Efficacy and possible mechanisms of botulinum toxin treatment of oily skin

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2019 Apr;18(2):451-457. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12866. Epub 2019 Jan 29.


Background: Oily skin is one of the most common dermatological complaints. Oily skin may be accompanied by enlarged pores, acne, and seborrheic dermatitis. Moreover, oily skin has negative effects on self-perception. Most therapeutic approaches used to treat oily skin have had varying degrees of efficacy and include topical treatments, such as photodynamic therapy and lasers. However, certain of these therapies for oily skin may lead to severe side effects. With the expanding use and high safety profile of botulinum toxin type A (BoNT-A), its use in the treatment of oily skin has caused significant concerns; moreover, relevant reports have gradually accumulated to address the efficacy of BoNT-A and explore its mechanisms of action.

Aims: The objective of this article was to review the efficacy and possible treatment mechanisms of BoNT-A on oily skin.

Methods: A retrospective review of the published data was conducted.

Results: Most studies have suggested that the intradermal injection of BoNT-A decreased sebum production and pore size. Furthermore, this treatment attained high patient satisfaction without significant side effects. BoNT-A effectively decreased sebum production and excretion, which was in keeping with previous studies, possibly via its blockade of cholinergic signaling and its neuromodulatory effects.

Conclusions: Intradermal BoNT-A injection may represent a promising new treatment for oily skin and other relevant dermatological problems, such as enlarged pores, acne, and seborrheic dermatitis. Further study is still needed to determine the specific mechanisms of BoNT-A and the optimal injection techniques and doses for oily skin and other relevant cosmetic concerns.

Keywords: efficacy; oily skin; sebaceous gland; sebum; toxin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A / administration & dosage*
  • Dermatitis, Seborrheic / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intradermal / methods
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sebum / metabolism*
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A