Botox is short for Botulinum toxin. It is obtained from a bacteria called clostridium botulinum the same bacteria that causes botulism. However, in the cosmetic and aesthetic industry, Botox has much lower dosage specific and targeted use. Botox is used in skin conditions such as wrinkle, “crow’s feet”, saggy skin, nasolabial fold, marionette lines and frown lines.
Other uses of Botox outside the cosmetic field are for lazy eys, chronic migraine, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), twitching of the eyes and urinary incontinence due to bladder dysfunction. To understand the side effects of Botox injection, we first need to understand its mechanism of action.
Botox works by blocking a neuromuscular junction by inhibiting the release of acetylcholine, a chemical that stimulates muscle contraction. This, in turn, causes muscle paralysis. With an appropriate dose, the effect of Botox injection should be limited to its intended use only. However, with any other medical intervention, Botox has its side effects, although rare, that have been recorded over the history of its use. Here are some of the notable side effects of Botox.
- Headache and flu-like symptoms
These adverse reactions can occur quite early and usually will resolve on its own. The body reacts to Botox as it is foreign to the body, hence causing flu-like symptoms.
- Dryness of the eyes or excessive tearing
The inhibition of acetylcholine not only affects the muscle, but also the glands and soft tissue as well. The effects on the eyes can last for a few weeks, thus a quick check by a doctor can ensure appropriate medical attention or advice given.
- Crooked smile or drooling
This can be really embarrassing for the patient. However, this too is a rare side effect among other Botox’s adverse reactions.
- Localised swelling and pain
Certain people have a sensitive reaction more than others towards Botox or any other form of injections which causes a local inflammatory reaction at the injection site.
- Anaphylactic reaction
This is a serious medical emergency where a person’s immune system over-react to Botox injection. The reactions include difficulty breathing, lips swelling and in the severe form, leading to low blood pressure which is categorised as anaphylactic shock.
- Difficulty swallowing or speech
In another rare circumstance, a person may develop swallowing or speech difficulty after the Botox injection. If this is happening, the person will need to be treated immediately to avoid any permanent effects.
- Vision blurriness
Vision blurriness indicates a more serious problem and needs an ophthalmologist evaluation as soon as possible.
- Paralysis (weakness all over the body)
Paralysis is exceptionally rare in Botox injection. Two conditions must be met which are the dose of Botox must be higher than the recommended dose and the injection itself must get into the main blood circulation. In wrinkle treatment, these conditions are almost impossible to happen at an expert hand.
In a nutshell, treatment with Botox injection has its risks and benefits. Consultation with an experienced dermatologist is always advisable before commencing this treatment.