Botulinum toxin is made from a type of bacteria. It is a toxin that affects nerves. An injection puts this toxin into muscle. There, it blocks the release of the chemical signal from the nerves to muscles. This will decrease the muscle contraction.
Botulinum toxin is used for cosmetic and medical reasons.
The injection process is often called
botox injection, although any brand of the botulinum toxin may be used.
Complications are rare. When they occur, they are often temporary and mild. Side effects are related to the site of injection. For example, if injections take place near the eyes, there may be complications with the eyelids or brow line.
Temporary issues may include:
Stinging around the injection sites
The following are less common reactions. They are generally mild and do not last long.
Excessive weakness of the muscle around the eyes—can cause drooping of the eyelids or obstruction of vision
Difficulty swallowing—can occur in people receiving injections in their neck
Compensatory hyperhidrosis—people being treated for hyperhidrosis may develop increased sweat production at another area of the body
Excessive weakness or wasting in certain muscles—the injection may slow any improvement in the muscle
Neck weakness in people with long, thin necks
Risk of the botulinum toxin spreading beyond the injection area—may cause botulism symptoms, including difficulty breathing and death in severe cases. Children with
may be at a higher risk for this side effect.
This procedure may worsen nerve or muscle disorders, such as:
Allergan physician production information. Botox cosmetic (botulinum toxin type A). Available at: http://www.allergan.com/miscellaneous-pages/allergan-pdf-files/ehs-botox. Updated April 2, 2015. Accessed February 21, 2018.
Ondo WG, Gollomp S, Galvez-Jimenez N. A pilot study of botulinum toxin A for headache in cervical dystonia. Headache. 2005;45(8):1073-1077.
Ward A, Roberts G, Warner J, et al. Cost-effectiveness of botulinum toxin type A in the treatment of post-stroke spasticity. J Rehabil Med. 2005;37(4):252-257.
11/4/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttps://www.dynamed.com: FDA gives update on botulinum toxin safety warnings. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm175013.htm. Updated April 17, 2013. Accessed February 12, 2016.
3/19/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttps://www.dynamed.com: FDA approves Botox to treat spasticity in flexor muscles of the elbow, wrist and fingers. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm203776.htm. Updated April 24, 2013. Accessed February 12, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 2/12/2016
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