What You Need to Know About Fake Botox and How to Stay Safe

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Fake neurotoxin injections, or fake Botox, have emerged as a significant threat to public health. In recent years, counterfeit versions of the popular injectable have circulated in several states, leading to dangerous complications and hospitalizations. According to a recent report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 19 people have experienced adverse reactions to botulinum toxin injections, with nine requiring hospitalization.

The affected patients are all women who range in age from 25 to 59. The cases are located in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee and Washington. Most of these incidents involved untrained individuals injecting Botox in non-healthcare settings like homes and spas, prompting warnings from public health authorities and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Featured Experts

  • Dr. Deborah Longwill is a board-certified dermatologist in Miami 
  • Jeffrey Antimarino, MD is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Pittsburgh
  • Marina Peredo, MD is a board-certified dermatologist in New York 
  • Leo R. McCafferty, MD is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Pittsburgh
  • Michael Bassiri-Tehrani, MD is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in New York 
  • Theda C. Kontis, MD is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in Baltimore, MD 

Why Is Fake Botox Dangerous?

Counterfeit Botox can be loaded with dangerous chemicals or incorrect dosages, causing severe reactions. According to the experts the problem starts with the provider. “These incidents occurred when counterfeit Botox is injected by licensed and unlicensed individuals in nonmedical settings,” notes New York facial plastic surgeon Michael Bassiri-Tehrani, MD.

Counterfeit Botox may contain improper or unsafe ingredients that can lead to severe health complications. As a result, the search results indicate that counterfeit Botox has caused symptoms like blurred vision, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, and difficulty lifting the head. These symptoms are signs of botulism, a rare and potentially fatal illness caused by the botulinum toxin.

When seeking Botox treatment, it’s crucial to choose reputable providers. To ensure safety, Dr. Bassiri-Tehrani emphasizes that board-certified physicians like plastic surgeons, facial plastic surgeons and dermatologists all have proper training and experience with these injections. “The board-certified physicians, like plastic surgeons, facial plastic surgeons and dermatologists, all have training and experience with these injections. They didn’t just take a weekend course. It took significant effort and expense to get to this level. It would be illogical to risk our licenses to save a few dollars.”

How to Protect Yourself 

To protect yourself, Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill recommends verifying the product’s authenticity. “Ask your provider to verify the source of the Botox, check the packaging, and examine the batch numbers,” she advises. “Your physician should be buying directly from manufacturers approved by the FDA, such as AbbVie or Galderma. Legitimate vials have specific lot numbers that can be traced back to the companies. The products should not be purchased from third parties or online.”

Additionally, Dr. Bassiri-Tehrani suggests taking it a step further by asking the provider to mix the product in front of you to ensure its authenticity and freshness. Moreover, he advises that if something feels off, you should trust your instincts and avoid questionable practices. “If you have a bad feeling about the practice or the staff, trust your instinct,” he says. “Ask yourself, ‘How permanent is this doctor?’“

Ask the Right Questions

Furthermore, Baltimore, MD facial plastic surgeon Theda Kontis, MD suggests questioning low prices. “If Botox is offered at an unusually low price, be suspicious,” she says. Dr. Kontis cautions that unethical providers might use counterfeit products to cut costs, posing risks of severe damage or even life-threatening complications.

Knowing what to watch out for can help you avoid dangerous injections. Dr. Antimarino cautions, “People seeking bargains and the lowest prices risk potential injury or health issues if they use untrained providers or unlicensed spas.”

Red Flags to Watch For

New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD warns that fake Botox could be expired or intended for animal research. She states, “If the price of Botox or other toxins is too low, that should raise an eyebrow. When it comes to medical cosmetic procedures, don’t cut corners in an attempt to find the cheapest place because you’re putting your health at risk.”

Pittsburgh plastic surgeon Leo R. McCafferty, MD suggests avoiding “Botox parties” or treatments in non-medical facilities, stating, “The safest and best place to get any neuromodulator, including Botox, is in a board-certified physician’s office with a certified injector or a licensed medical spa with board-certified physicians and licensed injectors.”

By following these expert tips, you can ensure your safety at your next treatment. If something feels off, trust your instincts and seek treatment from experienced professionals in licensed medical facilities. Ultimately, don’t let the temptation of a bargain compromise your health and safety.

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