Botox is a popular cosmetic treatment used to improve the appearance of wrinkles and facial folds. These age lines are a natural part of getting older and are caused by daily facial expressions like frowning or smiling. Botox refers to a variety of solutions called neuromodulators that paralyze facial muscles to prevent wrinkles to yield a more youthful look.
Part of the reason why Botox is so popular is that it is non-surgical, site-specific, quick, and effective. Botox injections can be administered in just a few minutes and will not interfere with plans after. Even better, there exists a wide variety of neuromodulators to satisfy specific cosmetic goals.
What is Botox?
Also known as “onabotulinum toxin A” and as “botulinum toxin type A,” botox is a type of neurotoxin that comes from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This toxin interferes with nerve synapses and prevents transmission of signals necessary for muscle contraction. The result is semi-permanent muscle paralysis.
The botulinum toxin has many uses in the clinical setting including the treatment of muscle spasms like cervical dystonia and eye twitching. It may also be used to treat excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis.
In a cosmetic setting, botox injections are used to paralyze small areas of certain facial muscles that cause wrinkles and make us look older. Common areas include the forehead, frown lines, crows feet (the outer corners of the eyes), and smile lines. Choosing which muscles to target may depend on specific cosmetic goals and practitioner recommendations.
There are three main formulations on the market: Botox Cosmetic, Dysport, and Xeomin. All three contain the same active ingredient (botulinum toxin type A) and are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Slight differences between these formulations have to do with the concentration of the active ingredient and how they behave (or “spread”) once administered.
A practitioner may recommend a specific formulation based on cosmetic goals and the area(s) being targeted. It is important to ask your practitioner questions about these products in case you are confused or concerned.
Q: How deep are the injections? Will they hurt?
A: Botox injections are not deep and are applied with a very thin needle. Most patients describe the feeling as nothing more than “a small pinch.”
Q: How quickly will I see results?
A: A common misconception about Botox is that its results are immediate, they are not. It takes a bit of time after the injection has been administered to see its full effects. Results are typically seen within 7 days but can vary from person to person.
Q: How long will the results last?
A: This depends largely on the site injected and the individual patient. Results are typically good for about three to six months before touchup is needed to maintain the effects.
Q: Which brand of injection should I get?
A: Recommendations on which of the three formulations to use (Botox Cosmetic, Dysport, or Xeomin) will vary depending on cosmetic goals. It is important to communicate with the administering practitioner about your needs and ask questions about their recommendations.
Q: What are the risks?
A: Botox injection is a rather minor procedure with very minimal risks. Still, practitioners and patients should be careful and cover medical history (including allergies and past procedures) before going forward. Minor bruising or swelling may occur but are usually minimal.
Q: If Botox works by paralyzing the muscles, will I lose the ability to make facial expressions?
A: Not to worry. A skilled practitioner will administer Botox extremely precisely and in very small amounts in order to preserve the face’s ability to make expressions. We also highly recommend that patients always schedule a followup appointment in order to treat/prevent any unwanted tension or “frozen” look to the face.
The most important way to ensure safe, effective, and natural-looking Botox results is to always research and vet your practitioners. Do your homework, read reviews, and get informed before deciding on a specific administrator. During your consultation, be sure to communicate and questions and concerns you have before going through with the procedure. Interested in receiving Botox? Save big at our monthly Botox Happy Hour!
- Flynn, Timothy Corcoran. “Botulinum Toxin.” SpringerLink, Springer International Publishing, 26 Aug. 2012, https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/11530110-000000000-00000.
- Said, S, et al. Botulinum Toxin A: Its Expanding Role in Dermatology and …Am J Clin Dermatol. , 2003, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10606965_Botulinum_toxin_A_Its_expanding_role_in_dermatology_and_esthetics.