About Botox Cosmetic
Available to the public since 2002, BOTOX Cosmetic is an FDA-approved botulinum toxin injectable that promises to work beneath the skin’s surface to target the underlying muscle activity and prevent frown lines, crow’s feet, and brow furrows from occurring.
Compared to invasive surgical methods that achieve similar results, the BOTOX treatment is relatively inexpensive and can potentially restore a more youthful appearance based on proven results. However, despite being fast-acting and longer-lasting than topical cosmetics, curious would-be-buyers might remain hesitant to take the plunge due to potential side effects, which we’ll talk more about in a moment.
Also, while you may have heard that BOTOX has a range of applications beyond cosmetic uses, from relieving sweating, migraines, foot pain, and more, the injectable is only approved for the cosmetic application of reducing facial lines commonly called crow’s feet, smile lines, and creases caused by the furrowing of your brow.
If you’re looking for a way to battle crow’s feet, frown lines, or that troubling double crease developing on your brow, the treatment commonly called “Botox” may have come to your attention.
The Science of BOTOX Cosmetic
BOTOX Cosmetic contains a protein and neurotoxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, and is acutely lethal when injected or inhaled in larger amounts. However, in 1994 the toxin was discovered to relieve uncontrollable sweating when injected in controlled quantities and soon thereafter, cosmetic applications were also found.
Used to both treat and prevent wrinkles caused by repetitive facial movements, Botox works by blocking the release of acetylcholine and paralyzing facial muscles for a period of three to four months. Depending on the area you wish to treat, five to seven injections will be made into the muscles that affect facial movements and thereby cause localized wrinkles.
Shoppers should beware though: Qualifications for BOTOX Cosmetics injectors aren’t federally regulated. In fact, they vary by state and county.
Because the injections have become so popular, they are sometimes even offered at home-based “Botox parties,” salons, or spas. However, BOTOX Cosmetic recommends that you visit only a licensed and registered doctor or cosmetic surgeon, as the potential for negative side effects and the quality of your results depend greatly on the skill with which Botox is injected.
Cost for BOTOX Cosmetic varies slightly, but hovers around $12 per unit, with 120-200 units used for each treatment. That cost is only for the injectable solution, and the professional fees on top of this for each cosmetic service will vary.
What To Expect After Botox Treatment
It’s advised that you take it easy for the first two to three hours after your Botox treatment, but after that you can resume your normal, daily activities. Be sure not to rub or aggravate the treated area.
While the process of receiving injections only takes a few minutes, you won’t see results for three to five days, and sometimes up to two weeks. Once results do manifest though, they should last three to four months, and sometimes up to six.
As the effects of BOTOX Cosmetic begin to wear off, you’ll slowly see wrinkles and creases return. To keep up the effects, plan on having additional injections every three to five months.
BOTOX Cosmetic doesn’t permanently get rid of wrinkles, but some repeat users report that prolonged treatment has allowed their wrinkles to soften out, as the muscles that created the creases are limited in use.
A Choice Between Vanity and Sanity?
As you might imagine, injecting toxins isn’t without risks, no matter how skilled your practitioner. Potential side effects listed on the BOTOX Cosmetic site are reported as:
- Drooping Eyelid(s): While BOTOX Cosmetic claims that this side effect only occurs in 3% of patients, there are multiple reviews available on WebMD that reference long-term eyelid drooping and eye irritation.
- Anxiety & Insomnia: WebMD reviewers also cited experiences with severe anxiety that caused insomnia and difficulty concentrating.
- Headaches & Flu-Like Symptoms: Chills, diarrhea, and vomiting were reported in some reviews.
Other potential side effects include facial pain, redness, swelling at the injection site, bruising, skin tightness, muscle weakness, numbness, a feeling of pins and needles, and nausea.
In rare cases, the toxin’s effects can also spread away from the injection site, causing more serious side effects, including issues with swallowing, speaking, or breathing due to the weakening of associated muscles, which can be severe in cases where larger doses of Botox are administered, such as when treating spasticity.
To reduce your risk for potential side effects, it’s important to talk to your doctor thoroughly about any medications or vitamins you’re currently taking, as well as any muscle or nerve conditions you’ve experienced. A full list of instructions can be found here, on the BOTOX Cosmetic site.
Is BOTOX Cosmetic For You?
While many patients receive Botox injections without experiencing negative effects, those reviewers who are happiest with their results express that they believe it’s important not to skimp on cost when choosing a doctor.
BOTOX Cosmetic urges potential patients to understand that their treatment is technique-sensitive, and you should only receive injections from someone who is licensed, trained, and a medical expert in facial anatomy.
Also, remember that while Botox injections are more convenient and less painful than other procedures for reducing wrinkles and making your face look younger (e.g. chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, face-lift), the effects of an injection may last only a few months.
To keep your revived appearance, you will need to have injections administered several times per year. A single injection may seem inexpensive, but the cost of repeated injections can quickly add up. To ensure that you’re happy with the results of your procedure, it’s important to:
- Choose a practitioner who is a qualified medical doctor – or supervised by one – to perform the procedure.
- Attend a consultation before committing to the injectables, and ask for a treatment plan to outline how much work you need and how often you’ll need to return.
- Consider the ongoing cost of keeping up with the treatments.
- Make sure you allow several days in between attending your first consultation and getting injectables, in order to give you sufficient time to think about your decision.