What is Botox?
What you know as Botox is actually known, in medical circles, as botulinum toxin. Although we still call it Botox. I’m just trying to sound smart.
Botox is commonly used to reduce the visibility of wrinkles on our faces, but it is also used to treat a range of other conditions which you can read about here if you’re feeling nerdy.
Botox works by blocking the chemical signals from nerves which normally facilitate muscle contraction. Translating this into English: it reduces muscle contractions, making them relax and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
Can anyone have Botox?
Most people can, yes. But there are exceptions.
Because it contains cow’s milk protein, if you are allergic to milk, you are generally not eligible.
Some medical conditions like those causing neuromuscular weakness (eg. Myasthenia gravis) may also preclude you from this treatment.
It is also not recommended in pregnant people.
It's always best to book an appointment and check with your clinician!
What are the risks?
You’re asking all the right questions.
First off, Botox injections are usually safe when you see an experienced doctor. That’s why you need to know who to trust and avoid the huge list of inexperienced, dangerous clinics out there.
But back to your excellent question.
Possible side effects include:
- Soreness, swelling or bruising at the injection site
- Flu-like symptoms: muscle aches, fever, feeling a bit rubbish in general
- Droopy eyelid(s)
- Eye dryness or tearing (and not because you found this great site)
Now that we’ve started this negative streak, we might as well keep going.
Here are the rare side effects that you should escalate to a doctor immediately:
- Muscle weakness
- Abnormal vision
- Problems swallowing, speaking or breathing
- Bladder problems: unable to pee, or unable to control when you pee
This is why you need to choose your doctor very carefully!
What to expect
We can split this into three stages: before, during and after the procedure.
Your doctor will need to know if you’ve had a Botox injection within the last four months. They will also want to know if you take medications like blood thinners, muscle relaxants, sleeping tablets, or allergy tablets. This will help them prepare your procedure. For example, certain blood thinners need to be stopped a few days beforehand.
Now we’ve come to the big day.
The procedure will usually not be too uncomfortable, but let your doctor know if you prefer to have your skin numbed first. This might come in the form of a numbing (anaesthetic) spray or cream, ice, the list goes on.
Your comfort is key.
Your doctor will usually perform the injection in their office using a thin needle containing botulinum toxin.
The number of injections performed depends on the size of the area being treated and the reason for the procedure.
Don’t touch the treated area(s) for 24 hours. You don’t want to waste your money (and use of muscles) by spreading the toxin to different areas.
You can get expect to get right back to your normal life and activities after your procedure.
Follow these tips to recover as quickly as possible:
- Follow the instructions given by your doctor after your treatment (duh)
- Reduce bruising with Arnica supplements
- Sleep upright to reduce facial swelling
- Don't bend over, strain or exercise vigorously for 24 hours
- Don't massage your face (unless told otherwise)
- Avoid exposure to the sun and heat until you've recovered
When do the results start to show?
Around one to three days after treatment, but this depends on the type of Botox used.
How long do the effects last?
It depends on the problem being treated. For cosmetic purposes, it may last three or more months. Check out this article for more details.
How do I make my Botox last longer?
Ask and you shall receive:
- Stay well hydrated - track your water intake and fight those wrinkles!
- Good skin care: daily use of a moisturiser with hyaluronic acid will slow down the rate of Botox breakdown and reduce inflammation
- Use a high-quality sunscreen to stop sunlight-induced Botox breakdown
- Eat well - and your skin will reward you
What do I do once the effects run out?
You have a decision to make!
Do you miss the look your chemical friend gave you? You’ll need follow-up injections every once in a while, if so.
And if not? Enjoy your lovely face the way it is.
The main thing is that you’re happy. That’s all we want at Ask Doctor Jad.