X

Botox – All Facts, Side Effects, Treatments and More

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.

What is Botox?

A trade name for a neurotoxic protein called botulinum toxin, Botox is a product of Clostridium botulinum. The protein causes botulism in large doses. Botulism is a rare paralytic illness that is usually associated with food poisoning. The protein is also used in cosmetic medicine to treat* several conditions, including severe brow furrow (also known as glabellar lines), uncontrollable blinking, lazy eye, wrinkles and facial creases. A small amount of diluted botulinum toxin is used during these procedures. It enables controlled weakening of the muscles. Botulinum toxin is sold commercially under several different names, including Botox, BTXA, Dysport, Myobloc, Neurobloc, Xeomin, Botox Cosmetic and Vistabel.

How Does Botox Work?

The science behind Botox is simple. It blocks nerve impulses by relaxing the contraction of muscles. This causes the muscle to no longer be able to contract. Wrinkles will relax and soften. Patients see cosmetic improvement within two to four days and the effects last anywhere from four to six months. The majority of patients will need to seek retreatment in order to remove* wrinkles and lines once they reappear. With each injection, the wrinkles return less* severely as the muscles are retrained to relax. Botox procedures are outpatient procedures that do not require anesthesia and can be performed rather quickly. The protein is injected into the muscle. Patients are recommended to avoid alcohol one week before the procedure. Patients are also recommended to stop* using aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications two weeks prior to treatment to help minimize bruising.

Are Botox Treatments Safe?

When considering Botox treatments, the big question is whether or not a toxic substance can be good for your skin. Patients should know that Botox is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat* a number of conditions. In order to gain FDA approval, the treatment must undergo several tests to prove that it is safe.

Botox Side Effects

Botox can have some very dangerous side effects. If the paralyzation spreads beyond the intended area, it can be deadly. There is always the possibility of an allergic reaction or other irritations to the skin. Common side effects include bruising, swelling and unevenness at the injection site.

Can You Avoid Botox Side Effects?

If done improperly, Botox injections can cause side effects. Good plastic surgeons should begin patients on a lower dose, adjusting as they go until the desired results have been reached. Not just anyone can inject Botox. The person doing the injection must have a clear understanding of the anatomy of the facial muscles, particularly around the eye area. Injecting the right amount of Botox is critical, as well as injecting in the right places. This will help patients avoid side effects. Make sure your plastic surgeon is examining your eyes in order to determine if you have a compensated preexisting eyelid ptosis. If you do, Botox® injected in the frontalis will reveal this. No preexisting ptosis means that the Botox injection may cause paralysis of the levator palpebrae.

You can avoid the need for Botox all together by using preventative measures and a combination off anti-wrinkle cream. Keep in mind that not all creams are created equal. Take a look at some of our other wrinkle articles for further information about what creams work best and how to choose the right cream.

Who is Not a Candidate for Botox?

Although Botox is approved by the FDA, it is not safe for everyone. It is only approved for patients between the ages of 18 and 65. If you are any of the following, you should not use Botox injections:

  • Allergic to ingredients associated with Botox or Botox Cosmetics
  • Allergic to another botulinum toxin brand
  • Suffer from a skin infection or other conditions at the injection site
  • Suffer from ALS, myasthenia gravis, Labert-Eaton Syndrome or other diseases that affect your muscles or nerves
  • Suffer from breathing problems, such as asthma
  • Have difficulty swallowing
  • Have bleeding issues
  • Plan on having facial surgery or has had facial surgery previously
  • Suffer from weakened forehead muscles
  • Have dropping eyelids
  • Are taking or have previously taken medications, vitamins or supplements that are not recommended to be taken in conjunction with Botox

What Do You Do After Receiving Botox Injections?

Botox injections are a non-surgical procedure, so no recovery time is needed. You can easily go back to your regular activities immediately after the procedure. You may experience some light bruising and a mild headache is common. Patients who are taking aspirin or other blood thinning medications may experience darker bruising. If possible, these medications should be avoided two weeks prior to receiving an injection. You may also experience muscle weakness anywhere from two to ten days after the procedure. The effect is not immediate.

How Long Does Botox Last and How Often Can I Receive Injections?

You should see some results within two to three days, however, for the final result, it will take anywhere from five to seven days. Some areas may take as long as two weeks. It typically takes from three to seven days for the muscles to start restricting. Lines will continue to improve* for one month. Results can last up to six months, but most people see results for three to four months. The length of time the results lasts varies from person to person, so how often you receive injections may vary too. Most individuals receive treatments every three to four months. This is something you should discuss with your doctor.

Can Botox Prevent Wrinkles?

According to WebMD, Botox injections can prevent dynamic wrinkles from becoming worse. This is because the less* you use your facial muscles, the less* chance wrinkles have to form.

Best Wrinkle Cream After Botox

No facial cream is given after a Botox procedure. Doctors don’t have a specific cream they recommend for aftercare. Instead, keep your face looking healthy by avoiding sun damage. Wear sunblock and choose a good facial cleanser, moisturizer and exfoliant.

Conclusion

Botox injections are not for everyone. Speak to a plastic surgeon about the benefits of Botox® and whether or not it is the right treatment for you.