What Is Botox?
Botox® is an injectable medical aesthetic treatment that has been studied extensively and approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as analogous agencies in 77 other countries. Since its FDA clearance in 2002, 10.9 million vials have been sold. As a result, it is one of the most celebrated present-day cosmetic injectables for anti-wrinkle treatment.
How Does It Work?
Botox works by temporarily reducing your muscle activity. It accomplishes this by blocking the effects of acetylcholine (ACh), a chemical messenger/neurotransmitter that is crucial for muscle contraction. ACh is released by nerve endings and acts on adjacent muscle tissue to cause forceful contractions. The temporary blockade of this neurotransmitter by Botox injections causes muscles to contract less forcefully.
Cosmetically, the actions of Botox make it a sought-after anti-wrinkle treatment. Wrinkles occur as the result of several aging factors—cellular change, the decline in collagen, and damage from the sun and environment. Additionally, years of repeated muscle contractions while squinting and frowning accentuate furrows and folds between your eyebrows (“frown lines”) and wrinkling around the eyes referred to as “crow’s feet.”
How Is Botox Different from Other Fillers? What Can Patients Expect?
It is important to note that Botox is unlike dermal fillers such as Juvéderm® or Restylane®. Botox injections are highly effective for “dynamic wrinkles” from smiling, laughing, and squinting, whereas face fillers are highly effective for fine lines and wrinkles due to loss of collagen with aging or sun damage.
Botox injections are typically carried out in your physician’s office with no need for hospitalization. Prior to the procedure, your physician will numb the treatment area with ice or a topical anesthetic cream, such as EMLA cream. To address frown lines, your physician will use a very thin needle to inject 5 small doses of Botox into the muscles of the forehead just above the eyes. To address crow’s feet, your physician will inject 3 small doses of Botox into the area on the side of the right eye and repeat the same on the other side. The injections can be administered in less than 10 minutes. You may see noticeable results in 1 to 3 days and results can last up to 4 months. Side effects may include localized pain, infection, inflammation, tenderness, swelling, redness, and/or bleeding/bruising.
You should not lose the ability to show facial expression after Botox injections, as most physicians strive to inject just the right amount that allows the patient to have some limited muscle activity. Additionally, there is no downtime with Botox injections, as a great majority of patients are able to resume normal activity the same day as the procedure.
What Types of Treatments Is Botox Used For?
Botox is the only FDA-cleared treatment to temporarily improve the appearance of both moderate to severe frown lines and crow’s feet in adults. In 2004, it was approved for excess sweating (hyperhidrosis). In 2010, it was approved for treatment of migraine headaches. Other aesthetic uses include the treatment of neck bands, chin dimples, bunny lines, gummy smile, nonsurgical eyebrow lift, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, and noninvasive jaw reduction. Overall, Botox has more than 20 medical applications.