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Is Botox Safe? The Potential Risks of Botox

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Woman experiencing pain when receiving botox from professional.

Botox treatments can be used to address many therapeutic and cosmetic conditions. But, the common question around its use remains the same: is it safe?

Before we skip to the juicy details, we’ll tell you the simple answer. When administered correctly by a licensed medical professional with proper training, yes, it is safe. But, with all medical procedures come risks, and knowing what those are can help inform your decision about this practice.

Please book a consultation with us to learn more about how Botox can enhance your wellness. 

Infographic illustration of what to expect during botox injection

Botox 101

Botox is the abbreviated term for the protein complex called botulinum toxin type A, produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Other types of toxins used as injectables exist on the market, and the umbrella term is neuromodulators

Now, here’s the only slightly scary part: this toxin is the same one that causes food poisoning and can be life-threatening in large doses. However, since Botox injections use a minimal amount in specific and small muscle areas, it’s considered safe, and Health Canada approves its use. Additionally, it’s a non-surgical procedure and minimally invasive.

During your session with an experienced physician, you’ll receive an injection with a fine needle that feels like a slight pinch. Each session takes about 30 minutes.

You’ll start to notice the results set in about a week after the injection. And, each treatment lasts 3 to 4 months, so to maintain results, you will have to book subsequent sessions.

What Does Botox Treat?

When used as a therapeutic treatment, Botox can relieve certain conditions associated with muscle dysfunction. 

  • Cervical dystonia: Commonly known as neck spasms, Botox can intercept the messages between the brain and the muscles, causing the spasm.
  • Hyperhidrosis: This condition describes excessive sweating, even when a person has not been exercising or feeling warm. Botox injections can interrupt signals to the sweat glands.
  • Chronic migraines: Migraines can be debilitating, and injecting Botox into specific points can help relieve your symptoms by blocking the chemical release from certain nerve endings.

Aside from therapeutic treatments, Botox has become a household name for cosmetic concerns, usually used to reduce signs of aging and as a preventative measure against wrinkles. 

When we inject Botox into depressor muscles (muscles whose contraction pulls down like brows or corners of the mouth), we lift the brows and help give a more open, happy expression. The results offer a fresh, rested appearance and a less angry expression.

Wrinkles develop when the muscles under your skin repeatedly flex in the same place, causing visible creases. Think of those who love to laugh—you may see crow’s feet appear at the outer corner of the eyes. And, many of us use our eyebrows to show expression, causing forehead lines and eyebrow creases. Some other regularly treated areas include:

  • Frown lines
  • Under the eye
  • Upper lip lines
  • Chin dimples
  • Gummy smile
  • Top of the nose

Why Do People Get Botox?

Getting Botox depends on each patient’s circumstances and financial situation

People seek therapeutic Botox as a treatment method for their chronic muscle pain. It’s an effective non-surgical alternative.

Cosmetic Botox is undoubtedly a personal choice. These treatments help reduce fine lines and wrinkles—when you look good, you feel good. And Botox can help enhance confidence and empower self-esteem.

Woman experiencing pain when receiving botox from professional.

Potential Risks of Botox

Now, let’s get to the details you came here for—what are the risks associated with Botox? Even though neuromodulator treatments are generally safe, some complications and side effects could arise. Most of the common side effects associated with the treatment are from using a needle, and not the Botox itself.

Around the injection site, you may notice the following:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Redness
  • Drooping (due to Botox)

After Your Appointment

Botox bonus: after your appointment, there’s no social downtime. Meaning, you can get a treatment on your lunch break and return to work, no problem. 

However, to ensure the Botox does not move to non-targeted muscles, please avoid the following for 4 hours to prevent the Botox from moving:

  • Touching or rubbing the treated areas
  • Lying down or bending over for extended periods
  • Getting a massage or doing any form of exercise

If the Botox travels to a non-targeted area, you could experience weakness and drooping where it was not intended. Dispersion of the Botox could also minimize the effects on the targeted area. After 4 hours, you can continue your day without limitations.

When Will I See Results?

The effect of the Botox gradually sets it, with initial results appearing around 3 to 5 days after your appointment and full onset after 2 weeks. To maintain the desired aesthetic or therapeutic results, you’ll book your next session in 3 to 4 months.

Choose a Trained Injector

Botox must be administered by a certified injector who can inject the neuromodulator properly and avoid adverse reactions. 

The muscles in the face are complex and overlap intricately. Inexperienced injectors may accidentally inject a neighbouring muscle, which may lead to temporary facial asymmetry or drooping for 3 to 4 months until the drug wears off. Injectables are a treatment where training and experience are worth their weight in gold.

Your injector will take a detailed medical history and assess your current health status, therapeutic needs, and aesthetic goals. 

Results of Botox can vary from person to person, so during your consultation, we’ll assess your unique situation and create a tailored plan to reach your goals. 

Is Botox Right for Me?

Now you have an overview of the potential risks associated with Botox. Even though it’s considered safe, it may not be the best treatment for every situation. Find out if Botox is right for you by getting a consultation with a trained injector.

Start your journey towards enhanced wellness and confidence today.

Written by Dr. Bobby Sreenivasan

Dr. Sreenivasan is a graduate of the University of Alberta Medical Program, where he completed both his undergraduate and post-graduate training. After graduating in 2002, he practiced in Edmonton until 2011, at which point he began practicing in Calgary. His medical interests include preventative care medicine with a focus on bioidentical hormone balancing. He also has a keen interest in cosmetic procedures such as BOTOX, fillers, PRP, skin rejuvenation, and hair restoration surgery.

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