FDA Warns Against Fake Botox: A Dermatologist’s Guide To A Safe Botox Experience

Last month the news was flooded with Botox -related stories: First there was the U.K. Department of Health panel report that called for stricter regulation of dermal fillers (the category of products that includes Botox.) Just a week later, the United States Food and Drug Administration released a warning about a rash of counterfeit Botox that was sold to healthcare professionals.

The negative press hasn’t changed medical professionals’ confidence in Botox, which can be used to treat wrinkles, headaches, and other conditions.

“Botox, when used in a controlled way by people who know when they’re doing, is safe,” said Dr. Richard Thomas, Clinical Associate Professor of Clinical Dermatology, Department of Dermatology and Skin Science, University of British Columbia.

Health risks come into play when Botox is administered by inexperienced practitioners or diluted with chemicals not meant to be injected into human flesh, becoming a substance commonly referred to as “fake Botox.”

Here are some tips for keeping your skin safe when you use Botox:

1. Ask about the qualifications of the person administering the Botox.

Does he or she have a license or a medical degree of some kind? How much experience does he or she have working with Botox?

Treat Botox professionals with the same degree of skepticism you would any other medical professional. After all, you wouldn’t allow the lady who lives down the street who has no prior medical training operating on your leg, now would you?

If you live in a country that has a national registry for medical professionals, use the registry to verify legitimacy. If you live in a place like the U.K., which does not have a national registry, get recommendations from medical professionals and trusted friends.

2. Find out what brand of dermal filler is used.

In 2004, four people were hospitalized for poisoning after being injected with unapproved botulinum toxin that had been passed off as Botox.

To avoid potentionally harmful substances masquerading as a dermal filler, learn what dermal fillers are approved in the country in which you live, and stay abreast of fake Botox outbreaks.

In the US only 14 dermal fillers are approved by the FDA. If you live in a place where the dermal filler industry is less regulated (in Europe there are currently over 190 dermal fillers available), research to find out which brands are most trusted.

To learn more about the possible side effects of receiving fake Botox injections from a person who does not have the proper qualifications, read about the incidences that inspired the United Kingdom Department of Health’s investigation into regulating the cosmetic industry.

Have any other tips? Share in the comments!