How Does Botox Dissipate Inside Our Body?

I believed that Botox is toxic. How does our body dispose it.?Does it affect our organ such as liver and kidney?

Doctor Answers 6

Botox travels through the body

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Dr. Chen has provided a concise review. I would also add that in addition to traveling through the bloodstream, a recent animal study showed that Botox can travel backwards through the nerve to the Central Nervous System. The effect and consequences of this were unknown. 

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Botox and toxicity

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When Botox is injected into the skin, it may migrate up to 3 cm from where it was injected. Even if some molecules were to go into the bloodstream and travel to distant sites in the body, the cosmetic doses (typically less than 100 units) used are significantly lower than the toxic dose that would be harmful systemically (2500-3000 units. Once the protein stops functioning at the neuromuscular junction, it is broken down into its harmless break-down components (amino acids) and either recycled for use in other proteins or excreted by the kidneys. I am not aware of any reports of liver or kidney toxicity with Botox.

Bryan K. Chen, MD
San Diego Dermatologist

Botox very safe in doses used clinically

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You are right that Botox, (generically called Botulunum toxin type A) is in theory harmful because it is the same thing that causes botulism poisoning. However, it would take many many times the doses used in practice to do any harm, and I can think of few things that have a better safety record than Botox, which has been in clinical use for 20 years on millions of patients.

To be more specific, the molecule is a protein which is fairly rapidly broken down before it leaves the area into which it is injected.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

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An Excellent Question!

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Botox is the most toxic substance known to man. Therefore, only very small amounts are necessary for therapeutic effects. The toxin is a protein that prevents the release of a neuromuscular transmitter or the chemical from a nerve that goes to the muscle to tell it to contract.

Because the nerve shuts down but continues to get signals from the brain that the muscle should work it sprouts new nerve endings. These don't have the Botox in them and as they hook up with the muscle the muscle regains function.

The toxin is eventually degraded by proteases and metabolized through normal channels. The is no real evidence that any of the protein enters the bloodstream when injected locally. Its diffusion into the nerves is very rapid.

Botox is not toxic

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As stated, the doses are very small and not considered to be in a "toxic range." We typically use Botox for various non-cosmetic indications and use a much larger dose than when we do lines and wrinkles. In fact, Botox was first used for non-cosmetic reasons for over a hundred years, before being used for cosmetic purposes. It has a remarkable safety profile and as far as I am aware, there are no toxicity concerns for cosmetic use.

The protein is broken down into its components rapidly and then reused or excreted in urine. The breakdown products are actually parts of your normal body molecules and nothing foreign.

Sirish Maddali, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon

The small doses of BOTOX are very well tolerated.

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Dear YNY

The doses of BOTOX injected for cosmetic purposed are extremely small. They have no effect on the liver or kidneys. In fact very little of the BOTOX circulates in the body. This is because the dose used for cosmetic purposes is so small most of it is locally absorbed by the muscle where it is injected.

When BOTOX is used for medical reasons, higher dose are used and these may be associated with systemic effects. However, this dose is orders of magnitude higher than cosmetic BOTOX. Even these products have proven to be very safe.

It is important to be sure that the physician treating you is using a regulated product intended for human use. These products are very carefully tested and monitored for consistently of their dose.

Be aware, bootleg products don't offer this same level of safety. Therefore, only allow yourself to be treated by highly reputable, licensed physicians. It is not worth saving a few dollars when it comes to your safety. Know who is treating you and what they are treating you with.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.