She nearly died from 'rare' Botox complications. Is Botox safe?

Alicia Hallock got Botox injections to help with her migraines. She nearly died and was left partially paralyzed.

Hallock, 36, went viral last month when she shared her story on social media. It was a rare complication that spread to muscles in her neck, which caused issues including neck paralysis, droopy eyelids, blurry vision, dizziness and trouble speaking. Even scarier were the issues with dysphagia, a condition that makes swallowing difficult which can lead to choking on saliva, and botulism, a serious illness that attacks the body's nerves.

"I could have died," she wrote in an Instagram post last week, while still in recovery from the incident. "There were many sobering moments that made me realize how lucky I was to have gotten the help when I did."

Hallock told her 7,000-plus followers the conditions could take "weeks to wear off" before she's able to see, eat, drink and move normally again. Should her incident make you think twice about getting Botox? Here's what experts say.

Is Botox safe?

Hallock's case, though distressing to hear about, is an anomaly, her doctors told her. The American Society of Plastic Surgery concurs, calling Botox-induced botulism symptoms "very unlikely."

Botox injections use the same kind of toxin that causes foodborne botulism — though this form of toxin is purified and meets Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, per the Mayo Clinic. The injections work by using that toxin "to prevent a muscle from moving for a limited time," which can help smooth wrinkles, treat sweating, migraines and other conditions.

"Every doctor on my case was in shock to hear about what happened and how it got so dangerously grave," she wrote. "One doctor had treated food-borne botulism, but not one person involved in my care had ever seen this from Botox injections. People do have Botox complications, even experiencing some or all of the symptoms I have. However, it is extremely rare to have numerous symptoms at the severity or degree that I did. So, the hospital is doing a case study on me and this bizarre situation we’ve been walking through."

More commonly, complications of Botox may include bruising or headaches, dermatologist Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky tells USA TODAY.

"Rarely, when injected incorrectly, Botox can cause feelings of heaviness, drooping of the eyebrow or other unwanted asymmetry depending on what areas were injected," Zubritsky adds.

The ‘Barbie Botox’ trend has people breaking the bank to make necks longer. Is it worth it?

What happens if you stop Botox?

When working as it should, Botox results usually last for 3 or 4 months, Zubritsky says, though she notes it's "totally dependent" on the person.

"Contrary to popular belief, Botox doesn’t just stop working one day," she says. "After botox is injected, it takes several weeks — around 5 to 6 — to reach peak efficacy. After that time, the muscle activity slowly starts to return to baseline over the next few week to months."

Who should avoid Botox?

Botox is "considered safe and effective for most people," Zubritsky says. She recommends those who are pregnant, allergic to Botox or have certain neuromuscular disorders refrain from use.

What is 'Brotox'? Why men are going all in on Botox

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Is Botox safe? What to know, who should avoid the procedure