Getting shots of Botox has become a mainstay of a majority of Americans’ personal care habits and the treatment is more popular than it ever was. In the latest data released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, it was revealed that more than 7.2 million Americans had Botox shots in 2017, and the treatment ranked as the top cosmetic minimally-invasive procedure among females.

As getting injections of the toxin has gone mainstream, more people have started to trust in the power of this treatment to maintain one’s youthful looks for as long as possible. But while it can certainly address problems ranging from crow’s feet to excessive sweating, will it cause health problems in the long run? Here are the long-term side effects of Botox that you need to be aware of.

Allergic reactions

After getting a shot of Botox, some people experience difficulty in breathing, and most think that this is a normal side effect that goes away after a few days. However, if you’ve been getting regular Botox shots and you always experience this problem, then you may be allergic to the toxin. As Botox is derived from the same bacteria as botulism, there is a risk of having an allergic reaction to the ingredients used to make the injectable. Dr. Dennis Gross, who created Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, told TODAY that some reactions that were reported “include itching, rash, welts, asthma symptoms, or feeling faint.”

Permanent paralysis of the muscle

Botox stops the signs of aging by paralyzing the muscles in the injection site so that they don’t change or age. A well-placed shot of Botox can give one a fresh, natural look, but too much of the toxin can lead to the “frozen” look as seen on some Hollywood celebrities. The good news is that it wears off after a few months, so your face can be as expressive as it once was. However, repeated injections to a particular part of the face or body can lead to permanent muscle paralysis.

Take the case of former permanent makeup artist Belinda Hayle. The UK artist who was known as “The Brow Queen” of Towie started getting biannual Botox injections at the age of 35. After 10 years of treatment, one Botox shot felt different than the others and Hayle started experiencing flu-like symptoms and had facial paralysis. After a week, things returned to normal and the Towie native thought that she was cured. But after 10 days, she felt ill again and when she was taken to the specialist, Hayle was told that she had the worst case of botulism that the doctor has ever seen.

“I’ve been left with permanent facial paralysis,” said Hayle to The Sun, adding that she had special mouth guards fitted to help her swallow. She also revealed that her speech has been affected and that she is constantly in pain.

Toxins spreading to other parts of the body

A study has found that Botox can travel from the injection site to other parts of the body. In the research, which was spearheaded by Edwin Chapman, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, it was proven how the toxin could spread further than the targeted muscle.

“Every time one fraction of the toxin acts locally (on the first nerve cell it contacts), another fraction acts at a distance,” said Chapman to the Daily Mail. “It’s unknown how far they travel, which likely depends on the dose of toxin and other factors.”

If the toxin spreads, it is possible that patients may experience paralysis in other parts of the body.

Is it possible to prevent these long-term side effects?

While the long-term side effects of Botox can be worrying, there are several ways to lessen the risks or prevent them altogether. One way is to make sure that whoever administers the Botox shot is a medical professional. It’s also important to be open with your practitioner about any health problems or medications that you are currently taking. Lastly, seek immediate medical attention if you feel any side effects after getting a Botox shot. Though a headache or dizziness may not seem serious enough to warrant a visit to your doctor, having a checkup may help prevent the onset of long-term side effects that could affect your overall health.

Resources & Further Reading:

1. 2017 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report, Plasticsurgery.org, https://www.plasticsurgery.org/documents/News/Statistics/2017/plastic-surgery-statistics-full-report-2017.pdf

2. There’s a black market for Botox & other things to know before getting injected, TODAY, https://www.today.com/style/botox-dangers-what-know-avoid-I538748

3. Botox: Hollywood’s Most Frozen Faces, Shape Magazine, https://www.shape.com/celebrities/celebrity-photos/botox-hollywoods-most-frozen-faces

4. Botched Horror, The Sun, https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/6782341/towie-beauty-guru-in-worst-case-of-botox-poisoning-ever-seen/

5. Paralyzing toxins in Botox ‘DO spread to other parts of your body’: Landmark study reveals alarming dangers of anti-ageing jabs, The Daily Mail, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3729804/Paralyzing-toxins-Botox-spread-parts-body-Landmark-study-reveals-alarming-dangers-anti-ageing-jabs.html

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