Whoever said staying beautiful is a breeze? Just ask someone who’s had a round of Botox injections and is grappling with the bruises… However, bruising is one of the less serious side effects of Botox injections; muscle weakness is the most feared one.
Botox or botulinum toxin (OnabotulinumtoxinA) is a protein extracted from clostridium botulinum, a bacteria usually implicated in a fatal type of food poisoning called botulism. In small amounts, Botox injections are considered useful for both beauty and medical reasons.
Wrinkles and fine lines form over years due to the continuous contraction of your facial muscles. Botox, a toxin from a bacteria, stops nerves from sending signals for muscle contraction.
The toxin works on the nerve endings, skeletal muscles, and smooth muscles and stops the nerves from sending signals for muscle contraction. This way, it can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, which are a result of continuous muscle contractions over a long period of time.
It also eases overactive muscles in health conditions like lazy eyes, eye twitches or blepharospasm, muscle disorders like cervical dystonia, excessive sweating, and even an overactive bladder. It is also used for migraines, though how it cures migraines is not exactly clear.1 2 The desired effects of Botox manifest fully in 3 to 5 days and last up to 4 months.3
If you’re considering Botox, keep these 5 possible side effects in mind.
The most common side effect of Botox is bruising, which is caused more by the injection than the toxin.4 After all, it’s a tiny injury! Bruising is more likely to happen around the eyes where the number of blood vessels are high. They are also more common in people who take blood thinners like aspirin, vitamin E, and ibuprofen. If you are on these medicines, stop 2 weeks before you get a Botox shot.5 If you do have bruising, it should go away within a week.6
2. Pain And Swelling
Pain, redness, and swelling are also likely. These are more an immune reaction than a side effect and develop right around the injection site.7 Don’t touch or massage the injection area for 3 days; instead, use an ice pack. The pain and swelling usually go away along with the bruising. If they don’t, speak to your doctor.
3. Drooping Eyelids Or A Crooked Grin
Botox could sometimes play havoc with your beauty goals too. That’s how some people end up with a crooked grin, a droopy eyelid, or a raised eyebrow. While this is a rare side effect, it can happen when the toxin travels to places other than its target location.8 It’s best not to do physically exerting tasks for a few hours after the injection. Any activity that increases your blood circulation raises the risk of the toxin spreading.
4. Muscle Weakness
Temporary weakness of nearby muscles is the most feared side effect. They can even become paralyzed. However, this won’t last forever. It typically subsides within a few weeks or months, depending on the strength of the Botox injections – and where you get it from. Very rarely, the toxin can spread through blood to muscles away from the injection site and weaken or paralyze them. This happens mostly because of an error during injecting it, which is why it is essential to get your Botox injection at a reliable place.9 10
5. Flu-Like Symptoms
Flu-like symptoms like fever, runny nose, and sore throat are other possible side effects. This is caused by a reaction of your immune system. You might also have a minor headache, but research suggests that it might also have to do with the trauma of an injection.11 The symptoms last for a day. Some cases of diarrhea and vomiting have also been reported.
See A Doctor If You Have Botulism Symptoms
Usually, 2 allergy tests a month before Botox rule out the possibility of a severe allergic reaction. But, sometimes the toxin can spread to other locations and cause botulism, a fatal infection. Look out for these symptoms:12 13
- Wheezing and difficulty breathing and swallowing (if the injected area is the neck)
- Hoarseness or change or loss of voice
- Difficulty saying words clearly
- Double or blurred vision (if the injected area is near the eyes)
- Loss of strength and muscle weakness all over the body
- Difficulty controlling bladder
Ask Your Doctor Before You Opt For Botox
Talk with your doctor to see if Botox is a good choice for you, whether it is your first time or you are going for a reboost. In some cases, Botox may not work if you have already been exposed to it. This is because your body already has antibodies to fight the toxin and flush it out. In some people, however, it may not at all work even the first time around.
You can’t have Botox if you:
- Have diseases of the motor neurons, nerve damage, psychological disorders, myasthenia gravis, asthma, bleeding problems, or urinary disorders
- Are allergic to chemicals in Botox cosmetic injections
- Are pregnant or lactating – while there’s hardly any evidence against using Botox in pregnant or lactating ladies, most doctors would not advise it14
Be sure to work with a good doctor or plastic surgeon who specializes in this procedure. And, as always, follow their instructions during the healing process.
|↑1, ↑7||Botox. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑2, ↑3, ↑12||Botox. University of California San Francisco Medical Center.|
|↑4||Botox. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑5, ↑9||Nigam, P.K. and Nigam, Anjana. Botulinum Toxin. Indian Journal of Dermatology 55.1 (2010): 8-14.|
|↑6, ↑8||Botulinum Toxin Therapy. American Academy of Dermatology|
|↑10||Bakheit, A. M., C. D. Ward, and D. L. McLellan. “Generalised botulism-like syndrome after intramuscular injections of botulinum toxin type A: a report of two cases.” Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 62, no. 2 (1997): 198.|
|↑11||Nigam, P. K., and Anjana Nigam. “Botulinum toxin.” Indian journal of dermatology 55, no. 1 (2010): 8.|
|↑13, ↑14||MEDICATION GUIDE BOTOX® BOTOX® Cosmetic. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.|