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July 22, 2019

Is Botox detrimental to your health?

Assessing the risks of using a toxin to look younger

Adult Health Plastic Surgery
Botox_treatment_London PA Images/Sipa USA

In colder regions, people tend to pay more attention to their faces than they do their butts or breasts says Dr. Ryan Heffelfinger, co-director of the Herbert Kean Center for Facial Aesthetics at Thomas Jefferson University. In this picture, a London woman receives a skin rejuvenation treatment.

Botox has been an anti-aging treatment for decades, but how much do you really know about its long-term impact on your health?

Botox injections are made from Clostridium botulinum bacterium, a very dangerous toxin that causes paralysis by blocking nerve signals in the body. Botulism can be fatal, but in small doses in a targeted area, the toxin has proven to be safe to use. The most common cosmetic treatment areas are around the eyes, forehead and lips.

While most known for its ability to smooth out wrinkles and make you look younger, Botox was originally created to treat people with crossed eyes, lazy eye and eyelid spasms. Today, it is used to help treat a variety of medical conditions including migraine headache, extreme sweating, foot and leg pain and an overactive bladder, according to Penn MedicineAmerican Society of Plastic Surgeons and Mayo Clinic. 

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Some doctors also prescribe it to treat depression, Bell’s palsy and to reduce the look of surgical scars.

Despite all these positive applications of Botox, it is important to remember that you are putting a toxin in your body. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, side effects include “bruising and pain at injection site, flu-like symptoms, headache, nausea, temporary facial weakness or drooping.” If the toxin spreads to other parts of the body, it can also cause “breathing problems, trouble swallowing, muscle weakness and slurred speech." 

Some studies show that adverse side effects increase with long-term use of Botox injections. One particular study found that 20 out of 45 participants experienced long-term adverse side effects like difficulty swallowing and chewing, neck weakness, and trouble with vision and speech. More research appears needed to truly understand how Botox can affect your health over time. 

For your safety, only receive Botox injections from a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

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