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Lasers, Fillers, Botox Shots — Are They Really Safe?

Botox injection

The first large, multi-center study to look at the safety and side effects of nonsurgical cosmetic procedures — things like lasers, skin fillers and injections of neurotoxins like Botox — found that they are very safe with essentially no risk of severe or dangerous side effects.

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Researchers with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine looked at more than 20,000 procedures performed by 23 dermatologists at eight centers across the country. Minor adverse effects such as swelling, redness and bruising, which eventually went away, occurred in fewer than 1 percent of patients.

Most of the patients in the analysis were in their 40s to 70s, lead researcher and Northwestern University dermatologist Murad Alam said in an email. The data indicated no increased risk of side effects with age — “in fact, these procedures appear to continue to be safe in older patients,” he said.

That’s good news for the growing number of men and women looking to reduce the visible signs of aging, including wrinkles, furrows and dark spots. The most recent data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons show that these minimally invasive procedures approximately doubled the volume of cosmetic surgery procedures performed in the last decade.

Although women are getting the majority of these touch-up treatments, more than 385,000 men in the U.S. last year got Botox injections — or “Bro-tox,” as some call this man-trend — a 310 percent increase from 10 years ago, reports ABC News.

In the Northwestern study, published in JAMA Dermatology Nov. 5, fillers had a slightly higher rate of side effects — 0.52 percent — compared to lasers and neurotoxin injections. This is to be expected, the authors said, because fillers are slightly more invasive than the other treatments.

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Still, Alam cautioned that all these procedures should be handled by a board-certified dermatologist “who has done the procedure before and understands the risks and benefits.”

The study collected data only from dermatologists, “so we are most able to say that minimally invasive procedures appear safe in the hands of such doctors.”

Photo: NikiLitov/iStock

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