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The drug Botox has been used medicinally for several decades. Despite this, many people don’t fully understand what it is or how it works. Worse, there is a lot of misinformation out there on Botox, and consumers often believe that Botox Cosmetic is dangerous or toxic. We want to set the record straight so that you have the facts on what exactly Botox is and how it’s used.
What is Botox?
Botulinum toxin (Botox) is a drug and a neurotoxin. It is a protein that is produced naturally by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The commercially available form of Botox is made under strict conditions in a laboratory setting. The protein is carefully measured, freeze-dried, and sterilized in a glass container or vial. Once it gets to your injector’s office, it can be stored in the refrigerator until it is ready to be used.
The protein powder mixed with saline looks like clear water before it’s injected. Once it’s mixed, your injector can measure the exact number of units of Botox based on the volume of liquid in a syringe. This is how you “dose” Botox.
Is Botox a Poison?
No. Commercially prepared Botox is not poisonous however, it is a toxin. Just like any other drug, such as alcohol, it will produce an effect on your body. And just like any other drug, if it is misused or overused, it may cause unwanted or harmful effects. It is important for you to understand that botulism and Botox are not the same things. To prove that point, we let our patients know that Botox has a better safety record than over-the-counter aspirin!
There have been a few lawsuits in the past claiming that cases of death were due to Botox. If you look at these, you’ll find that Botox has never definitively been linked to a death. Another important point is that these cases involved very high doses of Botox commonly used for other medical conditions like cerebral palsy—not the small doses that we use to treat cosmetic conditions.
Is Botox Safe?
Yes. Although you may think of Botox as a “fun” treatment that’s given in a spa or a more relaxed setting, you need to remember that it is still a drug. Like other drugs such as Tylenol, aspirin, and alcohol, Botox can be toxic or harmful when used incorrectly or improperly. When it’s used how it’s supposed to be, Botox is extremely safe and gives predictable, enjoyable results!
Remember that only tiny doses of Botox are used to smooth away unwanted lines and wrinkles. When Botox is used for other conditions such as the painful muscle spasms of cerebral palsy, the doses can be 20, 50, or even 100 times higher! Yet, these are still safe doses of Botox that provide relief for these patients without causing any harm.
How Do I Know How Much Botox I am Getting?
Ultimately, unless you’re mixing and drawing up your own Botox before your treatment, you don’t! The most important safeguard is finding a good injector that you can build a trusting relationship with.
As a rule, if the effects of your Botox last about 3 to 4 months, then you are getting the correct dosage. If you notice that it doesn’t last that long, you may not be getting what you need and you should discuss this with your injector.