A., a thirty-something woman living in Manhattan, saw an ad for a seemingly reputable NYC medical spa offering a Botox special -- about $250 per vial. She had been thinking about trying it for a while and at these prices, she couldn't resist. Unfortunately, the results were less than stellar -- "It wasn't just swelling! They ruined the next two months of my life. They put the Botox so close to my eyes that it prohibits me from squinting! I won't take my glasses off. I actually look older!"
Shocked by this report, we turned to Dr. Yan Trokel, a New York City cosmetic surgeon, who explained, "Virtually any 'licensed practitioner' who attends a two-day training seminar can be authorized to administer Botox -- or in some cases, designate a nurse to administer Botox." According to Dr. Trokel, injections performed incorrectly can lead not only to droopy eyelids or the surprised look, but also to double vision and muscle paralysis that can prevent people from performing normal daily functions.
Dr. Audrey Kunin, a dermatologist in Kansas City, MO, strongly recommends seeing a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon, not just any practitioner who has completed the certification. "No optometry offices or nail salons!" says Kunin, who also stresses the need to ask how many milligrams are being injected and what the dilution of the drug is. If you're concerned, she suggests asking to see the actual vial to be sure that it's really Allergan Botox Cosmetic.
Botox injections are usually priced higher at dermatologists' offices because you're paying for the doctor's time. Medical spas can get away with charging less because doctors are not actually administrating the injection, so they'll charge by the amount of Botox used instead -- which can sometimes be less then half of what you'll pay at the doctor's office. But help is imminent: Botox is priced so highly because it owns the US market, and competitors are on the way. The FDA has agreed to evaluate an anti-wrinkle injection by France-based pharmaceutical company Ipsen. If approved, the injection, which is already used in 23 countries, could be available later this year. But until then ...
If a Botox deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Like two-for-one sushi, the risks usually outweigh the benefits.
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