The appearance of aging on our face is a slow, gradual process that is like “a fraying rope” over the course of many years. The minute we notice the lines and wrinkles in the mirror or in a picture of ourselves is when the rope breaks. This can be a startling vision for many, prompting us to run straight to the mall for the latest wrinkle removers. Unfortunately, by the time the lines and wrinkles have noticeably settled into our skin, it’s nearly impossible to remove them with over-the-counter products or gimmicks.
What is Botox?
Botox is the most effective treatment for smoothing wrinkles on the face that were created from years of frowning, squinting and other muscle movements. Botox has been safely used in cosmetic treatments since 2002 and is FDA-approved for both migraine prevention and excessive sweating. It’s also the most common minimally-invasive cosmetic procedure with 6.7 million treatments performed in the U.S. in 2014 alone!
Botox is often mistaken as the same as cosmetic dermal fillers, like Restylane or Juvederm. Dermal fillers, however, plump up or fill in the wrinkle. Botox works by relaxing the muscles and skin that are causing the wrinkles. Because certain wrinkles are caused by the muscles repeatedly contracting over the years, relaxing the muscle helps smooth out lines.
Like any elective medical procedure, it’s common to have questions, concerns and hesitations regarding whether this would be the right treatment for you. Whether you’re ready to make your first appointment or just considering your options, our beginner’s guide to Botox will help you gain more knowledge into this popular and effective treatment for wrinkles.
Is Botox Safe?
The term “Botox” is short for botulinum toxin. While the fact that it’s a toxin may scare you, there’s no need to worry. The FDA-approved version of Botox uses a highly-diluted and purified protein that relaxes the muscle only at the injection site. The diluted version is so small, there is little to no chance a Botox treatment will cause problems, especially when it’s administered by a trained medical professional.
How Is It Used?
Botox is most commonly used in the forehead, between the eyebrows and around the eyes. It’s injected with a small needle to about 5-7 key muscle sites responsible for contraction. The amount of Botox or number of sites needed is subjective and will depend upon the strength of your muscles, the severity of the wrinkles and your treatment goals. An expert clinician will evaluate all these factors and come up with a plan that’s customized just for you.
Does Botox Hurt?
The needles used for Botox are very small and may feel similar to a small bee sting. However, many people report little to no pain at all and the entire treatment takes only a few minutes. For people with needle-phobia or severe anxiety, there are some techniques and options to minimize pain but this is rarely needed.
How Do I Take Care of My Skin Following Treatment?
Immediately after, it may look like you have small mosquito bumps on your skin right where the injections were placed. This usually only lasts a few minutes and by the time you leave the office it’s common to have no visible signs that you had anything done. Bruising or swelling is very rare with this simple treatment. You will be asked not to rub the area, lie on your face or wear a tight hat that pushes on the injection sites for 4 hours after the procedure. This allows the protein to remain in the muscles we want treated and not move to other areas.
When Will I See Results?
Despite our excitement for a wrinkle-free face, results are not instantaneous. The protein takes a few days to integrate into the muscles and gradually relax the contraction. Many people start to notice a bit of improvement at 48-72 hours but enjoy full results at 2 weeks. This process can be a big benefit for those who don’t want anyone to know they had something done. Unlike plastic surgery, where you look completely different than the day before, Botox treatments allow a slow improvement. People often say their friends and family tell them they just look more rested or refreshed.
How Long Does Botox Last?
Botox typically lasts about three to four months but it doesn’t just “give out” one day. The results could be described as a bell-shaped curve with gradual improvement the first 2 weeks, great results for 6-8 weeks and then slow decline for the next several weeks. It can be helpful to schedule your next Botox treatment within 3-4 months so the results aren’t completely worn off, making you start over. At Rejuvenation Clinic, we call this our “Forever Fresh” approach.
Will My Face Look Frozen or Unnatural?
We’ve all seen famous people on television or in magazines with a face that no longer expresses emotion. Overuse of Botox can make your face look too stiff or unnatural which is never a desired result. It’s important to have an expert clinician analyze the strength of your muscles and give you the results you desire without going overboard. Undesirable results have to wear off slowly over several months. It’s common to start a bit more conservatively the first time someone is treated since we can always add a little more Botox if needed.
