How (and Why) To Avoid Fake Botox And Dermal Fillers

Written by Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on January 17, 2019 3 Comments

avoiding fake botox

Neuromodulators (such as Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin) and dermal fillers (like Juvederm and Restylane) have become very popular alternatives to plastic surgery procedures. Patient demand for these injectables is well deserved since they can significantly improve many common facial aging symptoms (fine lines, wrinkles, volume loss, and sagging skin) without the cost and recovery time often required of surgical procedures.

The high demand, however, has created a lucrative black market for counterfeit Botox and fillers. These fraudulent alternatives will not provide the same results as their authentic counterparts. More importantly, counterfeit injectables can result in negative side effects that can endanger the health of a patient.

Like any other medical procedure, patients considering injectable treatments need to do their research on both the procedure itself and the prospective provider or injector who will perform the procedure. In this post we’ll discuss the dangers of fake Botox and fillers, as well as some simple way to make sure you are getting authentic products.

The dangers of counterfeit injectables

Fake neurotoxins and fillers can be harmful for two reasons. First, fake products are harmful to your wallet since they end up providing little to no results. Indeed, most patients that receive fake injectables see little to know improvements after their injection. Others who fraudulently receive a saline solution in place of a real filler may notice a slight improvement over the first couple of day following their injection. However, once the body process the saline their aging symptoms quickly return.

The second, more important, issue with fake Botox and pseudo-fillers is that they can result in serious, even life threatening, health issues. Counterfeit product is unregulated, meaning it can be composed of many unknown ingredients that can cause severe adverse reactions including allergic reactions, infection, scarring, and necrotizing (death) of the skin or surrounding tissue. These adverse reactions can sometimes be difficult to treat since the counterfeit product may include a host of mystery ingredients.

Tips: how to avoid fakes

There are some simple things patients can do to make sure they receive real Botox or fillers from a qualified injector:

Manufacturer Directory: Makers of popular injectables like Allergan (Botox and Juvederm) or Galderma (Dysport and Restylane) have websites that list authorized providers. Oftentimes the listed injectors have received additional training on using the product directly from the manufacturer.

Certified & Licensed Injectors: Select dermatologists or plastic surgeons who are board certified and have a current medical license in good standing from the state in which they operate. If you visit a nurse injector or physician assistant make sure they are properly licensed and work under a board-certified physician.

In-Office Treatments: Avoid “Botox parties” or other in-home services as they are common places where fake product is administered. Instead get your treatment done in the providers office.

Low Prices Are Red Flags: If an advertised price seems “too good to be true”, it usually is. The price of authentic brand name injectables in any geographic market are typically comparable since all providers buy the product from the same manufacturer. So, patients should beware of any injectable provider who advertises a significantly lower price than other certified injectors. The lower price may indicate that the product is fake or that the provider did not purchase the product directly from the manufacturer.

Get Recommendations: Find a provider by seeking a recommendation from your friends or family members. This way you can get a first-hand account of the procedure and provider from someone they trust.

Don’t Try To Verify Packaging: Some online advice about avoiding fakes advise consumers to inspect the box or packaging of the injectable. However, many fake counterfeits come in packaging that also mirrors real products, including holographic stickers and seals. Inspecting the box or vial of the injectable is not a reliable way to prevent being deceived.


Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD

Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD is a board certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon specializing in the practice of both cosmetic and medical dermatology. Dr. Geddes-Bruce is fellowship-trained in cosmetic dermatology and laser surgery. She served as Chief Resident at one of the nation’s top dermatology programs – The University of Texas at Houston and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

3 Responses to “How (and Why) To Avoid Fake Botox And Dermal Fillers”

  1. Avatar Penelope says:

    Make sure to see licensed injectors y’all!

  2. Avatar Lisa says:

    Is there any way to unmask one of these fraud “Drs” for botching up your face with who knows what after going through a terrible clinic visit ?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for reading our post, you ask a great question! Unfortunately there is no single outlet for spotting frauds. In many states you can look up the standing of a provider on their states medical board, depending on your state specific instances of negligence may be listed. You can also search the name of the provider to see if there are any Better Business Bureau (BBB) cases against them (both current and previous).

      But overall the best thing to do is choose a provider that is licensed through the manufacturer of the injectable to offer treatment.

      We always tell people to be cautious of cheap treatments where the price seems too goo to be true!

      WD Staff

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