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Question of the week: what ingredients do wrinkle injections contain?

I’d like to have cosmetic injections to reduce the lines around my eyes and on my forehead but I’m worried about the toxins and chemicals in them.

What are wrinkle injections made of and are they safe?

- patient

Botox clinic Brisbane Ipswich
Dr David Sharp, plastic surgeon in Brisbane, profile image

Dr Sharp:

It’s always important to understand the ingredients that go into anything you are putting into your body. The active ingredient is a neurotoxin. The toxin is made by bacteria that is extracted using a fermentation process.

Anti-wrinkle injections also contain two inactive ingredients called human albumin and sodium chloride.

Pictured: muscle relaxing wrinkle injection results 2 weeks after treatment around the eyes at the Sharp Clinic. 

Human albumin is a common protein in blood plasma which is produced by the liver. Sodium chloride is salt, and this is used in the dilution process with sterile water.

It does not contain animal products, but has been tested on animals, so that’s an important consideration to make if you are vegan, or do not use products that have been developed through animal testing.

In terms of safety, it is important that the active ingredient is stored and transported correctly by a reputable supplier – and then diluted accurately with saline by a qualified clinician. And that’s before its injected.

When injected, this extremely small amount of toxin attaches itself to nerve endings, temporarily stopping the synapses that trigger muscle action and reducing the activity of the muscle. This causes a temporary reduction in muscle activity lasting 3 to 6 months.

Cosmetic wrinkle injection therapy is safe if administered correctly. The product we use for wrinkle injections in our clinics is the longest standing product in the market, with a long term safety record and TGA approval as a scheduled therapeutic drug. These muscle relaxing injection are also used clinically to treat migraines, muscular disorders and excessive sweating.

To ensure patient safety, the injections should be administered in a clinical environment (not a home, hair salon or beauty salon) and by a doctor – or a skilled nurse who works with a trusted qualified doctor. The main risks of wrinkle injections exist with injector error, which is why it’s important to choose the right clinician.

Side effects are usually limited to a small mosquito-bump like lump over the injection site, which subsides within 15 minutes – or small bruise at the injection site. Sometimes patients report a mild headache after having the injections. Misplaced wrinkle injections can cause droopy eyelids or overly-arched eyebrows, a crooked smile or drooling. It’s important that injections be placed precisely in order to avoid side effects.

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