Friday, 25 January 2013

Beware fake botoxWe asked our skincare expert, Dr Maureen Allem, about fake botox. Dr Allem is a cosmetic doctor, an anti-ageing expert and the Founder of Skin & Body Renewal clinics and Oasis Spas.

Okay, so you have decided that you are tired of dealing with your crow’s-feet and forehead wrinkles and you are ready to do something about it. You have been saving your money and finally have enough to take the Botox plunge. You schedule your consultation at the local clinic. They inform you that you are a perfect candidate for Botox injections. You show up on the day of your procedure and get your injections. A few days later, rather than getting that refreshed, younger look you were expecting you end up with a peculiar look and droopy looking eyebrows. Wonder what happened? Well chances are you were another victim of fake Botox injections performed by an unqualified injector.

The medications Botulinum toxin A, sold under the brand name BOTOX® and Abo Botulinum toxin A, branded as Dysport, are the two brands that are generally used safely for the reduction of brow frown lines. They are both FDA approved and MCC approved here in SA.

1. How is fake Botox different from real Botox?

Fake Botox or Dysport could be as a result of the Botox crystal being overly diluted with saline, rendering it less effective. In other words, it’s not mixed to recommended specifications by the manufacturer or it may contain other foreign chemicals.

2. What are the dangers of using fake Botox?

As Botox® becomes more popular, the danger from counterfeit substitutes rises. Some people may minimise these dangers assuming that ineffectiveness is the worst case scenario – but nothing could be further from the truth. In recent years, several incidents of fake Botox injections have put victims into hospital. Fake Botox can cause paralysis of the muscles that control swallowing and breathing. Injections in the wrong doses can cause respiratory distress and much worse.

3. How can a lay person spot the difference between real Botox and fake Botox?

They can’t. Often consumers allow non-licensed practitioners to perform “minor” procedures such as Botox® because of the reduced costs, but are they really getting what they are paying for?

To safeguard yourself against falling victim to false Botox:
• Make sure you go to a reputable aesthetic practice run by doctors. The larger the practice, the more you will increase your chances of receiving bona fide Botox or Dysport. This is because they are far more likely to have an ongoing relationship and large account with reputable distributors. Also, larger aesthetic practices are using much larger quantities of Botox or Dysport which ensures a fresher supply. 
• Avoid beauty salons or clinics that have visiting doctors.
• Make sure you are injected by a qualified cosmetic doctor who has been injecting for a number of years.
• Before you receive Botox injections you should always ask to see the original packaging. Ensure it is Botox distributed by Allergan or Dysport distributed by Pharmaplan and not a generic form distributed by illegal importers.
• Make sure the benefits and risks are fully explained to you in a patient consultation.
• Fully disclose any medical conditions you might have and medications you are taking, including vitamins and over-the-counter drugs.
• The alarm bells should start ringing if Botox is offered at a special price.

4. If you come across fake Botox, what should you do?

Unfortunately, there is no governing body to whom you can report purveyors of fake Botox. However, you can report it to the distributors: Allergan for Botox; or Pharmaplan in the case of Dysport .

If you have any further inquiries about Botox, please contact Skin & Body Renewal on 0861 263 972 or visit

Other article you may be interested in:
How Botox affects your emotions
Botox in your twenties
Who should be performing beauty procedures


Written by

Dr Maureen Allem is a GP with a special interest in Aesthetic procedures and Integrative Anti-Ageing Medicine. She is also the founder and Medical Director of national group Skin, Body and Health Renewal and Oasis Spas, with 17 centres and four Oasis spas across South Africa's major cities in Johannesburg, Pretoria, the Western Cape and KZN. Anti-ageing treatments include non-surgical, anti-aging procedures, cellulite and weight loss programmes as well as body sculpting procedures. The ultimate aim of all consultations is to provide optimal health and to restore aesthetic beauty. Health Renewal appointments involves an hour long extensive medical consultation which includes hormonal balancing, nutraceutical supplements, intravenous support and detoxification treatments. Dr Maureen has seventeen Doctors working with her using the same techniques she has spent years honing. Dr Maureen frequently travels overseas to World Anti-Ageing Congresses and Laser Forums to stay abreast of the most up-to-date non-surgical procedures.

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  1. Sue1N

    Research, research before one tries anything new!

    6 years ago •

  1. NaturalDiva

    This is so scary. We need to be careful when considering procedures.

    6 years ago •

  1. Carlene

    Helpful advice! Not quite at the point of considering Botox (yet, LOL).

    6 years ago •

  1. kunene

    You can always spot a botoxed face from afar off….even if it is only the lips and I prefer laser….but good articles for botox fans

    6 years ago •

  1. Funindawo

    This is a useful article, I did not know that it can be faked, so it’s always good to ask for original packaging.

    6 years ago •

  1. Pseudo_kate

    Scary, I think I will just stick to sunscreen and eating well for now.

    6 years ago •

  1. Glamorous Glitter

    Never thought of getting botox. Although this is great to know! Will bear this in mind!

    6 years ago •

  1. Mpoyif

    Not a fan of Botox. Age gracefully, I say

    6 years ago •

  1. Pannack

    Nope! Sorry I am too much of a woes to do this!

    6 years ago •

  1. Cat

    Great article but I have never even considered Botox, way too scary for me

    6 years ago •

  1. Riekie

    I’ll stick with looking myself and growing old naturally.

    6 years ago •

  1. Leana

    Very helpful! No botox for me thanks

    6 years ago •

  1. GoldenShimmeringCloud

    SO informative! Although I am not thinking of getting a Botox treatment, it’s still good to know about it. Thank you!

    6 years ago •

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