What is Botox?

Botox is the brand name for a purified form of botulinum toxin type A. When injected in small doses into specific muscles, Botox blocks the chemical signals that cause muscles to contract. When the muscles can’t tighten, the skin flattens and appears smoother and less wrinkled.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Botox as a temporary treatment for moderate to severe frown lines between the eyebrows. It is also used to treat other facial wrinkles such as the lines that fan out from the corners of the eyes (“crows feet”) and lines in the forehead.

The Anatomy of the Wrinkle

Is it just aging? Too much sun? Too much stress? In general, how skin ages and wrinkles is a complex process. It isn’t just about cellular changes, collagen depletion, hormone loss, damage caused by free radicals, and so on; it’s a combination of many factors.

The lines that appear between your brows (glabellar lines) actually result from muscle movement and the passage of time. You may have heard the expression “wearing your emotions on your sleeve,” but in reality you wear them on your face. If you’re angry or annoyed, for example, you knit your brows together. Underneath your skin, your facial muscles contract, cause a pleating of the overlying skin, and then, as anyone can see, you’re frowning.

After years of crinkling and wrinkling, those glabellar lines start to linger longer and can become more pronounced. For women, whose faces tend to be more animated than men’s, and whose skin is typically more delicate, these lines may appear exaggerated and more permanent.

Fortunately, there is a way to temporarily reduce moderate to severe lines between your brows (glabellar), in your forehead (frontallis), and around your eyes (“crows feet”). Treatment with BOTOX¬¨ Cosmetic can visibly smooth and soften moderate to severe frown lines between your brows. An improvement can be seen within days and may last up to 4 months, although results may vary. In clinical trials, nearly 90% of men and women surveyed rated the improvement in the appearance of frown lines between their brows as moderate to better 1 month after treatment

Who is Botox for?

Botox is for people who want to minimize the appearance of wrinkles.

Treatment areas may include:

  • Frown lines between the eyebrows and on the bridge of the nose
  • Forehead creases
  • Fine lines (“crows feet”) at the corners of the eyes

Not all facial wrinkles benefit from Botox injections, however. Botox won’t reverse wrinkling caused by sun damage. Also, it’s less effective treating the lines around your mouth because muscles in this area are needed for eating and talking. Your skin type, skin thickness and degree of wrinkling all play a role in determining whether these injections are effective for you.

Besides a wrinkle treatment, Botox is also used to treat several health conditions, including headaches, backaches, eye muscle problems, muscle spasms and excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis).

 How are Botox injections performed?

A thin needle is used to inject tiny amounts of Botox into specific muscles. By carefully choosing the muscles to treat, weakens only the wrinkle-producing muscles to preserve your natural facial expressions.

The number of injections needed depends on many factors, including your facial features, the extent of the wrinkling and the specific area being treated. For example, crow’s-feet usually require two to five injections. Furrows in your forehead could take eight or more injections.

Botox injections take about 10 to 20 minutes. You may experience mild pain with the injections, but most people find the discomfort tolerable. The procedure requires no anesthesia.

What can you expect after the procedure?

Botox injections require no downtime; you can resume your normal daily activities immediately. You may have headaches for a few hours after the treatment. Take care, though, not to rub or massage the treated areas. This can cause the toxin to migrate to a different area of your face. If this happens, temporary facial weakness or drooping is possible.

You’ll notice results within a few days, but the full effect takes about two weeks. Results aren’t permanent, however, so to maintain your look, you need follow-up injections every 2-4 months.