Is Botox Poisonous?

Is that true?  Does that make Botox dangerous to use?

Doctor Answers 25

Botox is technically a purified protein of botulinum...

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Botox is technically a purified protein of botulinum toxin. There are reports of botulism type symptoms after large doses of Botox for certain spasm conditions, some requiring hospitalization. There have not been any reports, though, of this happening with Botox Cosmetic in applications for cosmetic purposes such as facial wrinkles.

Botox Cosmetic is the most common cosmetic procedure. It is safe and effective if used properly and with the formulation from Allergan corporation.

Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon

Botox is extremely safe.

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Botox is most certainly not poisonous.  It has been shown to be completely safe in millions of patients.  The dose we use for cosmetic improvement is very, very tiny compared to the possibly dangerous dose.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

Botox is a Toxin but so are many other useful medications.

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Just a few examples of "useful" poisons:

  • Saffron in one of the most expensive spices in the world derived from the crocus flower which if taken in excess is a poison;
  • Purple foxglove is a poison that is used as a heart medication (digitalis);
  • Curare is used on poison darts to paralyze people but also used to relax muscles during anesthesia;
  • Willow bark is the precursor to Aspirin which can cause fatal bleeding but is also useful for preventing or minimizing the effects of heart attacks.

Botox is derived from the bacterial toxin that causes botulism. When used properly and in the correct doses by an experienced injector, Botox is a very safe drug that is probably safer than aspirin

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

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Botox is very safe and effective

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Botox is very, very safe! It is toxin (poison) derived from bacteria. Botox has been sterilized and diluted so that it is safe for treatment of wrinkles and facial lines. The way to look at this is that all medications are potentially dangerous if not taken properly.

Thanks for your question.

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon

Do no harm!

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The hippocratic oath that doctors swear by states, "do no harm!" So, why are we injecting poisonous Botox into people on a daily basis?! The simple answer is that while yes, Botox is indeed a poison, at the tiny dosage that is injected for Botox Cosmetic purposes it is quite safe. At the wrong dosage, the poisonous material could lead to disaster. Botox is used by thousands of patients daily in America and nationally is the most common cosmetic procedure performed. Allergan, the company that manufactures Botox Cosmetic goes to great lengths to make sure that the dosage is safe and predictable. Horror stories on the internet usually stem from fake Botox or counterfeits. If you have any doubt about what you are buying, you can always ask to see the vial of Botox, which should have a miniature Botox hologram and be clearly labeled as Allergan Botox Cosmetic. To find a physician you can always go to the Botox website to find a physician in your area! Good luck!

Evan Sorokin, MD
Cherry Hill Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Botox as a poison

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Well the answer is yes and no! Yes, Botox is a toxin derived from a bacteria, but only in very large quantities. Medical applications of Botox use very low concentrations that are diluted.

Botox is used for both medical conditions like for spastic eyelids as well as for cosmetic treatments. At the doses that are used for cosmetic therapy, Botox is very safe.

Rady Rahban, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 142 reviews

Not any more than aspirin, tylenol, decongestants and...

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Not any more than aspirin, tylenol, decongestants and many other over-the-counter medications are toxic and could be even fatal if taken in an excessive amount.

Botulinum toxin, or Botox Cosmetic, inhibits the muscle movement to make skin lines diminish. The amount of units used for this purpose is extremely small and not anywhere close to the toxic level.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

I respect the opinions of the surgeons that have...

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I respect the opinions of the surgeons that have answered this question.

From a purely scientific point of view, Botox is just a small component of the complex protein that is Botulinum toxin. This neurotoxin is probably one of the most potent toxins in the biologic world. Of course, Allergan (and other companies that will soon release a similar but longer-lasting product) takes great efforts to assure that Botox is safe.

If you are considering Botox therapy, schedule a consultation with a plastic surgeon trained to use the product, and make sure the product that is being used is actually Botox. There have been recent reports in the media describing the use of 'copy cat' neurotoxins for cosmetic use with disastrous results.

Most Kindly,
Scott C. Sattler MD FACS

Botox Is Safe, Effective and Has Almost 30 Years of Proof

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Botox has been used medically since 1989.  Botox Cosmetic has been used to smooth out existing wrinkles and prevent new ones since 2002. I began using it in my practice in 1995. It is very safe and very effective. 

Botox has been FDA-approved for a variety of indications, including controlling hyperhydrosis (excessive sweating), TMJ and migraines, as well as for slimming the masseter muscle and preventing a gummy smile. While the active ingredient in Botox is botulinum toxin, only a minute amount is used. Please consult a board-certified dermatologist who has expertise in using this highly effective treatment. 

Melda A. Isaac, MD
Washington DC Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Botox Is Safe

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No, Botox is not poisonous. It has been used safely for decades for cosmetic purposes. Botox is made from a purified version of botunlinum toxin, which if ingested in large amounts in an unpurified state could be poisonous, just as the arsenic found in almonds is. The amount of botulinim toxin used in Botox is minuscule. All it will do is relax dynamic muscles that cause wrinkles, allowing the skin to smooth out and look rejuvenated. It can also be used to control a gummy smile, slim the jawline, control excessive sweating, and manage migraines. I hope this helps.

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.