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Posted: Monday, July 13, 2015

How to Spot and Avoid Counterfeit Botox

Who among us hasn’t looked in the mirror and thought about what it would be like to make a change to the person staring back? Whether or not we choose to pursue it, it’s safe to say it has probably crossed our minds at least once in our lives. Each year, thousands of Americans choose to make some changes to their appearance through plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery or Botox injections. There are more than six million Botox injections alone given each year nationwide to treat everything from brow wrinkles and crow’s feet areas to migraines and neck spasms. Earlier this year, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warnings regarding instances of counterfeit Botox popping up at different practitioners across the country. While the fake Botox injections had no effectiveness toward achieving the desired results, they did lead to a variety of negative, unsafe reactions, including swelling at the injection site and difficulty breathing and swallowing.

Blount Memorial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Matthew Becker says there are ways to spot fake Botox before it’s too late. “The biggest thing to do is to take a good look at the packaging,” he said. “The counterfeit bottles do not have a lot number or Allergan – the maker of Botox – hologram on the bottle. They also do not display the active ingredient ‘onabotulinum toxin A’ on the carton or vial. The fake version, instead, displays the active ingredient as ‘botulinum toxin type A,’” he explained. “However, it’s important to note that just because you didn’t get the desired effects from your Botox injection, doesn’t mean that you received counterfeit Botox. There are several factors that contribute to how effective the Botox treatment is, including the concentration of the injection and the experience level of the person performing the injection,” he added.

Because of this, Becker says people always should seek their injections from a known professional. “The best way to avoid encountering counterfeit Botox is to only get your injections from board-certified plastic surgeons or dermatologists,” he said. “If you suspect you have been given fake Botox, ask to see the bottle, and look for those specifics on the packaging. I always reconstitute the Botox in front of the patient, so he or she can see the bottle and know it’s a brand new, unopened vial. Also, your board-certified surgeons and dermatologists know not to use old Botox. After the Botox vial is constituted, Allergan recommends using it within four hours. Some research has shown the vial can be good for up to two weeks, however it is highly dependent on rehydration and storage methods,” he explained.

“Patients also should be wary of ridiculously low prices on Botox, and avoid ordering from the internet,” Becker said. “I have had patients come to the office asking me to inject them with ‘Juvederm,’ or Botox they’ve ordered from the internet at a really low price. The problem with this is that you don’t know what you’re getting, how it is being packaged and how sterile it is,” he explained. “Counterfeiting Botox and dermal fillers is a growing business, but board-certified plastic surgeons and dermatologists get their Botox and fillers straight from the manufacturer, so they know exactly what they’re getting, and that it has been processed to meet certain standards,” he added.

Dr. Becker sees patients at East Tennessee Medical Group in Alcoa. For more information, call 865-268-1342.

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