Botox injections are extremely popular for aesthetic enhancement of the face. While millions of injections are performed for cosmetic treatments every year in the U.S., there still are many misconceptions about what Botox is and what it does. Not everything you hear about Botox is true, but there are some facts you should know. If you have heard that Botox could cause the face to be stiff or other side effects, it is important to know which are facts, and which are fiction.
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Brief History of Botox
Botox Cosmetic is an injected serum that contains botulinum toxin A, a neurotoxin. It is derived from the same bacterium that can cause botulism, but it is only one of the strains of neurotoxins created by the bacterium. The botulinum toxin A has been studied for several decades and it was FDA-approved for human medical treatment in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, possible cosmetic uses begin to be noticed and in 2001 Botox Cosmetic was FDA-approved for the treatment of glabellar lines (11s between the eyebrows). Since then, Botox has been approved for many other cosmetic and medical treatments by the FDA.
What Does Botox Do?
The main way Botox injections work are by blocking communication from the nerves to the muscles. The neurotoxin interrupts the signal to stimulate the muscle to move or contract. This in essence paralyzes the muscles or deeply relaxes it. For cosmetic uses, this can stop the formation of certain lines and wrinkles. The most common areas are the worry and frown lines on the brow, as well as crow’s feet and bunny lines.
Botox does wear off over time. Most people begin seeing results a few days after their treatment, then notice the effects wearing off around month three or four. Those who have treatment continuously may notice they need fewer treatments after a year or two as the muscles naturally weaken and produce less of the lines or other effects Botox minimizes.
Side Effect Facts Versus Fiction
When it comes to discussing the side effects of Botox, it is important to keep in mind that most medications have possible side effects. Botox has been FDA-approved multiple times for cosmetic treatment and other medical conditions such as migraines, muscle spasms and hyperhidrosis. When injections are performed by an experienced injector, there are minimal side effects for most people.
The side effects that are most commonly reported and expected from Botox are from the injection. There may be a small amount of bruising or swelling at the injection site, but these go away quickly. Some patients may get a headache or flu-like symptoms, but these also dissipate quickly. These mild side effects are usually well-tolerated and rarely last long enough to cause any major discomfort.
Beyond the mild side effects, there are other possible issues that can occur with the use of Botox. More so, there are urban myths of Botox reactions that are either extremely rare or completely untrue. The following are some of the rumored effects and whether or not these are real possible outcomes from Botox.
Botox Can Cause Botulism
This is a myth, mostly. The main ingredient in Botox is derived from C. Botulinum, which does cause botulism. But this is a purified form of only one of the proteins, botulinum toxin A, made by the bacterium. There are no documented cases of anyone getting botulism from Botox cosmetic treatments – the injected amounts are much too small, especially the doses used for cosmetic purposes. Botulism usually is caused by food poisoning, not by an FDA-approved medication or cosmetic treatment.
Botox Spreads to Other Areas of the Face
Botox injections should be very precise to affect only the desired muscles. Can it spread to other areas of the face, causing the relaxation of muscles? It is possible but usually preventable. First of all, using the right dosage is important – less can be more when using Botox. Secondly, you want a highly experienced injector that knows the exact placement to avoid affecting other muscles. Thirdly, you should not massage or rub the area where Botox is injected for several hours. This allows time for the neurotoxin to be absorbed into the nerves -rubbing could transfer it to nearby tissue and spread it to undesired areas.
Botox Builds Up as a Toxin in Your Body
Botox does contain a neurotoxin, but it is not stored in the body. In fact, the effects of Botox are temporary, and they will wear off in about 3-4 months for most people. As the botulinum toxin A dissipates, the nerve signals begin to fire again, and the muscles will respond as they did before. Many people wish that Botox would continue working longer, but that is not the case. You will need additional treatments to maintain the effects desired.
Botox Can Cause Droopy Eyelids
If the wrong muscle is targeted when the Botox injection is placed to soften glabellar lines, it is possible that the affected eyelid could droop. Whatever muscle receives the neurotoxin can be relaxed, which is why exact placement is so important. Choose your injector carefully and you should not need to worry about droopy eyelids after your treatment.
Botox Causes a Stiff or Expressionless Face
This is probably the most commonly discussed side effect of Botox – a stiff or expressionless face caused by muscle relaxation. Can this occur? Yes, but it does not need to happen if you want to maintain natural emotion on your face. If higher doses of Botox are used, the muscles may not move as they should when you scrunch your face in disgust or laugh-out-loud. The key is using just enough Botox to diminish the lines or wrinkles, while still allowing natural emotions to be expressed. This is possible – you need to discuss your aesthetic goals with your injector and make sure you are getting the treatment you desire.
Minimize Poor Botox Results
Many of the myths about Botox were started due to bad choices in injectors. In an attempt to save money, many people went to Botox “parties” or used injectors that were not properly trained on the best techniques. Early on, there are people who had a “Botox face” that was emotionless and stiff due to high dosage or bad placement of the injection.
After over 20 years since the FDA-approval of Botox for cosmetic treatments, there are much safer and better practices for using this injection. At Arcadia Wellness Center, we have some of the best injectors in Phoenix – we have even trained many of the other injectors out there with our advanced methods. We take the time to listen to our patients and determine the best treatment to achieve their aesthetic results. If this includes Botox, we strive to use the smallest dose needed to obtain the desired effect and we are meticulously accurate with our injection placement.
If you are concerned about the side effects of Botox, but still want the desired cosmetic benefits, come see us at Arcadia Wellness Center. We can discuss all the possible options, including mini Botox, which can reduce the risk of symptoms. Call our office in Phoenix to schedule a Botox consultation or make your appointment online. Our friendly and professional aesthetic staff will provide a comprehensive review of Botox and whether it is right for you.