Monday, March 30, 2009

Inaccurate Newsweek Article about Botox

A somewhat recent Newsweek article, from the issue dated April 21, 2008, about the dangers of Botox has received a lot of attention lately, unfortunately the inaccuracies present are more like those to be expected from a magazine like The National Enquirer. Here's a quick rundown of their misreporting:
  1. The study didn't actually use Botox. It used a laboratory-made research grade botulinum toxin A, rather than Botox or any other botulinum toxin A currently approved worldwide for human use.
  2. The study was in rats, not humans. Botox was approved for human use by the FDA over 19 years ago. Many studies have been done since then showing that is safe.
  3. The doses used were 150x more per body weight than Botox. Yes, 150 times greater. Furthermore, it was injected into a single site whereas Botox is typically injected at several sites within the area to be treated.
  4. An indirect, unproven testing method was used. The study did not actually measure botulinum toxin levels in the brains of the rats, but rather a protein they believe results from the process.
  5. The authors paid for publication of the study. The Journal of Neuroscience states, "Accepted manuscripts will not move into the production process until payment has been received." As of the publication of this article, there does not seem to be any information regarding journals to which the study may have been submitted prior to it being accepted by Journal of Neuroscience.
Now it may seem like I am trying to defend Botox because it is one of the treatments provided at our center. I can assure you this is not the case. Why? Several reasons. First, the moral and legal implications of providing a potentially unsafe treatment are entirely too severe. Second, we have many other methods of skin rejuvenation available, such as filler injections like Juvederm and Restylane, Sculptra, laser surgery, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels. We simply do not have a stake in the success of Botox and no reason to defend a potentially unsafe product. Third, unlike cigarette industry executives, many of the cosmetic surgeons who treat their patients with Botox have had the treatment themselves, and have treated their family members with it as well.

Hope this helps clear up any confusion or concern this article has created. As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask them in the comment area

Dr. Steven Hodgkin MD
Aesthetic Skin & Laser Medical Center
For questions, email me at

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