Botulinum toxin, commonly called Botox, is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments used to treat signs of an aging face.
It works by paralyzing (flaccid paralysis) the facial muscles or blocking signals from the nerves to certain muscles to cosmetically reduce and counter wrinkles or facial creases that appear as part of the aging process.
What is Botox?
It is a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, a type of bacteria that prevents the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine at the junction between two connecting nerve endings which is responsible for transmitting signals between neurons.
By disrupting the nerve-to-nerve signaling pathway, Botox blocks signals from the nerves to the muscles. It is also used to treat cervical dystonia (neck spasms), hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), bladder dysfunction , lazy eyes, chronic migraines, muscle contractures or eye twitching and other conditions that are caused by neuromuscular anomalies.
What Are the Side Effects and complications of Botox?
Botox injections have cosmetic advantages but they have some common side effects which include:
- Temporary bruising, bleeding, swelling or pain at injection site
- Dryness in eyes or excessive teary eyes
- Eyelids drooping
- Dizziness and drooling
In some cases, it might be possible for the toxin to spread in the body, although this is quite rate. However, you should visit the doctor if you experience muscle weakness, vision or breathing problems, loss of bladder control, trouble speaking or swallowing following Botox treatment.
How Is Botox treatment performed?
Botox injections to lessen the appearance of facial wrinkles are administered by using a fine needle to inject a tiny amount of botulinum toxin into the skin or specific muscles. This injected Botox blocks the nerve signal pathway to the muscle, inducing a form of localized muscle paralysis. Since the muscle cannot contract, the appearance of wrinkles is minimized. The resulting shrinkage or atrophy of the particular muscle tissue due to inactivity further helps smoothen the facial contours.
This treatment doesn’t require anesthesia.
It is used usually for wrinkles and creases that appear in the following areas of the face:
- Glabellar lines (frown lines between the eyebrows)
- Horizontal forehead lines
- Crow’s feet (at the sides of the eyes)
- Marionette lines (at the corners of the mouth)
- Smoker’s lines (around the lips)
It usually takes one to two weeks to notice the full effect of Botox as it takes time for the nerve impulses to be blocked and for the muscles to contract. Though the wrinkles and facial creases gradually appear to diminish because of the shrinking of the muscles, further injections are required to maintain the results.
Botox injections are therefore not a permanent solution to wrinkles resolution and the effects of each round of injections lasts for approximately three to six months.
Under what conditions should you avoid Botox treatment?
Botox treatment should be avoided in people who have conditions which include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Lambert-Eaton syndrome
- During pregnancy or breastfeeding
- Allergies through cow’s milk
- Neurological diseases
- Allergic to any composition in Botox
- Skin infection in the injection area
- Asthma or breathing problems
- Swallowing difficulties or bleeding issues
- Upcoming surgery or any facial surgery in past
- Weak forehead muscles or drooping eyelids
How frequently should you get Botox injections?
The effect of the Botox injection usually lasts for three to four months but this can vary based on the following factors:
- Dosage of the Botulinum toxin injected
- Age as there is less muscle tone in younger people
- Firmness of facial muscles, facial structure and expressions
- Smoking habits, diet and skin tone
- Tanning or damage caused by the sun
- Frequent usage of Botox
It is recommended not to have repeated injections at the same site within less than a period of at least three to four months because the immune system can develop antibodies to the medication which can cause the treatment to be less effective and may also trigger allergic reactions to the drug.
How do you minimize the side effects of Botox?
To help prevent and minimize Botox side effects, you should take the following certain precautions:
Choosing the right doctor: Treatment should only be performed by a licensed medical practitioner who is experienced at administering Botox injections.
Inform your doctor about all your existing medical conditions and medication regimen: Your doctor should know about your health problems, ongoing medications, vitamins or intake of any herbal supplements as some of these might interact adversely with Botox.
Follow pre-and post-injection instructions carefully in order to minimize the risk of possible side effects and complications. The following instructions are generally provided by the doctor that administers your injections:
- Avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or high doses of vitamin E for around 10-15 days prior to procedure as it may cause increase risk of bleeding and bruising at the treated site(s).
- Avoid alcohol consumption, exposure to sun, waxing, bleaching or use of any hair removal creams in the area to be treated
- Eat a small meal or snack before the treatment
Post treatment Instructions
- Avoid facials and exposure to saunas, hot tub or tanning the day of treatment as all of these increase the risk of bruising
- For the first few hours after the treatment practice squinting, frowning or raising eyebrows to let the injected muscles work
- Avoid strenuous exercises, lying down or leaning forward, touching, rubbing or massaging at injected site for at least 4 hours after treatment
- Avoid any type of facial, microderm abrasion, or massage for 14 days after the treatment
- Avoid medicines like Ibuprofen, Advil or Motrin. Tylenol can be taken in case of any discomfort or headache
- Apply sunscreen every day
What is the cost of Botox treatment?
The cost of Botox treatment depends greatly by location, the dosage of Botox injected in each round of treatment and the number of repeat rounds of injections desired in order to maintain the results. Typically, each round or session of injections contains between 50 to 200 units of BOTOX® Cosmetic and the price of treatment is based on a fixed cost per unit of Botox injected.
The estimated cost of Botox injections in the Unites States ranges between $10 and $20 per unit implying that for a typical dosage of ten to twenty units per treatment area per session, the cost per session will range anywhere from $100 to $400. In UK the estimated cost is around £150-£350 per treatment area per session, depending on the amount of product used.
The cost of Botox treatment also depends on strength, position and size of the muscles at the injection site as well as gender of the patient.
The glabella region, the vertical lines between the eyebrows usually requires around 20 to 35 units of Botox injections per session. The Frontalis muscle, (horizontal lines on forehead) requires between 6 to 20 units of Botox per session. Treatment of Crow’s feet (lateral canthal lines around eyes) requires around 6 to 15 units. Treatment of one area can be paired with other areas required to be injected and a treatment session is typically repeated every three to four months.