Serious and/or immediate hypersensitivity reactions have been reported. These reactions include anaphylaxis, serum sickness, urticaria, soft-tissue edema, and dyspnea. If such a reaction occurs, further injection of BOTOX® should be discontinued and appropriate medical therapy immediately instituted. One fatal case of anaphylaxis has been reported in which lidocaine was used as the diluent, and consequently the causal agent cannot be reliably determined.
Other than that, there don’t seem to be any specific groups of people or health conditions that are contraindicated for Botox injections. As with all treatments, general health guidelines apply. People with a healthy body-mass index who are non-smokers, moderate or non-drinkers, and physically active will nearly always tolerate any type of medical treatment well.
Botox is a drug made from a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum called botulinum toxin. "It's a poison secreted by the bacteria," plastic surgeon Norman Rowe, M.D., tells SELF. Botulinum toxin has proven to be a successful and valuable therapeutic protein when dosage, frequency of treatment and variety of treated clinical conditions are considered, according to Howard Sobel, M.D., a dermatologist in New York. Basically: when it's done right. When it's done wrong—like, really, really wrong—it can cause "botulism-like symptoms," according to Mayo Clinic, which may include muscle weakness, trouble breathing, speaking or swallowing, bladder control issues, and vision problems. That is "very unlikely," but a more than convincing enough reason not to go bargain hunting for Botox.
Allergan says Botox is well established as a drug and that the benefits and risks of toxins are well understood. "With more than 25 years of real-world clinical experience ... approximately 3,200 articles in scientific and medical journals, marketing authorizations in more than 90 markets and many different indications, Botox and Botox Cosmetic are [among] the most widely researched medicines in the world," an Allergan rep wrote in an emailed statement.
It’s not just about Botox, though. Last month, the FDA approved the first migraine-specific drug to prevent the severe headaches. Called Aimovig, the injectable med will cost $6,900 a year, according to The New York Times, plus injection fees. Because of the high costs, experts expect the new drug to be subject to step therapy policies. Stephen Silberstein, the director of the headache center at Jefferson University, told me in 2016 that he wouldn’t be surprised if insurance companies required patients to even try and fail Botox before covering the new meds (there are a few of them under development).
BOTOX is indicated for the treatment of upper limb spasticity in adult patients, to decrease the severity of increased muscle tone in elbow flexors (biceps), wrist flexors (flexor carpi radialis and flexor carpi ulnaris) , finger flexors (flexor digitorum profundus and flexor digitorum sublimis), and thumb flexors (adductor pollicis and flexor pollicis longus).
Treatment with BOTOX® and other botulinum toxin products can result in swallowing or breathing difficulties. Patients with pre-existing swallowing or breathing difficulties may be more susceptible to these complications. In most cases, this is a consequence of weakening of muscles in the area of injection that are involved in breathing or oropharyngeal muscles that control swallowing or breathing (see Boxed Warning).
Most insurance companies require patients to try at least two oral medications first. Botox is expensive, so if you respond well to oral medications, it makes sense to stick with the more-affordable option. If you don’t respond to medications or if the side effects are intolerable, however, your insurer may cover Botox. You’ll need to check with your plan for your specific coverage requirements.

In detrusor overactivity associated with neurologic condition patients with analyzed specimens in the drug development program (including the open-label extension study), neutralizing antibodies developed in 3 of 300 patients (1.0%) after receiving only BOTOX 200 Unit doses and 5 of 258 patients (1.9%) after receiving at least one 300 Unit dose. Following development of neutralizing antibodies in these 8 patients, 4 continued to experience clinical benefit, 2 did not experience clinical benefit, and the effect on the response to BOTOX in the remaining 2 patients is not known.
30+ year migraine warrior, wife, mother, corporate exec turned health advocate, Paula is Migraine Again Managing Editor and Chief Encouragement Officer. She champions patient's needs as an American Migraine Foundation Board Member, CHAMP Coalition Leader, IHS Patient Advocate and co-author of CaMEO and My Migraine Voice research studies. In addition to hosting the Migraine Again Podcast and producing the Migraine World Summit, Paula is a frequent speaker at industry, health care and public policy events. She's also the Founder and CEO of the World Health Education Foundation, a 501c3. Follow her on LinkedIn or Facebook.
Tell your doctor if you have received any other botulinum toxin product in the last 4 months; have received injections of botulinum toxin such as Myobloc®, Dysport®, or Xeomin® in the past (tell your doctor exactly which product you received); have recently received an antibiotic by injection; take muscle relaxants; take an allergy or cold medicine; take a sleep medicine; take aspirin-like products or blood thinners.
×