Are There Reported Deaths of People Who've Gotten Botox for Cosmetic Purposes?

Some of the fine print in literature about Botox injections can be pretty scary. Hello, death?Anyone who has received Botox for cosmetic reasons has died, or has this only happened in people who've used larger, off-label doses of Botox?

Doctor Answers 12

Botox cosmetic from Allergan has a proven high safety record

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There have been cases in which providers have used non FDA approved botulinum toxin with serious complications. I am not aware of fatalities from cosmetic uses of Allergan Botox Cosmetic or Dysport from Medicis.

Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Botox deaths

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As the others have mentioned, botox for cosmetic use is very safe. I've never heard of a death from it's use in standard cosmetic doses. The news stories about serious consequences of botox injection have been due to the use of much higher doses than normal or the use of non-FDA approved forms of the drug.

Death by Botox? Never heard of it.

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I am unaware of Botox Cosmetic being the cause of death or even anything more serious that some untintended or asymmetrical weakness near the area of injection.  The dose is really, really small and really, really targeted.  Jillions and jillions of injections have been done and the safety margin of Botox is really, really, really high. 

Dr. Prendiville mentions in his answer a case of a doctor injecting some form of botulinum toxin not meant for human use and getting himself and some friends some time on ventilators. 

Remember, you get what you pay for in this field of medicine.  I get offers from time to time for "Botox" really cheap from off shore distributors.  Make sure your plastic surgeon does not succumb to such temptations for making a quick buck. 


Deaths with Botox Cosmetic?

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I am unaware of any deaths associated with Botox cosmetic, Dysport, or Xeomin (all form of Botulinum toxin type A used for cosmetic purposes), all of which are utilized in controlled, safe therapeutic doses.  A number of years ago, a Physician on the East coast of Florida injected a form of research grade Botulinum toxin type A (not Botox) into his own face in addition to several of his friends.  This misadventure landed the whole party in the ICU on ventilators.  It is believed that each individual received tens of thousands of units, inducing clinical botulism.  The average dose of Botox is about 20-60 units, which is very safe.  Having performed this procedure thousands of times, I have never seen any serious complications.

Death after botox

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First, you should understand that Allergan (the company that makes the stuff) distinguishes between Botox Cosmetic, which we use for facial wrinkles, and Botox which is used for functional issues like hyperhydrosis, torticollis, headaches, cerebral palsy spasm, and a hole host of other sites.  Botox Cosmetic has not had any deaths.  I am personally aware of only three times that significant problems hit the news cycle concerning Botox Cosmetic, and in each case, the practitioner got the medication from some bogus source.  Each of those events also prompted an internal review of  Allergan and their track record, and each time they came out without involvement or product danger.   The drug continued with a clean record.

An interesting study just hit the news as well, which found that botox might exert some influence in muscles distant from the injection.  But the truth is, the study was done in lab animals and may not translate to humans at all, and was found only to change a test behavior of the distant muscle without actually influencing it's overall function.  In other words, much ado about nothing.  

Botox is as safe of a drug as you can find right now.

Botox Safety

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No one has ever died, or for that matter suffered anything more than a temporary nuisance side affect from Botox Cosmetic.  By a huge margin, the most dangerous part of getting Botox is the drive to the doctors office.

Risks of Botox

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Botox and other FDA-approved alternatives (Dysport or Xeomin) are extraordinarily safe.   I am not aware of a single death from use of Botox for cosmetic purposes.  There have been a few cases of rogue doctors using fake Botox from China and elsewhere who got into trouble and actually gave botulinism to their patients because they injected uncontrolled amounts of toxin.   In those cases, they did not use Botox.    That is why you should only go to a reputable dermatologist or plastic surgeon for your treatment.

Botox Cosmetic Safety Record

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As the panel member indicated, there are no reported cases of deaths related to the use of Botox Cosmetic.  For medicinal use wherein adverse outcomes or an allegation that death was related to the use of medicinal Botox, the factors involved were high doses of product for therapeutic benefits wherein risks vs. benefits were considered, and patients had co-existing medical conditions that attributed to poor health or immunocompromised systems.

On a side note, the safety issue is imperative when consumers are tempted to seek out services based upon the cheapest price available.  Always make certain that the product comes directly from the manufacturer (Allergan) and that treatments are always administered by a licensed Registered Nurse, Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistance, Medical Doctor.



Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Are There Reported Deaths of People Who've Gotten Botox for Cosmetic Purposes?

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  Not that I am aware of but it's best to send an e-mail to the Botox Cosmetic general info site to ask this question.  IMHO, the real risk of complication with Botox and other aesthetic medical treatments and surgeries is the MD not understanding and following the proper aesthetics of facial beauty.  

Botox Cosmetic is very safe

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You are right about the wording in the "Medication Guide" that the FDA requires for Botox but below the list of serious possible reactions it also states that none of this has ever happened with Botox Cosmetic. To quote: "There has not been a confirmed case of of spread of toxin effect away from the injection site when BOTOX has been used at the recommended dose to treat severe underarm sweating, blepharospasm, or strabismus, or when BOTOX Cosmetic has been used at the recommended dose to treat frown lines." Serious reactions are generally limited to very large doses in other parts of the body.

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.