These days Botox has become a household name; no doubt, the celebrity factor has played a big part in this. However, despite everyone knowing what it is, most people have no idea about what is it made of and how it actually works. This is especially true of those considering the procedure for the first time.
The confusion in the prospective patients about the benefits and risks of Botox is not just because of the media hype, but also due to the glut of misinformation that can be found on the Internet.
The purpose of this article is, therefore, to provide evidence-based information on Botox ― and at the same time dispel some myths surrounding the procedure.
Table of Contents
- What is Botox and how does it work?
- What is Botox used for?
- Does Botox hurt?
- Is there a specific age requirement for Botox injections?
- What is the difference between Botox treatment in men and women?
- how many units you really need?
- How long does Botox last for?
- Downtime: How will you look immediately after the shot?
- Is there any differences between Botox injections and Dermal Fillers
- What are the adverse reactions of Botox?
- Does Botox work?
What is Botox?
Botox is actually the trade name of a neurotoxin (botulinum toxin), which is made from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Injections containing this toxin mostly work by relaxing or paralyzing certain muscles or by obstructing the activity of certain nerves.
The mechanism of action of botulinum neurotoxin is complex. When Botox is injected into a target area of the skin, a series of events occur within the body. As a result, a neuromuscular blocking effect is produced and the release of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in activating muscles) is inhibited. These actions ultimately result in temporary paralysis of the targeted muscle.
What does Botox do?Botox injections are efficient in minimizing unwanted facial lines such as wrinkles caused by the aging process. These injections are typically used to correct cosmetic issues such as forehead wrinkles, frown lines, and crow’s feet. They can also be used to make the jaw line appear slimmer, combat excessive sweating in the palms, feet, and underarms, and treat migraines and cervical dystonia.
Does it hurt?Most patients compare Botox injections to acupuncture, rating it as much less painful as a traditional injection. However, there can be some mild discomfort if the procedure is applied directly to frown lines. In this case, your specialist can recommend and apply a topical anesthetic.
Is there an age limit for Botox?There isn't any specific age limit for those who want to take Botox injections. However, qualified professionals generally will not treat anyone under the age of 18, unless it is to treat a specific medical condition.
Wrinkles or other facial issues are major problems for older adults, as it starts to show up with aging. Individuals under 18 years of age are too young, so there is little or no chance of having facial issues like wrinkles.
There’s also not an upper age limit either. In most cases, the only difference in age is how the treatment is applied, or the amount of Botox needed for a specific condition. Outside of that, age is rarely a consideration. In fact, Botox tends to have more dramatic and visible effects on older people.
Difference between Botox treatment in men and women
- Physiological difference. To achieve desired results, men require a higher dosage of Botox as compared to women, especially around the eyes and the forehead. The main reason behind this is that there is a physiological difference between the facial muscle strength and skin thickness of men and women.
- Aesthetic difference. Cosmetic treatments for men and women differ aesthetically. For example, most females want a pronounced arch in their eyebrow to enhance their looks. Botox treatment is more subtle in males and most of them just want to erase obvious signs of aging without giving up their distinguished appearances. Hence, different techniques of injecting Botox are employed to maintain gender specificity.
How many units of Botox are needed?Every person is different in his/her biological setup. Depending on the individual skin characteristics, some may require more of the neurotoxin while some will need less.
If you want to take the shots, it is important for you to discuss the treatment with a qualified cosmetic surgeon. Your surgeon can best advise you of any associated risks with the treatment. Following up as required by your doctor will allow them to assess and better measure future Botox applications to achieve your desired look.
How long does it last?In general, The results of Botox injections can take five to fourteen days to show the effects. Your eyes and forehead furrows will become noticeably reduced within a couple of days after the procedure.
Patients are advised to follow up with their doctors two to three weeks after the shot. This will allow the doctor to check the results and note the effects of botox for future treatments.
The effects of Botox injections are not permanent; hence, recipients require repeated shots to retain the effects. By about the third month only 50% of the treatment effects will still be visible. Within 4 months that will drop to 20%, and by 6 months, there will be no visible changes.
To maintain the effects, you may require taking the shots at least 2-3 times a year.
The downtime and appearance right after treatmentFor most patients, how they will look immediately after the procedure is their primary concern.
Right after a shot, the muscles around the injected area will be temporarily paralyzed. This temporary paralyzing effect will make you unable to frown, squint your eyes or raise your eyebrows. Hence, makeup should not be worn for at least three hours following a Botox treatment.
Some people may notice tiny red spots around the injected area, but these quickly fade away. In most cases, they’re gone by the time you get home.
Botox and fillers: Is there a difference?Many people just assume that all outpatient cosmetic procedures are more or less the same when in fact they are quite different. The most common two are Botox and Dermal Fillers, and both of which are used for aesthetic purposes on an outpatient basis.
Botox is a small injection that removes wrinkles, while Dermal Fillers are a more invasive procedure that involves injecting artificial fillers under the skin. The differences, however, not end there. Botox has many uses over and above the aesthetic ones. Also, new research is being carried out with regards to using Botox for headaches and migraines, asthma and even weight loss.
Dermal Fillers, while also used for cosmetic procedures, are completely different. They’re a gel-like substance that is injected under the skin, either filling it in and stretching it tight, or reshaping it altogether. The most common procedure is lip injections, which women around the world use to increase the size of their lips.
Side effects of BotoxThe most common side effect of Botox injections is a 24-hour headache. About 10% of first time patients will experience this. Other side effects include mild bruising, and less commonly, a slightly droopy appearance. These are mild side effects, and generally short term. If you have any concerns, simply contact your specialist. That’s what they’re there for.
Is there anything to worry about?Botox and Dermal Fillers are usually considered risk free, although there are considerations unique to each individual, which should be discussed with a qualified medical professional.
For Botox injections, improper treatment can cause undesirable facial expressions. In particular, the eyelids and eyebrows can droop. While this is rare and clears up relatively quickly in most cases, no one wants to walk down the aisle looking like they’re asleep.
Because of this, if you’re considering Botox for a special event such as an engagement, wedding, or business meeting, it should be done at least two weeks before the big date. In fact, the more advance time you plan, the better it will be.
As for Dermal Fillers, generally speaking, the worst that can happen is an infection. In this case, antibiotics are used. Obviously, the desired change in appearance won’t likely be achieved.
A more serious concern, though rare, is that the fillers may interfere with blood vessels in the skin, possibly causing scans or scarring. These are rare occurrences, but they are considerations when looking into cosmetic procedures.