Western sanctions against Russia have taken their toll on whole sectors of the economy as retaliation for President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. But the sanctions also may have a more personal impact on Putin -- a potential cutback in deliveries of Botox to Russia.

While there is no specific prohibition on Botox shipments to Russia, current sanctions have curtailed the delivery of many types of drugs from the West. Eli Lily and Co., Novartis and Abbvie Inc., the owner of the Botox treatment, are among the main companies to scale back their operations in Russia so far. Without deliveries of Botox on the horizon, AbbVie will not be replenishing the Kremlin's supplies any time soon.

After the invasion of Ukraine began, AbbVie announced that it would be suspending its operations in Russia and Ukraine, but that it would be working to minimize disruption to the "treatment and care of our patients" in the region.

In the Kremlin, Putin has surrounded himself with many former employees of the KGB
In the Kremlin, Putin has surrounded himself with many former employees of the KGB AFP / DMITRY KOSTYUKOV

It has been a rumor for years that Putin, who is 69, has been using Botox for at least the last decade.

Ironically, the first time that it was speculated that Putin used Botox came during a 2011 visit to Ukraine. During that trip as Russia’s Prime Minister, keen-eyed observers noticed a suspicious bruise above one of Putin’s eyes which some suggested was proof of recent plastic surgery.

Naturally, the Kremlin has denied that Putin has ever undergone any plastic surgery or is a user of Botox. After speculation began after the Kyiv visit, his press secretary said that the picture that prompted the speculation just caught a bad angle during a long trip.

“There are no bruises there,” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said at the time. “He was just really tired after several flights and extra meetings. Also, the light may have fallen on him in an unfortunate manner.”

Putin, a highly image-conscious world leader, has made displays of vigor and masculinity a central part of his public persona, often appearing bare-chested in photos.

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