- Buying Botox without a prescription is not only ill advised but also illegal.
- You never know what you’re getting when you purchase Botox online.
- Injecting Botox requires more skill than you’d think.
In 2009, Wired wrote an exposé about a now defunct company called Discount Medspa, which sold a variety of prescription-only treatments, including Dysport and Xeomin, two Botox competitors made from the same botulinum toxin.
Discount Medspa’s proprietor, Laura D’Alleva, claimed to have permission from the Texas Medical Council to sell the wrinkle defying substance. She even went so far as to post videos in which she showed customers how to self-inject, crowning herself the Botox Queen in her YouTube handle.
By many accounts, she and her company seemed legitimate. So why did the Feds shut her down shortly after the article was published? Because the Texas Medical Council doesn’t exist, leaving D’Alleva without the proper authority to sell Botox or anything like it.
Of course, Discount Medspa was just one among hundreds of companies that fudged credibility and sold questionable products to the public. Many of these companies still exist and Botox, or something claiming to be Botox, is easier to find than you might think.
However, there’s an important lesson to be taken away from Discount Medspa’s downfall. Companies can look legitimate and claim all sorts of credentials, but that doesn’t make any of it true. If you’re thinking about buying Botox instead of going to a clinic, it’s time to reconsider.
Botox and Its Benefits
When properly administered, Botox injections are perfectly safe. A Botox treatment completed by a trained medical professional, like a plastic surgeon, is rightly considered to be very low-risk, and injections offer both cosmetic and medical benefits.
If you’re considering administering Botox at home, you’re probably mainly concerned with the treatment’s age-defying properties. Botox essentially relaxes targeted muscles in the face to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. The treatment focuses on expression lines, like frown lines and crow’s feet, as opposed to the deep wrinkles that accompany aging.
The treatment may sound harmless enough, but this is no face cream. Botox and the aforementioned Dysport and Xeomin are made from Clostridium botulinum, the same bacterium that causes botulism. This rare and deadly food poisoning can result in severe muscle weakness and even paralysis.
Of course, when mixed and administered in the correct dose, there’s absolutely no cause for concern. But this isn’t something to play around with. In short, Botox has many benefits and is, for the most part, quite safe. But ask yourself this: do you really want to be self-injecting a substance of this nature?
» If you’re interested in getting Botox and want to learn more about its benefits, take a look at the Botox reviews on our forum for some first-hand patient experiences.
Botox at Home
If Botox is such a big deal, then why do people attempt it at home? It largely comes down to money. Despite the seeming simplicity of the treatment, Botox isn’t cheap.
Depending on the physician in question, a single unit of Botox will run you anywhere from $7 to $20. Note that a unit is not the same as an injection. You’re liable to get as many as 20 units for a simple forehead treatment, and almost as many for wrinkles around the eyes (crow’s feet). Therefore, if you’re looking to treat more than one area, you could be paying anywhere from $300 to $800.
Now consider the fact that the longevity of the results is measured in months, not years. Within three to four months, you could easily be back at your provider’s office discussing another treatment. Many people simply can’t afford to shell out that much money so frequently.
While money is a huge motivating factor, some people seek to self-administer Botox because they can’t get their physician to agree to what they want. For reasons that may be general or specific to a patient, physicians may refuse to inject Botox in certain sites or in certain quantities, inspiring some patients to try and take matters into their own hands.
Whatever your reasons, they are definitely not worth the risk of self-administering Botox at home. There is no safe way to give yourself Botox. You can’t trust what you’re buying, and even if you could, no amount of YouTube-ing will ever adequately teach you the skills you need to inject it.
If you take only one thing away from this article, let it be this: Botox is a prescription only product in the United States. In other words, there is no way to legally obtain Botox without a prescription from a licensed medical professional. And trust us, your local physician will not be sending you home with any.
Despite this fact, you can purchase products online claiming to be Botox. Some of them might actually even be Botox. The problem is that you have no way of knowing whose claims are true and whose aren’t. After all, they are all operating outside of FDA regulations, so they don’t adhere to any of the FDA’s rules or safety standards.
