BOTOX Injections (cont.)
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Risks of Botox Injections
Risks are very minor with this procedure. The main risks consist of headache, pain, and flu-like illness. In rare cases, there may be a drooping lid or eyebrow area. It is important for the cosmetic surgeon to assess the patient's lids before injecting because the patient may not be a good candidate if he or she has an extremely droopy lid to begin with or one that is held up by constantly arching the lids. Ptosis (a severe drooping of the eyelid) can happen in up to 5% of patients but is very rare if the cosmetic surgeon does this procedure often (In this author's practice, it occurs in less than 0.01%). These complications are typically very minor occurrences and resolve with time.
Recently, there have been concerns about retrograde botulinum toxin transmission, meaning that the toxin could travel back to the central nervous system, causing long-term damage. Studies done in Italy by Flavia Antonucci have been mainly on a raw form of the toxin and not any of the commercially available preparations. Additionally, these studies have been performed on animals (rats, mainly) and with the injection of the toxin to one area and in a concentration of nearly 150 times greater than normal injections for cosmetic indications, which are spread over multiple sites.
Still, there have been enough concerns that the FDA instituted a REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy) requirement for all botulinum toxin preparations that specifically addresses the issues of distant spread of the toxin and the risk of problems, leading to death, from swallowing or breathing issues in certain patients who may be susceptible after botulinum toxin treatment. All products, including Dysport, Myobloc, Xeomin, and Botox, are monitored via this strategy. This is specifically aimed at a certain population of patients receiving more than the usual doses of botulinum toxin and not aimed at the casual user of Botox, per se.
If the patient is allergic to eggs, it is very important not to use this material because it is prepared with an albumin (egg) base. Additionally, if the patient is pregnant, Botox is not recommended (pregnancy category C).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/12/2014
Joel Schlessinger, MD
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