This Is How Dangerous Botox Really Is

Seems like just about everyone is getting the smoothed forehead look that comes from Botox injections these days. It’s not just Hollywood A-list actors and actresses anymore. Regular folks from all walks of life are getting crows feet injected with the “miracle” drug. While it’s been deemed safe by the FDA, how many of those folks getting Botox injections actually know what’s entering their bodies?

According to Dazed Digital, Botox is actually the brand name of the injectable form of botulinum toxin type A. But what exactly does any of that mean, anyway? Well, botulinum toxin is a type of protein derived from bacteria called Clostridium botulinum (via FDA). These bacteria grow in conditions where meat is not stored or cared for properly. If the infected meat is ingested, the individual will likely contract botulism. According to the CDC, botulism is a disease that attacks the body’s nervous system, weakening all the muscles and eventually leading to asphyxiation. Scarier still? “A single gram of crystalline toxin, evenly dispersed and inhaled, can kill more than one million people,” according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Talk about a biological weapon.

Why the frozen face?

So, how or why did Botox ever come to be used as a beauty agent? When properly diluted and used in small amounts, the poison in Botox that normally attacks the nervous system is used to block signals nerves send to make muscles contract. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, once the signal to contract the muscle is blocked, it’s able to relax, thereby giving the appearance of smooth skin or what’s become known as “frozen face.”

While Botox is most notably used for smoothing wrinkles, doctors and scientists have discovered many other applications for the toxin. As the Mayo Clinic tells it, Botox is also used to treat chronic migraines, excessive sweating, neck spasms, and even lazy eye. As it’s been pointed out, Botox is derived from a toxin that’s deadly to humans. But even in its weakened state, Botox can cause side effects like droopy eyelids, crooked eyebrows and smile, drooling, and even loss of bladder control.

Extreme safety procedures at the Botox plant

While all this is fascinating to be sure, the most interesting part about Botox?  The world’s supply comes by way of a little town in Ireland. According to Allure, Botox is manufactured in Westport, Ireland, located about 150 miles from Dublin. With a population of roughly 5,000, more than 1,200 Westport residents work in the plant owned by the drug manufacturer, Allergan, which has been producing Botox since 1994. Because of its dangerous nature, safety procedures for the plant are second to none.

According to Allergan Westport manager Paul Coffey, the air in the facility is filtered 200 times per hour and is continuously monitored for any changes in temperature and humidity. It’s even more complicated for anyone handling the toxin. In order to enter the “filling room,” where Botox is dispersed into medical vials, employees go through a 40-step process that involves removing street clothes and entering a special chamber to put on a jumpsuit, hood, goggles, paper boots, and two sets of rubber gloves. From start to finish, the dressing process usually takes about 30 minutes. So, it’s best to take care of bathroom breaks before suiting up (via Allure).

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