Botox: An Overview
Botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum sold commercially under the brand name Botox. Botox has been FDA approved to be used in very small doses both to treat painful muscle spasms and as a cosmetic treatment. It is used in the treatment of migraine headaches, blepharospasm, cervical dystonia, and many other medical issues. Since 2006, Botox has been the most commonly used cosmetic treatment in the United States.
Are Botox injections dangerous?
Contrary to what many people think, Botox injections are not nearly as simple as they seem. Repeated complaints from patients regarding serious side effects including partial paralysis, aspiration pneumonia, and even death in some cases have prompted advocacy groups to request that the FDA begin the process of regulating this product more closely.
It is believed that in rare cases botulinum toxin spreads away from the injection site. This spreading results in problems such as paralysis of the respiratory muscles and difficulty swallowing. Sadly, the most severe side effects were reported in children with cerebral palsy being treated for limb spasms.
FDA ‘Black Box’ Warning on Botox
In August 2009, the FDA updated its safety alert to include a ‘Black Box’ Warning – the administration’s most severe warning – on Botox. All Botox product labels must now warn that the effects of the botulinum toxin may spread from the area of injection to other areas of the body, causing symptoms similar to those of botulism. Those symptoms include potentially life-threatening swallowing and breathing difficulties and even death.