Women in These 9 States Are Reporting Disfigurement from “Mishandled” Facial Injections

Updated: Apr. 16, 2024

BOTOX's manufacturer, along with the government, have a sweeping message for consumers.

That occasional dose of BOTOX can do wonders for your confidence—but sadly, the government has issued a reminder that this procedure, which is meant to innocently prolong a youthful appearance, can have quite another effect if you don’t follow a few sound measures.

On April 15, 2024, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an advisory sharing that 19 patients in nine US states—Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Washington—had reported adverse reactions to a product that had been sold to them as BOTOX.

The CDC reports that the substance that was actually administered may have been “counterfeit” or “mishandled” BOTOX. The April 15 report states that nine hospitalizations have occurred as a result of this alleged mishandling.

The CDC says the patients had experienced the following symptoms:

  • Blurry vision and double vision
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Incontinence
  • Generalized weakness

The CDC says one issue healthcare professionals have identified is that the botulinum toxin, or the botulism strain that is the active ingredient in BOTOX, “could have spread beyond the injection site.” The CDC also reports the following:

All reports came from people identifying as females, ranging in age from 25 to 59 years, with a median age of 39 years. Eighteen (95%) people reported receiving botulinum toxin injections for cosmetic purposes. All people reported receiving these injections from unlicensed or untrained individuals or in non-healthcare settings, including homes and spas.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says anyone who thinks they may experience complications following this purported treatment should take the following steps:

  • If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, following an injection of botulinum toxin products, contact a health care professional or go to the emergency room.
  • Confirm with your health care professional that you are receiving a product from an authorized source.
  • Ask your health care professional if they are licensed and trained to administer the product.

Separately, the CDC listed tips for consumers who are seeking BOTOX treatment for medical or cosmetic purposes:

  • Ask your provider and setting (such as clinic or spa) if they are licensed and trained to give the injection.
  • Your state might have a license look-up tool where you can check if a provider or setting has the appropriate license.
  • Ask if the product is approved by FDA and obtained from a reliable source.
  • If in doubt, don’t get the injection.

Government authorities are also advising that injectables administered in a spa or “medi-spa” setting may not be safe, and that healthcare providers treating patients for this issue should call their respective health department immediately for consultation and antitoxin release.

The FDA reported: The counterfeit product includes counterfeiting of the outer carton and vial. The counterfeit product may be identified by one or more of the following:

  • the outer carton and vial contain lot number C3709C3
  • the outer carton displays the active ingredient as “Botulinum Toxin Type A” instead of “OnabotulinumtoxinA”
  • the outer carton and vial indicates 150-unit doses, which is not a unit made by AbbVie or Allergan
  • the outer carton contains language that is not English

While the report mentioned AbbVie’s BOTOX brand specifically, fake or mishandled versions of BOTOX’s competitors, such as Xeomin or Dysport, may also exist. At press time, AbbVie stated that “there is no indication that the reported events were linked to AbbVie’s FDA-approved Botox, and the genuine product should be considered safe and effective for its intended and approved uses.”

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