For many years, doctors have used Botox to help treat dermatological issues, such as wrinkles and facial creases. Botox was the first drug to utilize the botulinum toxin to help temporarily paralyze muscles. By doing this, the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines start to diminish. Through years of research and development, Botox is used to help treat various medical conditions. The paralyzing effect of these injections allows patients suffering from conditions such as chronic neck spasms and migraines.
What is Botulinum Toxin?
Botox is a product that uses botulinum toxin to help reduce the signs of wrinkles on the face and help with some medical conditions. Botulinum toxin is manufactured using a specific type of bacteria. When used in higher amounts, botulinum toxin can be poisonous. Using the toxin in smaller, weaker doses are safe to use. The toxin is used in popular Botox treatments helping reduce facial wrinkles.
As the body ages, many experience signs of wrinkles on the face. These wrinkles are caused by muscle movement, also referred to as expression lines. These expression lines are caused naturally by smiling, squinting, frowning, and other facial expressions. Most commonly, Botox is used to treat lines on the upper face between the brows, on the forehead, and crow’s feet around the eyes.
Botox helps limit the movement of the muscles associated with expression lines, minimizing the signs of aging. However, fine lines and wrinkles caused by loss of plumpness or sagging cannot be treated by this type of treatment. These lines, also referred to as static wrinkles, are located on the cheeks, neck, and jowl area. Botox also helps other areas by smoothing the skin’s appearance include the upper and lower lips and the neck.
Botox is not a permanent solution to reversing signs of aging. Injection treatments must be repeated as necessary for continued and long-lasting results. Many return for treatment every three to four months.
The most common use for Botox is a cosmetic procedure designed to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles. However, through years of research and development, this injection now has many uses, including treating several medical conditions. Doctors currently use Botox injections to help treat conditions such as:
Cervical dystonia: A disorder causing severe muscle spasms in the neck and shoulders.
Excessive underarm sweating
Eyes pointing in different directions
Muscle contractures: Neurological conditions causing limbs to pull into the body.
Spasmodic dysphonia: A condition that makes the vocal cords sound shaky.
Thyroid eye disease
Botox is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Additionally, those allergic to cow’s milk should not receive Botox injections.
Botox vs. Dermal Fillers
Both Botox and dermal fillers are cosmetic treatments given through injections and administered in a doctor’s office. The treatments are minimally invasive (no surgery) and are very popular among those seeking to diminish aging signs. So what is the difference? Here are some of the main differences between Botox and dermal fillers.
Botox is an injection containing purified bacteria. The bacteria essentially freezes or paralyzes the muscles. Freezing the muscles minimizes movement, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by facial movement and expressions. Common treatment areas include foreheads, around the eyes, and the mouth. Botox is also used for several different medical conditions. Results from Botox last between three to six months.
Dermal fillers contain ingredients that fill treatment areas that have thinned due to aging. The filler plumps areas of the face reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Fillers are added just below the surface of the skin to help smooth out wrinkles and fine lines. Common treatment areas for dermal fillers include cheeks, lips, and around the mouth. Results from dermal fillers last about six months; however, some patients claim effects have lasted up to two years.
How Does Botox Work?
Botox is a toxin used to paralyze the muscles by blocking signals from the nerves to the muscles. After the injection, the muscles are no longer able to contract. The lack of contracting muscles helps relax and soften wrinkles. Injections are commonly used on forehead lines, crow’s feet, and frown lines. Because Botox is used to paralyze muscles, wrinkles caused by sun damage or causes other than muscle movement cannot be treated with these injections.
Prepare for Treatment
Before receiving Botox injections, let the doctor know if any other Botox injections have been administered in the past four months. Also, let the doctor know about any medications, such as muscle relaxation, sleeping pills, blood thinners, and allergy medications. Patients may be asked to stop these medications from reducing the risk of bruising or bleeding from the injections.
Most patients do not feel much discomfort during treatment. However, depending upon the treatment area, some patients request the skin area be numbed before injections are administered. Numbing the area is common among patients receiving treatments for excessive sweating with injections on their palms and soles. Doctors may use different types of numbing techniques, including topical anesthesia, ice, and vibration anesthesia.
Botox procedures do not require anesthesia (unless requested) and only take a few minutes to complete. Injections using thin needles are given to specific muscles to achieve desired results. The number of injections received depends upon the treatment area. Some patients start seeing results in as little as 24 hours; however, it may take up to seven to 14 days to see maximum results.
