Just last month, a news report about a 32-year-old real estate agent who died days after getting botulinum toxin injections shocked Singapore.
Commonly used to treat the cosmetic appearance of wrinkles and reducing the size of the jawline, botulinum toxin is a relative common aesthetic procedure that’s very much sought-after by aesthetic patients.
To understand more about the procedure and the risks that are involved, we spoke to Dr. Tan Ying Zhou, the Founder and Medical Director of Mizu Aesthetic Clinic, who shared his professional insight.
What exactly is botulinum toxin and how does it work?
Botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. When it is injected into the treatment area, it relaxes the muscle by causing temporary weakness. Its effect typically lasts 4 – 9 months.
What kind of benefits can this procedure offer?
It is generally used to treat wrinkles, crow’s feet, frown, and forehead lines by relaxing the facial muscles. It is also used for medical conditions such as cervical dystopia, overactive bladder, chronic migraines and such.
In terms of cost and efficacy, botulinum toxin injections is my top choice of reducing facial lines and wrinkles, and has been shown to have the highest patient satisfaction. It can also be used to relieve unpleasant side effects caused by trismus (teeth grinding), and has the added plus of also shrinking your jawline for a slimmer face!
What are some of the risks that come with the procedure that are lesser known?
For cosmetic usage, temporary soreness and aching at the treated areas [can be a possible side effect]. Should the toxin travel beyond the intended treatment areas, it can cause temporary unintended weakness in other areas.
However, for medical usage, higher dosages are used and these may lead to complications. The side effects are dependent on the location of injection and the dose of toxin injected.
Side effects for medical usage can be more serious than those that arise during a cosmetic procedure. They include paralysis of critical muscle groups, arrhythmia, heart attack, seizures, respiratory arrest, and can even be fatal.
What would you typically advise patients before they go for botulinum toxin?
One should always be transparent with their medical history and list all allergies to the doctor before commencing.
They should also check what brands of botulinum toxin the clinic uses and has, and make sure that the brands are HSA-approved.
In Singapore, only doctors are licensed to perform this procedure, and they should avoid home-based beauticians (you can find them on platforms like Carousell!) offering injections at a cheaper price.
How would you advise patients regarding receiving aesthetic procedures so that they can enjoy their benefits without worry of serious consequences?
As the most frequently done aesthetic procedure, botulinum toxin is generally considered safe for cosmetic usage.
Aesthetic procedures are designed to be less invasive and have less side effects as compared to surgery; for example HIFU vs Traditional Facelift.
All MOH-approved aesthetic procedures are non-invasive or minimally invasive, and when properly done by an experienced, licensed doctor, it is generally safe.
Like all medical procedures, there are associated side effects, but these are usually mild and reversible. In rare cases, complications such as drug allergies can occur.
Dr. Tan is from Mizu Aesthetic Clinic, located at 8A Marina Boulevard #B2-12 Marina Bay Link Mall Singapore 018984.
There has been speculation about the clinic involved in the recent fatal incident. Mizu Aesthetic Clinic had proactively clarified they were not involved and encourage anyone with questions related to the safety of aesthetic procedures to contact them at [email protected].