9. RISKS AND CONTRA-INDICATIONS (IS BOTOX SAFE?)

Botox is an FDA approved treatment. If administered by a professional, Botox injection is generally safe and the incidence of severe side effects is very minute. Like any drug though, the potential for side effects cannot be completely overruled. Due to the route of administration, the risk of bruising or swelling of the injected area is always present. This could come with pain and discomfort. You may need to take an analgesic for your pain but if the pain remains at uncomfortable levels, you may need to see your healthcare provider.

If you had your Botox injection close to your eye, you may experience drooping of the eyelids due to Botox migration. If this occurs, it could last until the effects of the injection wears off (about 3-6 months). You may have to live with it if it doesn’t cause any symptoms. If you are however experiencing other symptoms such as double vision, please contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Administration around the lips also poses a great risk. If incorrectly administered, the drug could paralyze all the muscles in the lips, leading to inability to move the lips and consequently, inability to carry out some essential functions such as speaking coherently.

Some other side effects have been reported following Botox use but most are usually mild and resolve in 24-hours or less. Such side effects may include nausea, facial tightness, dry-mouth, sore-throat, flu-like symptoms, etc. If these symptoms persist or worsen, you may need to seek medical attention. The possibility of severe allergic reactions also exists; just like is present for any other medication. Such reactions reaction normally occurs almost immediately after the drug is administered. Since you would be taking your shot from a physician, adequate provisions would be made in case such a reaction occurs. In the unlikely event that the reaction is delayed, please contact an emergency service if you notice symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, tightness in your chest, bulging tongue, severe itching around injection area or all over the body etc.

Studies are ongoing to establish the long term safety of Botox injections. At present though, no debilitating long term side effect has been observed. Some studies have shown that prolonged use of Botox may lead to muscle atrophy and appearance of new wrinkles. Botox has also been reported as addictive, especially if started at an early age.

The drug carries a boxed warning citing the potential for a very serious complication. This could occur if the toxin is not diluted properly or is allowed to enter the systemic circulation or spread to other areas of the body. The classic signs of botulism including weakness, trouble seeing, fatigue and slurred speech may occur. This condition is life-threatening and should be treated as an emergency. Reports of such occurrences have majorly been attributed to the illegal use of Botox. It is important to ensure you get your injections from a registered physician.

If you are taking any other medicine, please inform your doctor before getting a Botox injection. Interactions with antibiotics, blood thinners, muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, cold or allergy medicine, bronchodilators, and many other prescriptions and over the counter drugs have been reported. These interactions could affect the activity of Botox or the drug it is coadministered with.

There has been no definite conclusion about the safety or otherwise of Botox during pregnancy. It is generally advised that Botox for cosmetic purposes should not be given to pregnant women as the benefit does not outweigh the risk.

You should also inform your doctor if you have any disorders such as bleeding disorders or muscle and joint disorders.