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Does Botox Cause Death?

In light of the recent tragedy that took place a week ago where someone died after a cosmetic treatment, it is understandable that people are confused and worried about undergoing aesthetic treatments, especially Botox.

Before providing the answer to the above question, it is important to first understand what exactly is Botox and how it works.

What is Botox?

Botulinum toxin, often referred to as Botox, is a neurotoxic protein produced by Clostridium botulinum. 

There are eight known types of botulinum toxin, named type A-H. Types A and B are used in medicine to treat various muscle spasms and diseases characterized by overactive muscle activity. 

Common commercial brands of botulinum toxin are marketed under brand names BotoxDysport, and Xeomin, among others.

Botulinum toxin type A is the most common cosmetic procedure performed worldwide with an estimate of nearly 3 million injections per year.

Is Botox dangerous?

Paracelsus, a Swiss physician and a pioneer of ‘medical revolution’ once said, “All things are poisons and there is nothing that is harmless, the dose alone decides that something is no poison.”

Botox, just like any medication, has risks and benefits. Although Botox is a neurotoxin, which sounds scary, it is perfectly safe as long as it is administered by a medical doctor. 

In order for it to be an effective and safe treatment, the doctor has to determine the dosage, frequency of treatment, and whether Botox is a suitable treatment to treat the clinical conditions.

What happens to your body when you receive a Botox treatment?

The doctor dilutes the concentrate with saline to make it injectable. By diluting it with saline, the doctor is essentially watering down its full effects so that it becomes safe for use. 

The chemicals kick into action, blocking nerve transmission in nearby muscles, temporarily freezing the area to reduce its movement. In the case of a wrinkle treatment, the injected muscle can no longer contract, which causes the wrinkles to relax and soften, and also prevent new ones from forming.

botox forehead chin

Effects of Botox remain localized in the area and it does not spread all over the body as it does not have a systemic effect. You should, however note that Botox may migrate between 2 and 3 cm from the point of injection. Simply put, you may experience uneven facial expression, including a lopsided smile or droopy eyelids. Again, these unwanted, harmless side effects are temporary.

It is also common for the injection site to swell or become red or bruised for a few days if the doctor is inexperienced. 

Once the treatment is over, the effects usually last for up to four months and a touch-up is needed again. 

So what happens when Botox treatment goes wrong?

Before undergoing a Botox treatment, a responsible doctor should explain the benefits and potential side effects to you. The function of Botox is to temporarily paralyze overactive muscles. In rare cases, the toxin can spread beyond the injection site to other parts of the body, paralyzing muscles used for breathing and swallowing, which may cause breathing difficulties and subsequently, death.

When the treatment goes wrong, you may exhibit “botulism-like symptoms” such as muscle weakness, difficulty in breathing, speaking or swallowing, vision problems, and bladder control issues. 

Although experiencing such adverse side effects are extremely rare, they should be convincing enough to deter anyone to go bargain hunting for Botox.

1 Response

  1. A. Chia

    Hi Dr. Siew, I have read a few articles written by local aesthetic doctors responding to the recent news report. In my opinion, your article is the only one thus far, that is objectively written. Thank your for taking time to write this.

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