Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Botox, essentially a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, is today used widely all over the world. From celebrities to your average Joe, everyone is either using Botox or knows someone who is using the drug. An injectable drug, Botox is injected in small and targeted doses to prevent any side effects. Botox is used for treating wrinkles and making your skin look younger.

Botox is actually a neurotoxin. It is the very same toxin that can potentially also cause botulism, which is a kind of life-threatening food poisoning. The same Botox is also injected in small and targeted doses to treat wrinkles produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, Botox works by stopping certain signals originating from your nerves from reaching your muscles. The blocking of these signals stops the targeted muscles from contracting, thus easing the pressure and strain on the muscles. Botox also eases muscular conditions. This is how Botox works at reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

Are You taking Risk by using Botox Injection?

Are You taking Risk by using Botox Injection?

In small doses, the botulinum toxin is not known to be dangerous. From 1989 to 2003, only 36 cases of serious side effects have been reported from the cosmetic use of Botox to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Out of these 36 cases, only 13 were caused due to an underlying condition in the individual rather than the actual Botox drug.

Keeping these statistics in mind, experts say that the cosmetic use of Botox does not carry much of a risk as compared to the therapeutic Botox injections that are in use today. This is because in cosmetic applications a very small dose of Botox is actually used. According to a 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, side effects are more likely to be caused in cases where Botox is being used for therapeutic purposes. This is because this may interfere with an underlying condition the individual might be having, or it may also be caused because of the higher doses of Botox that are needed for the treatment of the condition.

Overall, though, the risk from Botox use if quite minimal and Botox is considered to be safe for use.

You should, however, always keep in mind that you should only get Botox administered by a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. If you go to an inexperienced doctor who is not efficient in preparing the Botox injections as per the FDA standards, then the risk of an adverse reaction increases. Even an inexperienced doctor is likely to cause some harm.

What are the Potential Side Effects of Botox?

While Botox injections are considered to be relatively safe, there might be some side effects that may show up in some individuals. These potential side effects include:

  • A headache
  • Fever
  • Pain, bruising, or inflammation at the injection site
  • Chills

Some particular side effects, associated with the site of the injection include:

If you receive the injections near or around the eyes, you may experience the following:

  • Dry eyes
  • Uneven eyebrows
  • Excessive tears
  • Drooping eyelids

Injections that are given near or around the mouth may cause you to develop a 'crooked' smile or it may also lead to drooling.

Most of these side effects, though, are considered to be temporary and usually subside within 2 to 3 days on their own. However, some side effects such as drooling, asymmetry, and drooping eyelids, are known to the caused by the toxin itself. Therefore, these reactions might take a couple of weeks to wear off.

In some rare cases, you may notice some symptoms that indicate food poisoning. These are known to be botulism symptoms, and they require immediate medical attention. Contact a doctor immediately if you notice any of the following side effects:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty in seeing properly, particularly if you experience double vision
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Fatigue and generalized weakness

What are the Long-Term Side Effects of Botox?

Due to the popularity of Botox and the high level of success of Botox injections, many people opt for getting several injections over a period of time. However, the experts recommend that there is no proven data on the long-term efficacy of Botox injections and whether or not it is safe to receive so many Botox injections over a period of time.

A study conducted by the Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital and Tzu Chi University in 2015, showed the effects of Botox injections in patients who received Botox injections for the treatment of bladder conditions. The study was carried out over a period of two years. The researchers were able to successfully conclude that there is no increased risk of side effects when Botox injections are used over a period of time. In fact, the study further showed that the patients who received these repeated Botox injections had a higher rate of success in the bladder condition.

On the other hand, another study conducted in 2015 by the US FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, showed that there might be several side effects that may appear after the 10th or the 11th injection.

Another study done by the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas performed a study where 45 participants received repeated Botox injections over a period of 12 years. The study found that there were 20 cases of serious side effects reported from the study. These adverse reactions included:

  • Drooping eyelid
  • Weakness in the neck
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting or/and nausea
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Weakness - generalized or marked
  • Edema
  • Hoarseness and difficulty speaking
  • Heart palpitations

These studies indicate that more thorough research is still needed to properly understand and observe the long-term effects of Botox.

Conclusion

If you are considering using Botox for some procedure, keep in mind that any medication can have risks associated with it. Therefore, to keep yourself safe from the side effects of Botox, it is important that you choose a licensed medical professional only for carrying out the procedure. It might cost you a little bit more money, but using an unlicensed doctor might just cost your health. The effects of Botox only last for 4 to 8 months, so if you want the effect to continue, you will need to get the injections again. The best recommendation is to consult your doctor and the discuss all potential side effects of Botox before you decide to take the injection.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 7, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest