Fake Botox is sending people to the hospital. Here’s what you need to know

May 16, 2024, 7:35 PM | Updated: 7:41 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Millions of Americans get Botox every year, but as counterfeit versions are circulating, doctors are urging Utahns to be cautious.

As of Thursday, 15 people from nine states have reported harmful reactions after receiving injections from unlicensed or untrained providers or in non-healthcare settings, such as homes or spas. While no deaths have been reported, 11 of those individuals had to be hospitalized.

“There are a lot of practitioners out there who are doing some of these kinds of procedures without necessarily having the appropriate training,” said Dr. Kian Eftekhari, a board-certified surgeon with the Eyelid Center of Utah.

According to Eftekhari, when administered appropriately, Botox is safe, but in the wrong hands or the wrong setting, serious side effects can occur.

“When you have poisoning from Botox, it can actually weaken other muscles around your body,” he said. “That can be really problematic because sometimes it affects the muscles that help you breathe.”

Eftekhari showing some of the most commonly injected areas.

Eftekhari showing some of the most commonly injected areas. (Courtesy: Eyelid Center of Utah)

Patients who received the counterfeit product also reported experiencing blurry or double vision, drooping eyelids, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, and fatigue.

So, how can you ensure your safety when considering Botox? Eftekhari emphasized the importance of finding a licensed provider in a healthcare setting.

“I think people have a tendency to think that Botox is not a big deal because it’s so common,” he said. “But it is a medication, and it does need to be used carefully.”

Make sure you are receiving the FDA-approved Botox. Eftekhari said a typical Botox box will say “Botox Cosmetic,” have a pink or purple top, and is made by Allergan.

Counterfeit products may display wrong ingredients, indicate inaccurate dosing, or contain writing not in English. The FDA released images as examples of counterfeit Botox.

A counterfeit package of Botox.

A counterfeit package of Botox. (FDA)

If you have concerns, Eftekhari said it’s completely appropriate to ask your injector if you can look at the box or vial they are using.

“It’s not that Botox itself is unsafe, but if you’re not getting the actual medication, that’s a whole different story,” he said.

You can find licensed Botox providers near you on the official Botox website.

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Fake Botox is sending people to the hospital. Here’s what you need to know