Ask The Expert: Where Does It Go?

Ever wonder why you need to keep getting Botox? Or what happens to the tattoo you're trying to remove?


Botox image via shutterstock

You finally decide to pursue some injectable skin-smoothing miracle, and then, four or five months later, you have to go back for another round. Where, exactly, did that lovely muscle-paralyzing toxin go?

That’s what I wondered after getting a tattoo removal consultation from Elizabeth Schlesinger, a Boston-based registered nurse and certified medical laser professional. During our meeting, she explained that the ink doesn’t just vanish. In fact, the laser breaks apart the ink and pushes it into your bloodstream which is why the procedure can only be done every six to eight weeks.

Your liver needs time to process all that stuff. So is that what also happens to Botox?

“Exactly,” says Sam Lin, a plastic surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. “Botox [sticks] around in your face for six to eight months and then is directly metabolized by the body at the site of injection,” he says. “It’s processed by the liver and kidney and then eventually secreted.”

Fillers leave the body in the same way, he says. “Those products are also metabolized by the body over a similar period of time, around six to eight months approximately, and then processed through the liver/kidney,” Lin says.

Either way, you’re giving your liver an unnecessary workout.

One more thing to think about: Botox is also excreted through human breast milk. So, if you are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant, perhaps you should let those frown lines go a little longer.