Definition & Overview

Botox treatment, which is one of the most popular anti-aging procedures these days, is performed to eliminate or minimize the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging. This minimally invasive procedure uses a type of toxin from a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. When used in small doses, it is capable of keeping skin wrinkling at bay without causing negative side effects. It works by weakening or paralyzing the muscles that create wrinkles or by temporarily blocking specific nerves from contracting. Each anti-aging Botox treatment can keep the face wrinkle-free for as long as twelve months.

Who Should Undergo & Expected Results

Botox is widely known as a cosmetic treatment. It is recommended for people who wish to eliminate or minimize the appearance of wrinkles and other facial lines, such as:

  • Crow’s feet or the lines surrounding the corners of the eyes
  • Frown lines or the deep creases that develop between the eyebrows
  • Forehead furrows or the lines that appear when one raises an eyebrow

The Botox drug is most effective as a preventive procedure or when used on wrinkles that have not set yet. These are called dynamic wrinkles that appear when a person is moving his or her face. The treatment is also believed to help prevent wrinkles, or at least prolong the time it takes for them to come back.

Patients who undergo Botox treatment for cosmetic reasons can expect their wrinkles and facial lines to disappear for about four to six months. After which, they may elect to get Botox injections again to prolong the effect. Many people prefer Botox over other cosmetic facial treatments such as facelift because it is minimally invasive and does not require lengthy recovery or downtime. After the procedure, patients can immediately return to their normal daily activities. The only precaution that is advised is to avoid rubbing or massaging the treated area to prevent the toxin from moving to other areas.

Despite the use of a known toxin, a Botox treatment is considered to be safe and has been in use for years for neurologic and ophthalmologic treatments. Aside from its cosmetic benefits, it is also used to cure certain conditions that are primarily caused by muscle contractions. Botox treatments relieve the symptoms by relaxing the muscles that cause the problem in the first place. These include:

  • Chronic migraine
  • Cervical dystonia
  • Hyperhidrosis
  • Bladder dysfunction or overactive bladder
  • Blepharospasm or uncontrollable blinking
  • Strabismus or misaligned eyes
  • Muscle contractions
  • Cerebral palsy (a neurological condition wherein contracted muscles pulls in a person’s limbs toward the center of his body)
  • Severe underarm sweating

How Does the Procedure Work?

Before the procedure, patients may elect to have their skin numbed to prevent discomfort. This can be achieved by:

  • Injecting numbing medication
  • Applying numbing cream about an hour before the procedure
  • Directing a blast of cold air to the target area for about 10 minutes

Botox treatment is simple and quick. It involves injecting a small, controlled dose of the toxin botulinum into key areas surrounding the wrinkles using a thin needle. Depending on the target area and the purpose of the procedure, more than one injection may be needed to achieve the desired results.

The procedure is highly effective due to the toxin’s capability to relax muscles. When used for the purpose of getting rid of wrinkles, it relaxes muscles that contract each time a person moves the face, such as when smiling, frowning, or laughing. With the injection of Botox, the facial muscles become relaxed and the skin maintains a smooth and unwrinkled appearance.

Possible Complications and Risks

The following are the side effects that are typically associated with the procedure:

  • Swelling or bruising at site of injection
  • Headache
  • Flu-like symptoms

It is important for patients to carefully select the right cosmetic doctor to perform the treatment. The doctor should be experienced, licensed, and skilled to avoid potential risks and complications such as:

  • Crooked smile
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Cockeyed eyebrows
  • Dry eye
  • Excessive tearing

These can occur when the botulinum toxin affects other surrounding tissues that are not supposed to be included in the treatment.

Also, since the main ingredient in the treatment is a toxin, there is always a risk of food poisoning that can take place when the toxin spread to other areas of the body. This causes symptoms similar to those caused by botulism, such as:

  • Problems in vision
  • Muscle weakness in all parts of the body
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Breathing problems
  • Loss of bladder control

Pregnant and breastfeeding patients are advised against Botox because the injection may have dangerous effects on the health of the baby.

References:

  • American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: “Botox and Facial Fillers – Non-Surgical Rejuvenation.”
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