Recently, Allure magazine asked me to review a study that claimed Botox can be used to treat acne. The study, which was published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, was written by Chicago plastic surgeon Anil Shah, who says he has used Botox to treat about 100 patients for their acne.
Dr. Shah believes Botox treats acne in two ways, firstly by blocking the chemical acetylcholine, which revs up oil production, and secondly by paralyzing the tiny muscles that surround pores and preventing them from expanding. While Dr. Shah's findings are intriguing (17 out of the 20 patients he examined reported a decrease in sebum production and pore size), his study was much too small to offer any conclusive evidence that Botox can improve acne--to do that, a randomized, double-blind, controlled study is necessary.
Though Botox may slightly decrease oil production, in my opinion it won't help cure pimples. In fact, I have personally treated thousands of patients with Botox and have never seen an improvement in acne. Even more worrying is that it would have to be used on the cheeks, which are frequently prone to acne. If your doctor accidentally paralyzed one of the many muscles in the cheeks, you could end up looking like you'd had a stroke! (Read Botox: Pros, Cons and In-Betweens.)
Even without these issues, this would be a very expensive way to treat acne--Botox typically costs $500 per vial and only lasts about four months. There are many cheap and effective acne treatments that offer much more bang for your buck, including drugstore products by Oxy and Neutrogena that contain benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. (Read Salicylic Acid - Inexpensive Skincare That Works.)
Or you can visit your dermatologist to take advantage of the "credit cards" currently being offered by drug companies to stimulate sales. They offer patients discounts of up to $100 on prescription drugs like Ziana (a mix of a retinoid and an antibiotic), which will cost just $50 for a three-month supply after the discount.