The Dangers of Black Market Botox®

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Published on May 5, 2019 By: WIFH Staff

When you think about knock off products sold on “the black market,” names like Louis Vuitton, Air Jordan and Nike probably come to mind. One product you hope to never see, or even fathom its existence on the black market is Botox®. Shocking, right?

Botox by AllerganSo sadly if you’re one of the millions of men and women that use Botox® to get rid of, soften or even prevent lines on your face, beware there are imposters out there!

Botox® is consistently the #1 aesthetic procedure in the world and the cost varies greatly depending on where you live and what facility you go to for your treatments. Beauty comes at a price of course, but you should never compromise your health and safety for a great deal. As they say, if it’s too good to be true it probably is.

You can find medical offices, clinics and spas on every street corner offering and injecting Botox®, it’s the Starbucks of the beauty world. This type of marketplace breeds competition and it comes down to price. Seriously, look in your email box, I’ll bet you can find a deal on some cheap Botox®…but is it really Botox®?

Ok, for the Botox® virgins out there. Botox® Cosmetic is made by Allergan a well known pharmaceutical company. It’s used on the face, typically the forehead, between the eyes and the crows feet to relax the facial muscles, thus relaxing away the wrinkles. Don’t be fooled it doesn’t freeze your face (I guess it could if you injected way too much, then yes, you could get that frozen look, but some people like that). Botox® is a purified protein derived from a botulinum bacterium, it is not live botulism like many think, so you aren’t injecting live poison into your body. The results typically last 3-4 months and the average cost for Botox® Cosmetic ranges from $8/unit to $14/unit depending on where you go.

Black Market Botox® isn’t new, there was an article published in People magazine back in 2004, but the numbers are growing. This article sites a clinic in Florida that injected knock-off Botox® and caused four patients to become deathly ill. This is just one such incident, the occurrence is shockingly widespread. The problem with this stuff is that you don’t really know what it is you’re injecting and where it came from.

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Are You Getting Legitimate Botox?

Here are some tips to know you’re getting Real Deal Botox® Cosmetic:

  • Botox® Cosmetic is delivered from Allergan on dry ice. The vial is sealed and must be reconstituted before injecting. This means that Botox® comes in the vial in the form of a powder and then sterile saline/water is added to make it a liquid. Each vial contains 100 units, which equates to 4 doses at Allergan’s recommendation of 25-units per area.
  • Ask to see the vial, before they inject you. You can even request that they draw the Botox® up in front of you. I mention this because some facilities are keeping some legitimate Botox® around in case they are investigated. By having them draw it up in front of you, you can see for yourself what they are injecting. If it is real Botox® it will have a hologram image that reads Allergan.
  • Visit Allergan’s website to find a doctor in your area that administers Botox®.
  • Visit your state’s medical board website and look up the doctor you are considering.
  • If the facility you visit participates in the Brilliant Distinctions program they are more likely to use legitimate Botox® Cosmetic. Brilliant Distinctions is similar to a frequent flyer program, it’s run by Allergan. Each time you come for a treatment the office (if they participate) will enter your visit into Allergan’s online physician portal. In order to do this, they have to enter the lot number from the Botox® vial that was used for your treatment. This program allows Botox® and Juvederm® users to accrue points, which they can redeem for vouchers/coupons towards their next Botox® or Juvederm® injection.
  • If you suspect a doctor or facility is not using authentic Botox® Cosmetic you can report it to the FDA office of Criminal Investigations by calling 1-800-551-3989 or visiting the FDA website.

You deserve to look young and beautiful, just be safe.

Regan Kudlata, RN, MSN, FNP-C

Sarah Richardson is WIFH’s Lead Medical Aesthetician and manages the skincare side of our practice. She is also an Assistant Cosmetic Laser Practitioner licensed by the Georgia Medical Composite Board. With over 16 years of skin care experience, Sarah specializes in creating customized treatment plans to address our patients’ individualized needs. Through a combination of clinical facials and aesthetic procedures, as well as scientifically effective skin care products, Sarah helps patients achieve a healthy, radiant, and glowing complexion. She is truly passionate about what she does and loves to educate others who are looking to improve their skin’s health.