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How safe is Botox?

March 04, 2016

Botulinum toxin injections, which are more commonly known as Botox, involve chemicals being injected into a part of the body to temporarily paralyse the muscles.

When administered into the face, Botox can help to smooth out wrinkles, as it prevents the muscles that are used to create different facial expressions from working properly, while it has also been used by doctors to stop excessive sweating and weak bladders.

As the procedure involves needles - sometimes several at a time - there is a small risk of sharps injury associated with it. But how can this be avoided, particularly as Botox is growing in popularity around the world?

How popular is Botox?

Statistics released last year by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery revealed that Botox is the most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedure around the world for both men and women, with 4.8 million people opting for it between 2014 and 2015.

It is believed that the growing popularity of cosmetic procedures is primarily due to the rise of so-called celebrity culture, and as social media and other forms of online reporting increase, images of 'ideals' are now more accessible than ever, infiltrating every area of people's lives.

As a result, and due to advances in medical procedures, the general public are able to transform their image to look like their idols - if they have the money to enable them to do so.

According to figures from research carried out by Transform Cosmetic Surgery in 2014, Botox is most popular among 35 to 44-year-olds who are concerned about the natural ageing process and simply want to look 'fresher'.

How safe is the procedure?

The Transform Cosmetic Surgery research also led to the discovery that 84 per cent of Botox users have no idea exactly what they are having injected into their bodies.

This lack of awareness about the procedure means patients could unnecessarily be putting themselves at risk of experiencing adverse side effects.

Michael Cadier, president of the British Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, commented: "The decision to undergo surgery must be well thought-out, with managed expectations, understanding the risks through fully-informed consent and, most importantly, choosing the right specialist provider who is properly trained and accredited."

As Botox involves needles, there is naturally an increased risk of sharps injuries as well, to both the surgeon and the patient if the procedure is not carried out in the safest way possible.

Like in all disciplines where needles are used, the medical professional administering the procedure needs to make sure the instruments are disposed of properly in designated sharps bins to reduce the risk of an accidental prick from a used needle. Contaminated devices can lead to the spread of potentially life-threatening infections, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

Other, less serious risks and side effects associated with Botox include the development of flu-like symptoms shortly after the procedure, as well as blurred vision and droopy facial features.

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