Does the COVID-19 Vaccine Really Make You Immune to Botox?

Does the COVID-19 Vaccine Really Make You Immune to Botox?

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.”

These altered expectations may have to do with what many experts refer to as “Zoom doom.” Amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, people saw themselves on camera more than ever before, and reportedly noticed more of their “flaws,” resulting in the desire to pursue cosmetic procedures. This, combined with the uptick of plastic surgeons and injectors using social media to promote their practices, helped normalize injectables, making them more popular than ever before. Therefore it's possible that this is a coincidental phenomenon, rather than a clinical one, seeing as how many more people are now getting Botox.

How did the “immunity” rumor start?

Various sources of information were compiled and shared together on social media without context, which led readers to believe they were related. This included a screenshot of an article from The Telegraph published in August 2021, the headline of which read: “Coronavirus May Be Making Us Immune to Botox, Says Specialist Doctor.”

The only source for this claim is one person, the “specialist doctor.” Other slides, however, feature screenshots of the actual study, which was published over a full year later. This also doesn't use the word immunity, and has nothing to do with the Telegraph headline; the 2022 study and the 2021 article just so happen to cover slightly similar ground. When grouped together in one post, however, it seems that they do. Hence the viral misunderstanding.

Should I continue to get vaccinated?

Yes, you should continue to get vaccinated—even if that potentially means your face needs more frequent touch-ups. A few forehead lines didn't kill nearly 7 million people, leaving one in five of them with chronic symptoms.

“It is still important to get the COVID vaccine,” asserts Dr. Garshick, and Dr. Zeichner agrees: “This should not be a reason to avoid it. It is important that people still continue to get their COVID vaccine to protect themselves from this potentially deadly virus.”

Danielle Sinay is the associate beauty editor at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @daniellesinay.

Originally Appeared on Glamour