Does your Botox seem to be fading faster than usual? Apparently, you’re not alone: Not only are doctors taking to social media to report patients needing more frequent touch-ups, but a recent study found that Botox could be less effective after COVID vaccination. The key word there is could, though: The report states that Botox “might be less effective” postvaccination, noting that “further research is required” to reach any conclusion—especially because the study was conducted on only 45 people.
“More research is needed [on the topic],” Marisa Garshick, MD, board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology, points out. “When a study is small, it is hard to interpret and generalize the results for a larger population.” Furthermore, it’s possible people only think they need to touch up their Botox more often due to cosmetic injections’ increasing popularity (more on that below).
Still, the internet took this information—or more likely, an out-of-context headline—and ran with it, resulting in a now viral rumor that COVID vaccines cause immunity to Botox. But vaccines do not cause immunity, and rumors you may have seen online have nothing to do with the study.
To set the record straight, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about Botox and COVID vaccines, according to actual dermatologists, who assert that, yes, you should still be getting vaccinated.
Do COVID-19 vaccines make you immune to Botox?
No. The word immune implies partial or total resistance, which wasn’t the case for the study participants. The Botox in question did take effect, meaning it worked and therefore they were not resistant. The only difference between pre- and postvaccination is participants’ claim that Botox didn’t last as long as before. You know what the COVID vaccine does make you up to 90% immune to, though? COVID-19!
That said, it is technically possible to become “immune” to Botox with continual treatment. “Generally speaking, we know that, over time, many patients do develop an immunity to Botox,” Joshua Zeichner, MD, board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Department of Dermatology, says. “This means that patients are getting used to the treatments, which are not lasting as long as they used to, and some patients even require higher doses than they used to.”
So what did the study find?
“This study showed that the time between botulinum toxin A injections [botox appointments] was shorter after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Garshick says. According to the study, which had a sample size of only 45 people, the time between each touch-up decreased by 22 days: Participants’ Botox reportedly lasted a mean of 118 days prior to vaccination, and now lasts a mean of 96.
“While this may suggest that Botox is lasting a shorter amount of time, the study is too small to draw any conclusions,” Garshick reiterates.
Why are the vaccines possibly affecting Botox?
“We know that the COVID vaccine has an impact on our immune system,” Dr. Zeichner says, pointing to a small number of patients developing reactions to dermal fillers after vaccination in 2021. “This new data suggests that the COVID vaccine may also have an impact on longevity of Botox, but it is unclear whether Botox is not lasting as long, or whether patients are choosing to come in earlier for injections because of altered expectations. I personally have seen a major shift in my practice before and after the pandemic.”