Botox Cosmetic was approved by the FDA in 2002 for the treatment of wrinkles known as the glabella frown lines. However, Botox had been used mostly by dermatologists since the late 90’s to treat wrinkles. Following its FDA approval for cosmetic use it quickly become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures available. Both men and women get Botox to look younger and more refreshed.
Whether you’ve had Botox before or are considering getting it for the first time, here are the ins and outs of Botox – everything you need to know.
Botox is a brand name
Just as people use the brand name Kleenex to refer to facial tissue in general, Botox is actually a
brand name of a drug from the pharmaceutical company Allergan. There are now many other competing brands on the market, like Dysport and Xeomin, but Botox is by far the best known.
Botox is safe
You may have heard that Botox is made from the same compound that causes botulism, botulinum toxin. That’s true. However, Botox is extremely safe when administered by a trained physician in a clinical setting, and the levels of the toxin in Botox are far below the levels where any toxicity could occur.
Botox is quick
Treatment sessions typically take less than 15 minutes and require no down-time afterwards. Anesthesia is not required, though some patients may receive a numbing agent if they are sensitive to injections.
See results from Botox within days
The full impact of Botox will be visible about a week after injection, but initial results are often visible within 24-48 hours.
How Botox is given and how it works
Botox is injected in small doses into muscles that cause dynamic wrinkles. These are wrinkles that are caused by the pull of the muscle underneath the skin. After being injected, Botox relaxes the muscles, leading to smoother skin.
Where people get Botox
The most common areas to get Botox injected are:
- Between the brows (to address glabella frown lines, or what we call “the 11s”)
- Crow’s feet
- Marionette or “puppet lines”
Botox also works well to control excessive sweating and can be injected in the armpits for this reason, as well.
How long Botox lasts
Botox is not a permanent solution to wrinkles. The underlying muscles will regain full function and the overlying skin will return to its previous appearance somewhere between 3-4 months after treatment, at which point another treatment can be administered.
Botox works well in combination with filler
By itself, Botox works best on shallow wrinkles and creases. For deeper lines, a combination of Botox plus a filler like Juvéderm or Restylane is best. The Botox relaxes the muscle while the filler helps to lift, for an overall smoother appearance. Even better, when Botox is combined with filler, the results are immediate. Filler lifts right away, meaning that patients walk out looking better already.
Side effects of Botox
The most common side effects of Botox include:
- Swelling around the eye
- Drooping of the eyelid or brow
Allergic reactions can occur but are rare.
Avoid the over-Botoxed face
When done right, it’s impossible to tell someone’s had Botox. They may just look “fresher” or more youthful. When overdone, Botox can lead to telltale signs of the procedure, such as a frozen face and lack of emotional expression. Too much Botox in the forehead can lead to heavy eyelids, while too much around the eyebrows can lead to a look of constant surprise.
Unfortunately, when this happens, there’s no way to reverse it, so the only alternative is to wait for it to naturally dissipate over time as it would anyway.
Great results are about the provider, not the product
Botox is very safe and effective when administered in a clinical setting by someone with the right training and experience. It’s always important to remember, though, that Botox itself is a serious drug and when used incorrectly, it can have unwanted consequences, including less-than-stellar results.
I remind my patients that cosmetic procedures like the kind I offer, including Botox, are not commodities the way that Kleenex are. Your experience with Botox can differ greatly from provider to provider because the results are dependent not on the product, but on the skill of the person giving it to you. A medical professional knows the underlying anatomy including the muscles to target as well as the nerves and tissues to avoid. Someone with experience will have a feel for how many units to use to maintain a natural look, and where exactly to inject to maintain symmetry and harmony in the face. For these reasons, I encourage anyone considering Botox to go to a board certified dermatologist or other aesthetically trained doctor’s office for Botox injections.
Now that you know the ins and outs of Botox, I hope you feel more confident in moving forward with treatment if it’s right for you.