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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Is the Use of Botox Getting Out of Hand?

by Debra Jaliman, MD

I’m known as the Botox doctor in New York, because I was one of the first to start using it twenty years ago. Obviously, I have nothing against Botox — when properly administered. Neither do my patients, who are so happy with their results they come back regularly to maintain their improved appearance.

But lately I’ve begun to wonder if we’ve gone too far in our obsession with Botox. A few weeks ago, I was interviewed for an article on Botox parties, which apparently are becoming the rage in gyms and people’s homes.

Let me be really clear here: Botox shots make you look better, but they are not just a beauty treatment –  they are a medical procedure. And medical procedures should be taken seriously and done in a doctor’s office, under surgical light, after taking a complete medical history, and with access to emergency care. Allergic reactions to Botox are rare, but they do happen, and more people than you’d think faint after getting shots — any kind of shots. Before the procedure, the face has to be cleaned carefully, due to the real risk of infection. Somehow I doubt that at a party or at a gym, proper sterile precautions are observed.

Another important point: if it’s the kind of Botox party where drinks are served, anybody getting shots is in for trouble. Alcohol thins the blood and increases the risk of bleeding and bruising. Usually, to do Botox correctly, the patient is injected with 10 to 15 shots, each administering tiny amounts. Think of what people will look like if they get a bruise at each injection site. And by the way, any doctor or nurse who just dumps Botox in one shot is not doing the job right, because the odds are that the patient will be left with a stiff, unnatural appearance … for the next few months.

I see the victims of these Botox parties frequently, because they come to me to repair the damage. They have no medical records showing how much Botox they received or where it was placed, something any responsible dermatologist would do, which makes it harder (although not impossible) to fix the uneven results. All I can say is, people who go to Botox parties are going to end up with more than they bargained for; not only will they have pay for the injections at the party, they will also have to pay for the subsequent visit to a dermatologist to fix the damage.

But it wasn’t just Botox parties that made me reflect on our excessive dependence on Botox. Some of you may have seen the episode of Good Morning America last month where a San Francisco mother confessed to injecting her eight-year-old daughter’s face so she would look “better” for a little girls’ beauty pageant. I have to admit, I gasped in disbelief when I heard about this. I won’t go into my opinion (low) of children’s beauty pageants, but suffice to say that no child should EVER be subjected to Botox injections for cosmetic purposes (some do get it for serious medical reasons, like cerebral palsy or muscle disorders).  The mother recanted her story when she temporarily lost custody of her daughter, but it’s still a disturbing episode. And who knows if it’s true or not — it’s a very murky story.

Posted by: WebMD Blogs at 12:30 pm

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