When you are considering Botox for frown lines, hyperhidrosis, migraines, or any other treatment, you may wonder whether it’s safe. After all, it does contain a neuro “toxin,” which sounds scary. What you may not know is that the main ingredient in Botox has been studied for over a century and it has been safely used for many medical and cosmetic treatments for decades. If you have doubts about Botox, first research the facts about this versatile treatment.
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What Is Botox?
Let us start with the basics. Is Botox a neurotoxin? Yes, the main ingredient is derived from C. botulinum, which is the bacterium that can cause botulism. This bacterium is found in some raw foods as it is found naturally in soil. It is best known for causing foodborne illness when food is not cooked completely, and the bacterium is ingested. But C. botulinum can also enter the body through wounds and injections.
- botulinum creates several neurotoxins. These have been labeled A-H, including botulinum toxin A, which is the ingredient used in Botox. Only five of these neurotoxins can cause disease in humans, which does include botulinum toxin A. These substances can affect the nervous system, which can be dangerous in their raw, live form.
- botulinum toxin was identified in the late 1800s and botulinum toxin A was isolated and purified in the 1920s. Over the decades, this neurotoxin was carefully studied due to its unique effects on the nervous system. The disruption of nerve communication to the targeted muscle to cause a paralyzing effect had possible benefits, which were uncovered over the years.
How BTX-A Works
Purified botulinum toxin A is very different than the whole bacterium. When used in small doses and injected into specific muscles, it has been used safely for decades. The neurotoxin blocks nerve terminals and affects the release of acetylcholine, which impacts the muscle. These neuromuscular effects are what intrigued researchers and made Botox what it is today.
The first medical use for purified botulinum toxin A was for eye spasms – it was approved by the FDA in 1989 for certain eye spasms. In 2000, it was FDA approved for cervical dystonia. In 2001, Botox began its journey to becoming a household name when it was approved by the FDA for the treatment of frown lines, hyperhidrosis and other uses.
The key to Botox’s success is its ability to relax a targeted muscle safely. The injections contain a tiny amount of the neuromodulator and usually take up to a week to take effect. The effects are temporary – Botox relaxes the muscles for about 3-4 months before the neurotoxin wears off. For frown lines, the “11s” that occur between the eyebrows, the injections relax the muscles that create these dynamic lines. Some of the other cosmetic treatments include:
– Worry lines. Smoothing the horizontal lines across the forehead by relaxing the muscle contractions.
– Crow’s feet. Minimizing the crinkled wrinkles on the outside of the eyes by stopping muscle movement.
– Reshaping the nose. Relaxing certain muscles can raise the nasal tip or smooth nasal sidewall lines (bunny lines).
– Masseter reduction. Relaxing the large jaw (masseter) muscles can allow the muscles to shrink, slimming and feminizing the shape of the jaw and face.
– Neck lines/cords. Relaxing the neck muscles can reduce prominent neck cords or horizontal lines.
– Lip enhancement. A “lip flip” can be performed by relaxing certain muscles in the upper lip with Botox to turn it outward for a fuller appearance.
– Chin dimples. Botox can reduce the “orange peel” appearance of chin dimples.
There are more and more cosmetic uses for Botox injections, but it also has many medical uses. Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating can be effectively treated with Botox. Migraines can be reduced for many people with Botox treatments. Millions of Botox injections are given every year in the U.S., but there are some people who still wonder if they are safe.
Are There Possible Side Effects from Botox?
Almost any medication can have side effects in some people. From OTC medications like aspirin and acetaminophen to prescription drugs and cosmetic treatments, many substances can have reactions, including serious allergic reactions. Botox is no different – there are possible side effects that may occur, but any serious side effects are extremely rare. The most common side effects, which are still rare, from cosmetic treatments include the following:
- Flu-like symptoms (headache, muscle aches)
- Injection site reactions (swelling, bruising, redness, etc.)
- Facial weakness
- Respiratory problems – these are very rare, and patients should seek medical attention
- Seizures – also very rare, and patients should seek medical attention
For most people, swelling or bruising from the injection is the most likely negative side effect. The incidence of other effects is very low, and most side effects dissipate quickly. The popularity of Botox speaks to the minimal side effects experienced – many people have been using Botox for years without any health concerns.
Safe Botox Treatments
There are ways to minimize possible side effects from Botox. First and foremost, Botox injections should only be given by an experienced medical professional. While you can receive Botox injections through many facilities and businesses, you want to ensure they are well vetted before you receive your treatments. Exact placement and correct dosage by an experienced injector can reduce the risk of most possible side effects.
Swelling, bruising, redness, tenderness, and headaches are the most common effects and if these do occur, they usually are gone within a few days. To reduce these effects, you can apply a cold compress gently to the treatment area. A few other tips to reduce the side effects of Botox injections include:
– Do not rub or massage the area of the injection. This can spread the neurotoxin to other areas in the first two days after treatment.
– Avoid blood thinners or blood-thinning substances (aspirin, alcohol) for a few days after treatment to reduce possible bruising and swelling.
– Sleep with your face elevated for the first few days to minimize bruising and swelling.
– Minimize vigorous activities for 1-2 days to help reduce swelling and bruising.
Most of the prevention of side effects is focused on the injection site reactions since that is the most common. By following a few minor adjustments post-treatment, you can minimize the chance of bruising, swelling, tenderness or itching at the injection sites.
Safe Botox Cosmetic Treatments
If you have had doubts about whether Botox injections are right for you, this information may help you decide whether you are ready to try this incredible product. At Arcadia Wellness Center, we have experienced injectors that are some of the most skilled in the Phoenix, AZ area, creating beautiful, safe results for our patients. We use the lowest Botox dose possible with precision placement of the injection to achieve the desired results.
Botox and other botulinum toxin A injections are the most used cosmetic medical treatment in the U.S. To learn more about Botox Cosmetic and whether it is right for you, come see us at Arcadia Wellness Center. Call our facility in Phoenix to schedule a Botox consultation today!