Botox is a popular neurotoxin that can safely reduce the signs of aging in the face. Although it gets a bad rap because it is made from the botulinum toxin — the same toxin responsible for botulism, Botox has few side effects and has been used safely for clinical applications since the late 1970s. Botox softens lines and wrinkles, particularly in the forehead and around the mouth and eyes. How does Botox really work, and is it right for you?
Botox is derived from botulinum toxin, which in large doses can cause serious side effects, including paralysis. However, it is this exact side effect that resulted in scientists discovering a way to dilute and purify the toxin to be used in small amounts for human benefit. Botox works by disrupting the pathways between the nerves and the muscles. This prevents the muscles from moving and contracting, which, over time, causes wrinkles and fine lines to soften and relax.
Botox is most often used around the mouth (glabellar lines), in between the eyebrows (frown lines) and around the eyes (crow's feet). When injected in small amounts in these areas, the muscles become immobile, and the skin cannot crease. It takes an experienced hand to administer just enough Botox to be effective without creating a “frozen” look. Too much Botox can result in a reduction of the face's ability to convey emotion, which is another well-known, but relatively rare side effect of Botox. With an experienced physician, there's truly nothing to worry about.
Botox can also be used in other medical applications. It can help reduce frequent muscle spasms, uncontrollable blinking and migraines.
Like many non-surgical cosmetic procedures, Botox only lasts for so long. About four to six months is the average, however, some patients have noticed results lasting much longer. Touch-ups are needed more frequently at the start of treatment; however, as treatment continues, results may last longer as the facial muscles are being conditioned to stay relaxed.
The side effects of a Botox treatment are minimal and typically resolve within a few days. Some patients notice no side effects at all other than minor discomfort during the procedure as the fine needle is inserted gently into the skin. The most common side effect of a Botox treatment is mild bruising, which can be reduced by avoiding alcohol, aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications that can thin the blood up to two weeks prior to treatment. Rarer side effects are headaches, which resolve in up to 48 hours, or a drooping eyelid, which resolves in a few weeks.
Drooping of the eyelid often occurs when the botulinum toxin moves from the area in which it was injected, so it's important not to touch or rub the area for several hours after the procedure. Stay upright for a few hours as well. Your physician will give you more detailed information about aftercare, but be sure to ask questions if there's anything you're unsure about.
Most everyone can enjoy the benefits of Botox treatments, however, pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid Botox until they have given birth or discontinued breastfeeding. Patients with neurological conditions may not be good candidates for Botox, so consult with your doctor before having a Botox procedure if you do have a neurological condition.
Botox has been around for a long time, unlike newer neurotoxins and dermal fillers. You can trust the science behind Botox and how it works to smooth facial skin and restore a youthful appearance. For more information about Botox or to schedule a consultation to find out if Botox is the right treatment for you, contact Walker Family Care at (843) 280-8333 or request an appointment online. We're available now to help you meet your cosmetic goals.