Is Botox safe for my skin?

Botox injections are an increasingly common treatment for wrinkles -- but are they safe? See more getting beautiful skin pictures.
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A decade ago, few people would readily allow someone to inject a paralyzing toxin into their skin. But these days, everyone from music mogul Simon Cowell to actress Courtney Cox has admitted to using Botox, a drug made from botulinum toxin that can smooth wrinkles [source: Davis, US]. If Botox is toxic, can it really be safe for your skin?

First, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Botox for use in treating a number of conditions, from frown lines to severe sweating. That means it's been through tests that prove that it is reasonably safe when used correctly. But Botox can still have some very dangerous side effects. Its job is to paralyze muscles, so it can be deadly if it spreads beyond its intended area -- such as to the muscles that control swallowing or breathing. Because of this, starting in April 2009, the FDA required Botox to carry a more severe warning label [source: Singer].


Like all drugs, Botox can also have less severe side effects. There is the possibility of an allergic reaction or other irritations to the skin as a result of an injection. Other common side effects include bruising, swelling and unevenness at the injection site, which are normally temporary [source: Storrs].

Botox can also be used in higher doses for muscle spasms and other issues. In those cases, the higher doses can lead to the potential for more side effects. As such, Botox should only be used at the lowest required dose. In general, the lower the dose, the safer the process is [source: Storrs]. In addition, too many Botox treatments in too short a time can be dangerous -- its effects, though, generally last about four months [source: UIC].

If you're interested in using Botox, talk with your doctor and use a licensed medical professional that you feel comfortable with, starting at a low dose. To learn more, visit the links on the next page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Davis, Caris. "Simon Cowell Admits to Using Botox." People Magazine. 3/3/08. (Accessed 7/10/09),,20181478,00.html
  • Friedman, Emily. "Is Botox Safe During Pregnancy?" ABC News. 1/10/08. (Accessed 7/10/09)
  • Repinski, Karyn. "Is Botox Safe?" Prevention Magazine. 2007. (Accessed 7/10/09)
  • Singer, Natasha. "FDA Orders Warning Label for Botox." The New York Times. 4/30/09. (Accessed 7/10/09)
  • Storrs, Carina. "How Safe is Botox?" Scienceline. 1/5/09. (Accessed 7/10/09)
  • US magazine. "Courtney Cox: I've Had Botox - and 'I Hated It!'" 10/8/08. (Accessed 7/10/09)
  • University of Illinois, Chicago. "Botox Frequently Asked Questions." (Accessed 7/30/2009)