What is BOTOX® Cosmetic?
Botox is a protein produced by a bacterium, Clostridium botulinum, which can relax muscles. It’s been used for years by opthalmologists to improve certain muscle-related eye conditions, such as when a child’s eye “looks” in the wrong direction (strabismus or “lazy eye”). Colstridium botulinum is able to relax the muscle that causes the misguided eye movement, thus correcting the problem. It’s also used for the treatment of cervical dystonia, a disorder characterized by severe muscle contractions in the neck and shoulder.
A Cosmetic Breakthrough
A decade or so ago, a Canadian husband/wife team of physicians, Alistair and Jean Carruthers, discovered that some of the people who were receiving Colstridium botulinum injections for eye problems also experienced a reduction in forehead wrinkles. Studies were undertaken, and in 2002, Botox received clearance by the Food and Drug Administartion (FDA) for the treatment of glabellar, or “frown” lines, between the eyes. It has since also received FDA approval for the treatment of hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating. Botox is sometimes used for other cosmetic purposes, but these uses are considered “off label.”
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What Botox Injections Treat
Over time, as the sun damages your skin, the temporary wrinkles that form on your forehead when you move your facial muscles may become permanent, making you look stern, tired or angry even when the underlying muscles are still. This happens because the sun degrades the skin so much that it loses its ability to “snap” back into place. Botox relaxes the muscles under those wrinkles, thus smoothing out the brow.
Some physicians use Botox very carefully around the lips. If applied in sparing amounts, Botox injections may improve wrinkles in this facial area, but there is a risk of immobilizing the lips, which is obviously not desirable.
Botox is being used with increasing frequency to relax the platysma muscle, the tightened bands of muscle in the front of the neck that become more visible with age. Botox injections can help minimize their appearance.
Botox can also improve depressed eyebrows, and it is an effective treatment for hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) of the underarms or hands.
Botox is often used in conjunction with lasers and fillers to enhance the overall results of those treatments.
What is the Treatment Like?
Botox treatments consist of a series of quick, tiny injections. No numbing anesthetic is needed, although you can request one if you’re worried about pain. Most treatments take less than 15 minutes. There’s no downtime. You can return to your daily routine immediately, although you should avoid heavy physical exercise and lying down flat for at least 4 hours.
Botox Side Effects
Botox is a safe and effective treatment when used in accordance with FDA-approved procedures. Any side effects are generally minor, if they occur at all. When side effects do occur, they’re usually the result of over-treatment. If used in excess, Botox may immobilize too much of your face – or areas of your face you don’t want immobilized, such as your lips.
Your Botox provider will discuss all the possible complications that may arise from treatment. Below is a partial review of side effects that have been reported.
- Muscle weakness
- Drooping eyelids
- Facial pain
- Heartburn and/or indigestion
- Tooth problems
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Dry mouth
- Soreness or bleeding at the site of injection
- Sore throat
Some side effects may indicate an allergic reaction. These include:
- Rash or hives
- Difficulty breathing
Seek out medical attention immediately should you experience these or any other side effects.
How Long does BOTOX Last?
The results of BOTOX—reduction in the appearance of lines and wrinkles—usually begin to appear within 3 to 7 days after treatment. Although it will vary from patient to patient, the effects tend to last up to 4 months. Follow-up treatments are then need to keep wrinkles at bay. Some evidence suggests that repeated treatments extend the time that Botox stays effective.