Is Botox Safe for Eyes?
Botox injections have become a commonplace tool in the fight against visible signs of aging, with over 4.26 million injections in 2015 alone. Costing around £150-£350 per session, it's also the most popular nonsurgical cosmetic procedure in the UK and works for people of nearly any adult age or gender. It is estimated that men receive over ten percent of total injections. If you are curious about Botox injections and are wondering if they are safe for your eyes, learning about the drug itself, proper injection methods, who shouldn't get Botox and the possible side effects of the injections are all important considerations and integral to your informed consent.
What Is Botox?
Botox is a medicinal form of botulinum type A. It's actually a form of botulism, the toxic bacteria responsible for food poisoning and, at times, death of the sufferer. Botulism is dangerous because it causes a slow paralysis, which in turn can cause difficulty breathing or respiratory failure. Botulism poisoning occurs most often in food items that were home-canned and it was a much more serious problem in the 1960s and 1970s than today. With that said, the older generations likely remember the horrors of botulism and may need additional education to understand the medicinal application of Botox.
Botox harnesses the paralysis of botulinum toxin for the good of the patient. By injecting it directly, the digestive tract and respiration are unaffected and muscles can be targeted directly to reduce or eliminate painful muscle spasms or excessive sweating. Botox Cosmetic, a formulation used to relax muscles in the brow to reduce or eliminate forehead wrinkles, has been used off-label for crow's feet, cheek wrinkles and other fine lines caused by flexing muscles beneath.
With all of this considered, it's easy to see that Botox is perfectly safe for many individuals.
Whether it's safe for you personally, however, depends on your own physiology, the injection method, your general health and other factors.
Proper Injection Methods
When considering whether a product is safe for you, you need to consider the method used. This includes the experience level of the practitioner injecting it and the setting. Ideally, you should received Botox injections at the medical practitioner's office, so you are in the right setting for treatment if you have a poor reaction. So-called “Botox parties” at someone's private home are not a god idea, as sterility is also a concern in such a setting. Your doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner usually does the injections quickly in the office, using sterile procedures and monitoring you for adverse side effects before releasing you back to your normal routines.
Not the Right Choice for Everyone
As with any medication or medical procedure, Botox isn't the right choice for every patient. First and foremost, it's important to understand that Botox is generally only a good choice for fine lines and wrinkles that appear when you're laughing, smiling or making other facial expressions. Deep lines that are present when your face is relaxed are better treated by a dermal filler.
There are also several conditions, diseases and syndromes that make Botox a poor choice for a given patient, including:
- Those who are allergic to Botox or similar drugs such as Dysport or Xeomin. If you've had a bad reaction to this type of drug in the past, a dermal filler, dermal abrasion or another type of treatment may be a better fit.
- Individuals with a skin infection or other skin condition on the treatment site. This includes cystic acne, psoriasis, eczema and herpes flare-ups.
- Those with a condition that affects the nerves or muscles, such as Lambert-Eaton syndrome, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) or myasthenia gravis. Other conditions, such as migraines, TMJ or dystonia, are good candidates for Botox. Tell your doctor about any conditions you have.
- People with breathing problems such as asthma, emphysema or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).
- Those with issues swallowing, plan to undergo surgery soon or have already had facial surgery in the treatment area.
- Individuals with drooping eyelids. Botox injections around the eyes could exacerbate the drooping and affect sight.
- Those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or plan to do either within the next six months. Due to ethical constraints Botox has never been tested on pregnant or nursing women, although it's believed it would not pass through to the baby in either case.
- Lastly, you need to consider any medications, herbs or supplements you currently take. Some medicines used for sleeping, muscle relaxants, injected antibiotics and cold medications can react badly with Botox.
Potential Side Effects of Botox
While most people experience no side effects, the most common include swelling, redness, bruising, bleeding or, possibly, infection. Some of these adverse effects could point to an allergy, so also be on the lookout for itching, welts, wheezing, dizziness or feeling faint. Tell your doctor immediately if you suspect an allergic reaction. Dry mouth, headaches and neck pain have also been reported.
There is also a chance the Botox could migrate and relax muscles that weren't targeted in the treatment. For example, an individual who received injections to the eyebrow region may develop a temporary drooping eyelid if the Botox migrates to the muscles responsible for raising the lid. Even if this does occur, the effects of Botox wear off within about three months, so there is no permanent damage done.
Steps You Can Take to Avoid Side Effects
First, choose your practitioner carefully. You want someone who has plenty of experience with Botox. Some physician assistants and nurse practitioners are far more experienced with giving these injections than some doctors. With that in mind, be aware that salon workers and most aestheticians do not have medical training and are not permitted to prescribe or dispense medications. Some unscrupulous individuals have been caught dispensing pure saline, heavily diluted Botox or even other products entirely, so it's important to be seen at a medical practice.
You will also want to follow the pre- and post-injection instructions to the letter. Poor adherence to protocols can increase your risk of infection and poor results.
Only see one medical professional for Botox. Botox should only be administered once every three months. Don't try to 'double up' your treatments by seeing two doctors. This increases your risk of adverse reactions considerably.
The Safety of Botox
In general, it's safe to say that Botox is a great product for both aesthetics and treating ailments like muscle spasms and migraines. Provided you are in good general health, follow instructions and see a qualified medical professional, Botox should be perfectly safe for the vast majority of people. If you have any additional questions or concerns, you should ask your doctor about them before consenting to receiving injections. Botox will not affect your vision or the health of your eyes.
Is Botox safe for people who wear Contact Lenses?
Assuming all has gone well, Botox should not affect your eyes. Contact lenses are also safe after a Botox injection, just be sure to gently insert your contacts as you want to avoid rubbing a treated area which could move the Botox.
Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 26 Jun 2017, Last modified: 15 Feb 2020