There have been recent news stories in Tampa about the use of illegal or fake Botox being injected at a variety of salons, offices and parties.  So our readers have asked for more information on how to determine if their Botox injections contain the real drug or a fake.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, over 5.5 million people were injected with Botox last year, making it the most popular cosmetic treatment in America.  At an average cost ranging from $300 to $600 per treatment, not everyone can afford Botox injections.  This leaves the door open for swindlers looking to take advantage of those seeking a low cost beauty treatment.

What is real Botox?

There is only one company (Allergan) that can produce and distribute Botox Cosmetic in the United States.  Botox Cosmetic is also known under chemical name OnabotulinumtoxinA and is produced from the botulinum toxin which will freeze or paralyze facial muscles to reduce wrinkles.  All Botox produced by Allergan is distributed in secure packaging and all the bottles have a 3D hologram on the label.  However, sophisticated knock offs have been produced that mimic the packaging so closely that a lay person would not be able to tell the difference just by viewing the labels.

While there are other botulinum toxin products that are on the market that are somewhat similar to Botox, they are not generally the source of stories about “fake Botox” that appear in the news.  These alternatives are Dysport and Xeomin and both of these injectables are produced by reputable pharmaceutical companies.   Highly regarded physicians often use these products in their office to reduce wrinkles and will advertise them under the correct name brand and not misrepresent them as Botox.

How to avoid getting “fake” Botox?

The best way to avoid being injected with “fake” Botox is to work only with a board-certified plastic surgeon (or dermatologist, ophthalmologist or otolaryngologist) in an accredited medical facility.  A respectable physician who has been working in an established practice for a number of years cannot afford to give you anything but the best, or they risk losing both their license and their reputation.   You can ask the practitioner to show you the packaging and unopened bottle if it makes you feel more secure but if you have selected the right provider then you will get the real Botox.

The danger of getting a substitute product or diluted version of Botox is more likely to happen in non-medical settings.  Choosing to get Botox injections at a mall kiosk, a hair salon, a beauty spa or at a home party is risky and should be avoided entirely.  Even on the unlikely chance that the mall kiosk has real Botox, the likelihood of the person being a skilled injector is slim.  Even real Botox injected in the wrong amount of in the wrong location can be dangerous and life threatening.

Side effects of Botox

Too much Botox can paralyze the wrong muscles and make it difficult to swallow or to breathe which can lead to a life threatening condition.  It can also cause muscle weakness, drooping eyelids, as well as blurred or double vision.  So it is best to always work with a medical practice staffed with highly experienced personnel and in an accredited office that has the equipment to deal with an emergency, just in case.

One other caution, if the price is too good to be true, then it is likely that you are not getting real Botox.  Since Allergan has a monopoly on the Botox market, they control the pricing and do not offer discounts on their best selling product.  If you see Botox advertised at a very low price, be skeptical.  Beware of any discounts offered by non-medical offices.

Botox is an excellent product to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and even help prevent wrinkles while the drug is active.  While it offers a temporary solution, the results will often last for 4 to 6 months at a time to provide a younger look.  Before starting Botox treatments, do your research and seek a board-certified physician that has years of experience with injectable products.  Ask for referrals and call them!  Also take a look at before and after pictures before making the final decision on which physician you trust with your face.

If you would like to learn more about the Botox Cosmetic and other injectable products, please contact Elite Facial Plastic Surgery in Tampa Florida.  Dr. Dominic Castellano is a highly respected, board-certified facial plastic surgeon with over 20 years of experience.  Elite Facial Plastic Surgery is a fully accredited medical facility and the highly qualified medical team specializes in facial cosmetic surgery and injectable products.   Call (813) 975-3223 today to schedule your complimentary visit or go to our website for more information.

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