Aesthetic Treatments

How to Know Your Cosmetic Injectable Is the Real Deal — Before You Even Book an Appointment

Woman getting injectables

Most cosmetic injectable appointments are pretty straightforward: you book a consultation, a licensed provider decides whether or not you’re a candidate for injectable wrinkle reducers and/or fillers, and then — after serious consideration and conversation with your provider — you go through with the treatment. Millions of these procedures are performed annually, and the majority of injectables — when administered in a reputable clinical setting — can be effective and safe. Yet, many of us have heard horror stories about treatments gone wrong. 

[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face, including the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet. Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, both injectable wrinkle reducers and injectable fillers have potential risks and side effects. Talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. And learn more now by chatting with a trained aesthetic specialist.] 

No medical treatment (injectables included) are without risk. But are you opening yourself up to even greater risk by not carefully choosing your provider? A likely reason for many injectable treatments going awry is the use of counterfeit products and, as doctors have previously told SpotlyteTM, even the most seasoned providers have been targeted by purveyors of illegitimate injectables. 

One such doctor is Dr. Alexander Z. Rivkin, a board-certified plastic surgeon at Los Angeles’s RIVKINTM Westside Aesthetics. “Several years ago, I and many other aesthetic practitioners received mailings about a cheap neurotoxin for sale,” he recounts. “Most legitimate doctors threw the mailing away.” 

It’s important to remember that injectables should be treated like the prescribed medical treatments that they are. Here, we outline the differences between FDA-approved injectables and counterfeit products, as well as how to know if you could be getting treated with counterfeit injectables.  

“The injectables that we use in the United States are medications certified as safe and effective by the US Food and Drug Administration,” explains Rivkin. He notes that the companies who make these products have invested a great deal of money, time, and effort into ensuring safety and efficacy via clinical studies. “This means that when a product is used that comes directly from [one of these companies], the consumer knows that they are receiving [an FDA-approved] medication.”

Contrarily, when a non-sanctioned injectable is administered, there’s zero assurance that the product will do what it says it will do or not endanger the patient. There’s also no real way to tell what, exactly, the injectable contains. Learn more about counterfeit injectables here.

How to Tell If Injectables Are Counterfeit

If you’re buying products off the black market, or the product comes from a foreign market, it should be obvious to you that the injectable isn’t FDA-approved (remember, the FDA only has control over American foods and drugs). In other cases, however, the product is passed off as the real deal without the patient being aware. When getting injectables, consider the following:


The Provider: “The vast majority of [licensed providers] are using legitimate products,” says Dr. Rivkin. If your medical provider isn’t credentialed or certified, go elsewhere. Even if a product is not counterfeit, it can still lead to poor results when administered by inexperienced hands. Consult this list of questions to ask to determine if your provider is credible before your consultation.


The Setting: Injectables should be administered in a sterile, clinical setting. This is a medical procedure and should be treated as such. There’s an uptick in injectable parties being held at homes, medspas, and salons, but the provider should be medically credentialed and highly experienced.


The Cost: “Getting FDA approval is expensive, so the legitimate products cost a certain amount,” explains Dr. Rivkin. “If a particular clinic’s prices are very low, there is a possibility that they are using non-FDA-approved products.” On average, treatment with injectable wrinkle reducers can cost between $400 and $600 per area treated, while fillers can range from $600 to $1,000, depending on where they are injected. If the prices are dramatically lower than these, ask your provider how they can offer such deeply discounted treatments. Getting answers to questions like that are your right as a patient, so don’t be afraid to do your homework!


The Packaging: Injectable fillers and wrinkle reducer should be taken out of an unused box straight from the FDA-approved supplier. Dr. Rivkin says, “If a patient is suspicious, they should ask for the practitioner to open the packaging of the product being used in front of them.”

Remember, with these tips, you should be able to find a credible, licensed provider in your area. Have more questions? Consult with our team of trained aesthetic specialists — they can answer your queries and help point you in the right direction.