4 Botox Myths Debunked
Botox has gotten a bad rap over the years. Even though it’s been used for cosmetic purposes for over 20 years and has been approved for treating neurological disorders and other health issues for decades, several myths prevail.
“I’m here to set the record straight on Botox and counter these myths with fact,” says Yoav Kaufman, MD, FACS, a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “My hope is that this will give you a more informed view of one of the most effective and cost-efficient wrinkle treatments available.”
Myth: Botox Is Unsafe
One of the most widely believed myths is that because Botox is derived from botulinum toxin, it can cause botulism food poisoning, which affects the central nervous system and can cause widespread paralysis.
FACT: When Botox is administered by a qualified practitioner in small, regulated doses, it only temporarily paralyzes the intended muscles and does not typically travel to other parts of the body. Even if it does move between nerve cells, the amount of the toxin injected would most likely not cause any issues.
That’s not to say there isn’t some risk involved when getting Botox (or any other cosmetic procedure), but the risks are low. According to a 2005 study, between 1989 and 2003 only 36 serious adverse effects from cosmetic use of Botox were reported among the millions of patients treated. In 13 of those cases, the patients had underlying medical conditions that could explain the adverse reaction.
Myth: Botox Looks Unnatural
Yes, in certain cases Botox can result in an unnatural or frozen appearance, but that is almost always due to the injection being administered by someone who is unqualified or an individual insisting upon getting too much Botox in too many areas of the face.
FACT: When administered correctly and within regulations, Botox strategically targets specific muscles and relaxes them to diminish wrinkles and create a smooth, youthful appearance. Because Botox is so concentrated, it’s crucial to inject the drug carefully and precisely to maintain a natural balance within the muscles. Dosing and correct placement are a must.
"Before receiving injections, always be sure your practitioner is qualified and well trained," explains Dr. Kaufman. "Ask questions, and if anything raises doubt, go somewhere else. The good news is that if Botox does result in an unnatural look, it can be fixed or will dissipate within a few weeks."
Myth: Botox Builds Up in the Body
This myth typically presents in tandem with the myth that Botox is unsafe. The thought is that the toxin never leaves the body. Even though the effects only last a few months, the toxin itself just moves from nerve cell to nerve cell, building up within the body and causing issues.
FACT: Put simply, Botox does not build up in the body. New nerve impulses are regenerated every 3-4 months, which is why treatment is required every few months to maintain results. When the effects wear off, you can be sure that the toxin is no longer in the muscles or nerve cells. It will be expelled from the body naturally.
Myth: Botox Is Addictive
The belief is that the botulinum toxin itself has addictive properties and people become physically addicted to the drug, much like prescription pain killers.
FACT: There is absolutely nothing in Botox that would make it addictive. When Botox is used for health purposes, as opposed to cosmetic purposes, a patient may rely upon the medication to ease symptoms. But they are not physically addicted to the drug. That’s not to say that some people aren’t addicted to the results they receive from getting Botox, but the substance itself is not addictive.
"That's not to say that some people aren't addicted to the results they receive from getting Botox, but the substance itself is not addictive," concludes Dr. Kaufman.
Feeling better about Botox? It’s always important to get the facts about any cosmetic procedure you're considering before you go in for treatment. Most importantly, when you do decide on treatment, you should do your research on the practitioner first. Dr. Kaufman’s team at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston is highly trained on the administration of Botox and is ready to answer any questions you may have.