Are You a Good Candidate?
Candidates include adult men and women who are in good overall health. You should not undergo Botox injections if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Most patients undergo treatment because they are looking to reduce the signs of aging. It is often recommended as a non-surgical alternative to a face lift or brow lift. Some of the facial lines and wrinkles that can be treated with injections include:
- Horizontal forehead creases
- Laugh lines (from the nose to the corners of the mouth)
- Frown lines between the eyebrows
Botox can be used on most lines caused by movement of the facial muscles. However, it is ineffective against those caused by sagging skin, gravity, or sun exposure. In addition to these cosmetic uses, it is also used to treat health conditions such as uncontrolled blinking.
The procedure is typically performed in the doctor’s office. Treatment does not require any type of anesthesia, although some doctors offer topical or local anesthesia upon request. Once the skin has been cleansed, the doctor will inject each targeted facial muscle with the solution. The entire treatment session lasts less than an hour.
Following the injection, the toxin contained in the solution blocks signals sent from the nerve to the muscle. As a result, the muscles are unable to contract; it is this contraction that wrinkles the skin lying over the muscle. With the muscles relaxed, the wrinkles become smooth.
Complications & Risks
This procedure is relatively safe, if performed by an experienced doctor. However, as with all medical procedures, there are some possible complications. While rare, these are cause for concern. You should call your doctor if you experience:
- Muscle weakness in areas other than the treated skin
- Vision issues
- Difficulty swallowing, speaking, or breathing
- Allergic reaction (itching, hives, chest tightness, severe swelling)
If the injected Botox migrates to other areas of the body, it can cause slight numbness or, rarely, signs and symptoms of botulism. Another risk is an unnaturally ‘frozen’ appearance due to paralysis of the muscles involved in facial expressions.
Botox is known as a ‘lunchtime procedure’ because patients can return to their daily activities, including work, immediately. There are no incisions, sutures, or bandages required. Side effects are mild, and may include bruising, swelling, or redness around the injection site, as well as minor headaches. Patients must avoid laying down for four hours or rubbing the treated area for twelve hours, as this can cause the injected solution to migrate to other areas of the body.
Most patients find that the results of treatment are visible for about four to six months. Gradually, the treated muscles regain their ability to contract, and the wrinkles reappear. Many patients choose to return for follow up injections in order to maintain the results.
How Much Does it Cost?
The cost of Botox depends on your geographic region, the doctor chosen, the amount of solution needed to achieve the desired results, and other factors. Different doctors in the same town may charge different fees for the same injections. On average each treatment session is around $500. When used for cosmetic purposes, Botox injections are not covered by health insurance. However, many doctors offer financing options and flexible payment plans to make this treatment more affordable.
- Injectable Fillers: Author: Deborah Yu, MD; Chief Editor Deepak Narayan, MD FRCS
- FDA Botox Label (n.d.)
- Botox Clinical Trial (n.d.)
- Botox (n.d.)