What Is In BOTOX ®? Is it safe?

Are you wondering what is in BOTOX®? BOTOX® is the brand name for onabotulinumtoxinA. What many people don’t know is that it is used not just for cosmetic purposes, but also for the treatment of many different diseases.

What Is In BOTOX®?

BOTOX® has botulinum toxin in it. Specifically, it has onabotulinumtoxinA, which is a form of botulinum toxin. Botulinum toxin is actually made by a specific type of bacteria. The scientific name for this bacteria is Clostridium botulinum. There are other brands of botulinum toxin such as Dysport®.

In high doses, botulinum toxin can be dangerous. When it is used for medical and cosmetic purposes, a very small amount of botulinum toxin is used. Botulinum toxin can be very dangerous for infants under 12 months old. Because honey can have the bacteria that causes infant botulism, it is not recommended to feed honey to children who are under 12 months of age.

BOTOX® is a neuro-muscular blocker. This means it blocks specific chemical signals from nerves. These nerves are the ones that make muscles contract. It is commonly used to prevent wrinkles in the face because after being injected with onabotulinumtoxinA, the muscle is less likely to contract. If the muscle does not contract, then it won’t cause repeated lines to form in the face. Repetitive muscle contraction and line formation in the skin over time can lead to wrinkles. After injecting botulinum toxin, people can see a reduction in muscle contraction for a period of 3 to 6 months on average.

Side Effects Of BOTOX®

BOTOX® and BOTOX® Cosmetic have the same active ingredient, but they have different labeled indications. Because they have the same ingredient, the side effects and adverse events seen with BOTOX® can also be seen with BOTOX® Cosmetic.

The side effects and adverse reactions of this drug depend on the location of where it is injected. For example, when it is in injected into the forehead for the prevention of forehead lines, about 9% of patients will get a headache and 2% of patients will have brow ptosis (a droopy brow).

It is unlikely that the drug will make its way into breast milk but given the risk to infants of infant botulinum, it is not advised for pregnant or breastfeeding moms to have botulinum toxin.

While most people tolerate botulinum toxin without any problems, remember that this is a serious drug and should be only administered by an expert who knows what they are doing. There have been reports of serious adverse events related to BOTOX administration especially in people who have pre-existing cardiac conditions. A Board Certified Dermatologist or Board Certified Plastic Surgeon is a great resource to ask more questions to if you are interested in getting BOTOX®. You can see more complete drug information and information on side effects of BOTOX® at https://www.botox.com/

What Is In BOTOX®: Take Home Points

Related: Best Moisturizer After IPL Treatment

BOTOX® has botulinum toxin in it. Specifically, it has onabotulinumtoxinA, which is made by the bacteria is Clostridium botulinum. While it is usually well tolerated in small amounts, larger amounts can be dangerous. Also, there are certain patients who may be more at risk for side effects or adverse reactions from BOTOX®. It is important to engage a Board Certified Physician when considering having this drug injected for medical or cosmetic purposes.


Dressler D. Botulinum toxin drugs: brief history and outlook. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2016 Mar;123(3):277-9. doi: 10.1007/s00702-015-1478-1. Epub 2015 Nov 11. PMID: 26559824.


Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006–. OnabotulinumtoxinA. 2020 Sep 21. PMID: 33017114.





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