Remember the cautionary tale of Discount Medspa. Companies that are already breaking the rules have no incentive not to lie to you. For example, these products may not list their ingredients. Even if they do, those ingredients may or may not be accurate. These companies may also claim legitimacy, including that their products are FDA-approved. You can be sure that they are not.
When we say you can’t know what you’re getting when you buy Botox online, we seriously mean it. Safety in Beauty, a campaign dedicated to promoting safe beauty practices, railed against at-home Botox treatments. They noted from first-hand reports and their own research that products claiming to be Botox were often anything but. Rather, many contained industrial products, paraffin, and even hair gel.
I’m sure we don’t need to tell you how dangerous it is to inject unknown substances into your face. Severe complications can occur, including dangerous allergic reactions, embolism, and skin necrosis. What’s more, your physician will be hard put to treat you if he or she has no idea what you put in your skin.
Poorly Prepared Products
Let’s assume that you somehow manage to get your hands on legitimate Botox. Here’s the rub: not all Botox is the same. Botox must be mixed according to specific standards, diluting the toxin. If the resulting substance that gets injected into your skin has too little botulinum toxin, it won’t be effective. If it has too much, it could be life-threatening.
Professionals who are trained in administering Botox are also trained in properly mixing it. However, if you purchase Botox for self-injection, it’s probably not going to be professionally mixed. In fact, most products claiming to be Botox that are sold to consumers require said consumers to mix the substance themselves.
You may feel confident that you can bust out your high school math and get the job done, but how comfortable are you really when the downside to bad math could be fatal?
If that’s not enough, there’s also the question of sterility. Botox must be prepared in a sterile environment using sterile equipment. You can be sure that a medical professional using legitimate Botox knows how to do this. If you think you can just get some soap and water and manage the same thing, think again.
True sterilization requires boiling water, rubbing alcohol (or something like it), gloves, and a lot of care. If not done properly, your risk of infection will increase exponentially.
Your injection skills, or lack thereof, are also a concern. Once again, let’s assume that you acquired real Botox and even managed to get it mixed correctly. You’re not out of the woods yet. Injecting Botox into your skin is not as simple as inserting a Botox needle and expelling its contents.
First, you need to know where to inject the substance. The answer is not to point the needle at the fine lines. After all, you’re relaxing muscles, not filling in wrinkles. Injecting Botox requires an understanding of facial muscles. You need to know which muscles should be relaxed for the desired results and where to target them. Second, you need to know how deeply to insert the needle and how much of the mixed substance you should apply in any given location.
Incorrect injection practices can lead to a host of complications, including eyelid drooping (ptosis), excessive swelling, excessive bruising, and a greater risk of infection. In fact, the infection may become so severe that it becomes a staph infection, an infection that spreads throughout the body and causes a variety of diseases. In any case, recovery will be longer and the results may not be what you intended.
Medical professionals might make Botox injections look easy. But you would too if you were trained and practiced in them. The truth is Botox is far more of an exact science that it appears. There’s a reason why the FDA requires it to be administered by professionals, and it’s not because the FDA wants to help cosmetic surgeons make more money.
» If you want to learn more about the dangers of DIY Botox injections, ask a doctor on our forum for their professional opinion.
Accountability Is Key
Put simply, products that operate outside of FDA regulations are not accountable to those regulations. There’s no way to be certain what you’re buying, how it’s prepared, or whether your chosen injection sites are accurate.
Sure, you can watch a plethora of YouTube videos, which promise to show you the right way to inject. But even this should give you pause. After all, if it were something you could learn from a YouTube video, why would medical professionals require formal training to learn the same thing?
At the end of the day, the level of expertise you need simply cannot be absorbed from someone’s streaming channel, no matter how badly you want to save money.
» If you’re serious about getting Botox injections, use our directory to find a cosmetic doctor near you and get the treatment done professionally.
- Avoid at all cost (no matter how cheap): do-it-yourself Botox. (2011, October 04). surgery.org/consumers/plastic-surgery-news-briefs/avoid-cost-no-matter-cheap–do-it-yourself-botox-1035624
- Botox | Botulinum Toxin | Botox Injections | MedlinePlus. (n.d.). medlineplus.gov/botox.html
- Botox Label [Pamphlet]. (2011). Irvine, CA: Allergan, Inc. accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/103000s5232lbl.pdf