What Are Some of the Possible Side Effects?
In clinical studies, most people (>95%) who received a Botox injection did not experience any side effects. The most common side effect we see is a slight headache the first day after your first treatment. This is often minor and easily relieved with over the counter Ibuprofen or Tylenol. Many people report that consistent use of Botox actually helps their tension or muscular headaches. Other reported side effects can include slight bruising at the injection site, headache, blurred vision and dry eyes but these are rare and usually only last a few days.
What About Botox Parties?
The simplest answer about the safety of Botox parties is this: It depends on who is hosting it. Some cosmetic providers host these events in their own offices. Patients are encouraged to bring friends who are also interested in Botox, and they are treated to group discounts as well as food and drinks. It’s like taking a spa day with your friends, but you’re getting Botox instead of a massage. This approach can help people feel more relaxed in a group setting with friends. But the medical treatment remains the same — a health history is taken, and the patient has time to ask questions. Then, a one-on-one consultation is performed by the provider before any treatment is given.
Botox parties held outside a medical office can be dangerous, especially if hosted by untrained medical or worse, non-medical injectors. Be wary of low cost Botox injections. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are reported cases of people being injected throughout the U.S. with substances that were NOT Botox or shipped in from other countries with tainted lot numbers. The injector often does not possess the training, medical background or skill to give the best results. The cheap cost of this treatment may just cost you a droopy eyelid for the next several months.
How Much Does Botox Cost?
The cost of Botox treatments can vary based on the strength or size of the muscles. The stronger the area that’s creating frown lines or crow’s feet, the more “units” of Botox is needed. This is assessed carefully at each visit to attain the perfect result for you. Most people can expect to pay about $300-$500 per treatment area for their first time. Follow-up appointments may be less.
Cosmetic medical clinics and providers should be informed of your overall general health and include a full medical history prior to any treatments. It’s important to speak up about any health concerns or conditions you are currently being treated for. As these are elective procedures, we wouldn’t want anything to interfere with your medical treatment plan. It’s a good idea to make a list with the following information to take with you to your appointment:
- Any medications you currently take, including vitamin supplements, herbal medicine and over-the-counter drugs.
- Medical conditions, such as ALS, Myasthenia Gravis or Lambert-Eaton Syndrome.
- Your past history of facial surgery, whether cosmetic or reconstructive.
- Any weakness in your face, specifically in the areas that will be treated by Botox.
- If you are nursing or pregnant or if you plan to become pregnant in the next few months.
Some medications, like blood thinners and aspirin, would likely make you more prone to bruising after the treatment. While bruising is very rare with Botox, it’s important to discuss whether you are a candidate for treatment while on blood thinners.
Finding Your Botox Provider
Choosing the right clinic or injector for Botox treatments is just like searching for any medical specialist. Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to find someone you trust, especially if the person who recommends them has had great, visible results. It’s important that any provider listen to your concerns and answer all of your questions without rushing you.
Questions to ask your Botox provider might include:
- How long have you been administering Botox?
- How often do you use Botox on patients?
- Can I see before and after photos of other patients?
- Is someone in the office available for follow-up questions after the procedure?
- What can I do if I’m not happy with the results?
Is Botox Right For Me?
If you have wrinkles and creases that bother you, Botox might be the perfect solution. The decision about whether or not to have Botox is a personal one and shouldn’t be made through outside pressure from friends or from unrealistic expectations you see on models in magazines. Take the time to learn about facial aging and the best treatments for your skin from an experienced, trusted provider. You may find, along with millions of other people, that Botox is definitely the right treatment for you!
Rejuvenation Clinic of Sauk Prairie is proud to offer Botox treatments along with many other non-surgical anti-aging procedures. Not only is healthy skin our passion but your overall health and wellness is our priority. We will always take as much time as you need to feel comfortable with every visit and are dedicated to helping you achieve your skin goals. To schedule a free consultation, fill out our contact us form or call 608-434-6600.