It is best to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages one week before receiving a Botox treatment. Additionally, to help prevent bruising, stop taking any aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications at least two weeks before the procedure.
Avoid rubbing the injection sites for up to 24 hours post-treatment. Not rubbing the treatment area will limit the spread of Botox to other areas. Some patients are instructed to stay upright for at least four hours after receiving the injections. It is best to avoid exercising for at least 24 hours after the procedure.
The effects of Botox injections generally last between three to six months. As time passes, the muscle action slowly returns, causing lines and wrinkles to reappear. When this happens, it is time to receive another treatment. Over time, the lines and wrinkles will reappear less severe, resulting in longer-lasting results between treatments.
If the procedure is conducted correctly, it may be difficult to tell if someone received Botox treatment. For many, their skin remains to look natural post-treatment. Though plastic surgeons, dermatologists, and doctors can tell if someone received Botox injections, the average person may not even notice.
Botox Side Effects
Recovery from Botox procedures is speedy. Many who receive the injections can return to their daily routine right away. Some patients do experience temporary side effects, which generally diminish within 24 to 48 hours. Some of the most common side effects may include:
Bleeding at the injection site
Eyelid drooping (A tiny percentage of patients experience this, and it typically goes away within three weeks.)
Flu-like symptoms (feeling unwell)
Hives, rashes, and itching
Mild pain around the injection site
Severe tearing of the eyes
Swelling around the injection site
Weakness in muscles near the injection site
As with any procedure, there is always a risk of some more severe complications post-treatment. Patients experiencing overall muscle weakness, vision problems, trouble speaking, issues swallowing, breathing difficulties, or loss of bladder control should immediately seek medical attention. Though rare, these could be signs of an allergic reaction or other adverse reaction to the Botox injections.
What Is Included with Treatment?
Pre-treatment appointments include the consultation. This appointment is used to help determine the patient’s current health, figure out if the patient is the right candidate for Botox, and come up with an estimated cost based on the required units needed. The consultation is when the patient should discuss any concerns and ask questions about the treatment. Some doctors charge a fee for the consultation, while others offer consultation services free of charge.
Once the number of units is determined, the doctor will offer an estimate for the procedure. This amount includes the required units of Botox and doctor’s fees. Anesthesia is not needed, but those patients wanting it should let the doctor know. This way, the cost for anesthesia is included in the treatment plan’s estimate.
Post-treatment follow-ups used to check the effect of the procedure is usually free of charge. However, if touch-ups are needed, there may be an added fee. Follow-up treatments in three to six months also have additional costs associated with the number of units required.
Costs and Insurance
Costs for Botox procedures vary based on the treatment area and the number of injections needed. For example, on average, each unit (injection) costs between $10 to $15. It may take up to 20 units to treat forehead wrinkles, costing between $200 to $300 for treatment. Take time to speak with the dermatologist to determine how many units are needed and the total cost. Additionally, follow up treatments may be required in three to six months to maintain continued treatment results.
Several factors determine the overall cost of a Botox treatment. The first factor is how big the area being treated is and how many units are needed. The more units required, the higher the cost will be. The second factor is how experienced the doctor administering the treatment is. The more experienced, the higher the price might be. The fourth factor is if the treatment facility offers any rebates, discounts, or other offers, which may reduce the treatment cost. The final factor is if insurance covers the treatment and how much it covers.
When used for cosmetic purposes, health insurance does not cover Botox treatments. However, when used to treat different medical conditions, the injections may be covered by select health insurance plans. Contact the insurance company to inquire about coverage options and determine which policy would cover Botox treatment plans.
Selecting Treatment Location
Botox must be used under a doctor’s care. Treatment is available at doctor run medspas, dermatology offices, and in some medical doctor’s offices. Supervision by a medical doctor is necessary to ensure the injections are administered correctly and limit the number of side effects.
Ask for a referral from a primary care physician or search for a doctor specializing in Botox treatments. Call for a consultation to discuss options, costs, insurance coverage, and any concerns about the treatment. The doctor will help determine what is needed for desired results and if Botox is the best option. Do not be afraid to ask to see the license, certifications, insurance, and referrals.
Botox injections help block chemical signals from the nerves paralyzing muscles in the treatment area. This procedure helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by the constant moving of these muscles. Over time, Botox has been adapted to help with certain medical conditions and continues to be used for cosmetic purposes