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Botox May Cause Brain Injury

There is nothing wrong with wanting to look younger, unless the Botox migrates and causes brain damage.

In this case, a jury handed down a $212 million award to a plaintiff who stated that Botox side effects left him with brain damage. The plaintiff used to have a normal life, up until he got Botox injections for writer’s cramp in his right hand. It seemed like a simple enough procedure, but while the injection process was fairly easy, he was left with permanent brain damage, brought on by the Botox triggering an autoimmune reaction.

The 67-year-old plaintiff filed a lawsuit accusing the Botox manufacturer of failing to warn users about the risk of brain damage as a result of using their product. The jury evidently agreed and awarded $12 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages. Unfortunately, the state the man lives in has a medical malpractice cap, and his award will be reduced to $350,000 despite his life-altering injuries. The manufacturer, Allergan, pled guilty to illegally marketing Botox.

It really should be no surprise that Botox tends to affect people in different ways, and that it has the potential to cause grave harm to those who use it. Botox itself is comprised of small amounts of bacteria that are part and parcel of botulism poisoning. That is what is injected to smooth out wrinkles, treat people with crossed-eyes, and assist people with involuntary eye blinking and involuntary neck muscle contractions, as well as excessive sweating. It has also found an off-label use to treat children with cerebral palsy, to help them with their stiff, jerky movements.

The off-label usage of this drug was called into question at trial, when the plaintiff revealed the company trained doctors on how to bill for unapproved uses of Botox. They also set up a reimbursement hotline that advised doctors on how to get paid for using Botox in procedures that had not been sanctioned by the FDA.

On the surface, the use of Botox to help medical conditions sounds wonderful. But, what a lot of people do not understand or perhaps do not realize is that the medication tends to spread, or migrate, from the injection site to other parts of the body. This can cause paralysis, impaired breathing and difficulty swallowing – complications that may lead to death.

Medical malpractice? While the circumstances of the case will dictate whether or not it is medical malpractice, there is a good chance a jury would find for the plaintiff in a case like this. There are some juries who do not like trying cases of cosmetic surgeons who have made mistakes, or injected drugs like Botox, largely because, although it should not be an issue, they feel if the plaintiff chose freely to go for treatments, then whatever happens, happens. Not all cosmetic medical malpractice cases are successful.

Brooks Schuelke is an Austin personal injury attorney with Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC. Contact an Austin injury lawyer at or (512) 476-4944.

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