Botulinum toxin is made from a type of bacteria that affects nerves. An injection puts this toxin into muscle. This decreases muscle contractions for up to 4 months or longer with repeat use.
Botulinum toxin is used for cosmetic and medical reasons. The injection process is often called a Botox injection, but any brand may be used.
The injection is approved by the FDA to treat:
Some other problems it has been used to treat are:
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Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Most problems do not last long, such as side effects related to the site of the injection. Your doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
It is also possible for the toxin to spread past the injection site. This could cause problems breathing and may be deadly. The risk may be higher in children with cerebral palsy.
Before the injection, talk to the doctor about ways to manage things that may raise the risk of problems, such as:
The toxin can also interact with some medicines, such as antibiotics. Tell your doctor about the medicines that you are taking.
Anesthesia is not needed. Some people may choose to have the area numbed with ice or a topical anesthetic.
A thin needle will be used. The toxin will be injected through the skin into the muscle. More than one injection may be needed.
Remain upright after the procedure. Do not rub the injection site.
The time needed will depend on the site and reason for the injection. It is often less than 20 minutes.
There will be discomfort at the injection site.
Normal activities may be resumed.
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Society for Dermatologic Surgery
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Canadian Dermatology Association
Allergan physician production information. Botox cosmetic (botulinum toxin type A). Available at: https://www.allergan.com/products/botox-cns. Accessed April 3, 2020.
Botulinum toxin injections: a treatment for muscle spasms. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/botulinum-toxin-injections-a-treatment-for-muscle-spasms. Updated January 24, 2018. Accessed April 3, 2020.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD