxenda less effective for the following reasons:

  • The effects of Saxenda wear off within 13-14 hours, so taking 1-2 days off per week will decrease appetite suppression for those days.
  • Blood sugar control can worsen on the days Saxenda is not taken.
  • Motivation for healthy lifestyle changes may be reduced on the off days.
  • Saxenda side effects like nausea and vomiting can reoccur after each break when restarting the medication.

Rather than taking full off-days, it may be better to schedule “partial holidays” if needing a break. For example:

  • Taking Saxenda every other day rather than daily.
  • Temporarily reducing the dosage rather than completely stopping.
  • Taking a short 1-2 week medication break after using Saxenda daily for 12 weeks.

Talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your Saxenda schedule or dosing. With their guidance, some modifications may be possible if needed for planned events, vacations, or side effect management while minimizing reductions in efficacy.

Who Should Not Skip Saxenda Doses?

While skipping Saxenda doses is not advised for anyone using the medication, it’s particularly important for certain groups to take it consistently every day:

  • People with diabetes – Saxenda helps lower blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes. Skipping doses frequently can cause blood glucose spikes and make diabetes harder to control.
  • Recent starters – When first beginning Saxenda, it’s common to experience temporary GI side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Skipping doses early in treatment may prolong these side effects.
  • Those who’ve had bariatric surgery – Saxenda is sometimes prescribed after procedures like gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy to help manage hunger and maintain weight loss. Missing doses can increase appetite and cause weight regain.

People in these groups should be extra diligent about taking Saxenda daily without scheduled “drug holidays” or frequent skipped doses.

Tips to Prevent Missed Doses

It can be challenging to remember a daily injection, but there are strategies to help avoid forgotten or missed Saxenda doses:

  • Take Saxenda at the same time each day to establish a routine, such as first thing in the morning or before dinner.
  • Pair Saxenda with another daily habit like brushing your teeth, taking vitamins, or feeding pets.
  • Set a daily reminder on your phone, watch, or other device.
  • Mark injections on a calendar. Check off each dose and look ahead to plan for changes in schedule.
  • Store Saxenda pens somewhere visible as a visual reminder, like on the kitchen counter or bathroom sink.
  • Sign up for Rx reminders from your pharmacy to alert you when Saxenda refills are due.
  • Have a backup pen or extra needles available in case supplies run out.

Talk to your doctor if remembering to take Saxenda daily is a significant struggle even with reminder strategies. They may recommend adjusting the timing or switching to a longer-acting GLP-1 receptor agonist medication dosed less frequently, such as once-weekly Wegovy or monthly Skyrizi.

Key Points

  • Saxenda is intended to be injected once every day without skipping doses for the best weight loss effects and diabetes control.
  • Occasionally missing a dose by accident is understandable, but the missed dose should be administered as soon as possible within 12 hours.
  • Intentionally skipping Saxenda for 1-2 days per week or taking regular “drug holidays” can reduce its efficacy and is not recommended.
  • Those with diabetes and people recently starting Saxenda should be extra careful not to miss doses.
  • Setting reminders, establishing a routine, and other strategies can help prevent forgotten doses.


Saxenda should be taken every day as prescribed for optimal results. While an occasional missed dose may happen, you should not purposefully skip days each week or schedule regular medication breaks. Skipping Saxenda too frequently can decrease its effectiveness for weight loss, appetite control, and blood sugar regulation in people with diabetes. If needing a temporary break from Saxenda, talk to your healthcare provider about options like briefly reducing the dosage rather than completely stopping so efficacy is retained as much as possible.