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*Botox Causes Brain Damage - Hogwash or Science*(C)

Lately I've been reading some scary stuff about BOTOX. I know enough about headlines to understand that those written to shock, alarm, or titillate grab attention. Not usually the case with headlines written to calm, soothe or reassure. They seem to draw little notice. Latest case in point: Botox Causes Brain Damage.
Scary, right? True? Read on.

BOTOX was first given FDA clearance for the treatment of ocular conditions such as strabismus, juvenile cerebral palsy and other large muscle, lower limb spasticities. At these high doses, some adverse reactions truly did occur. That much is fact. At times the symptoms were severe, including difficulty swallowing and breathing. Some systemic toxicity was found in patients with neuromuscular disorders and other underlying neuromuscular conditions. It is important to note that most all of these serious events were in children treated with huge doses of botulism ranging from 6.25 to 32 units per kilogram of bodyweight — that is the equivalent of 460 to 2,400 units for an adult. BOTOX prescribed for medical conditions. Let's think of BOTOX treatments for medical conditions as the apples of our fruit basket. But let's not compare apples with oranges!  

The oranges in our fruit basket are the BOTOX treatments administered for aesthetic purposes, (i.e. to soften facial wrinkles). The 20 unit dosage of BOTOX approved for aesthetic treatments is a sharp contrast to the 460 to 2400 unit dosage used to treat medical conditions.  So we can't use the same yardstick when comparing apples with oranges.

I discussed these latest BOTOX(R) headlines with Dr. Vic Navurkur, past president of the [Link Removed]with an active aesthetic dermatologic practice in the Bay Area of San Francisco.
"The media has taken this completely out of context!" he exclaimed with some amusement. "As a treatment for medical conditions, Botox is often administered in very high strengths and yes, some complications have been noted there. But these dosages are not comparable to those used in aesthetic treatments."

Scare tactics aside, if you are thinking about BOTOX treatments, here are three important questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is there anything in my health history that could recommend against it. (If you have any neurological disorder, first discuss possible complications  with your internist.)
  2. Am I bothered by facial wrinkles in areas that BOTOX could soften? (i..e. forehead, crows feet, neck cords, etc.)
  3. Can I afford this expense on an ongoing basis (every 3-5 months)

Tune in for Part 2 on Botox next week.

Lois W. Stern is the author of [Link Removed] 

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