What is Botox?
Botox is the brand name of botulinum toxin, and it’s produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. C. botulinum is found in plants, soil, water, and animal intestines. This chemical blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, causing muscle paralysis that lasts for several months. Botox injection’s primary ability is to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles. They also work to treat conditions such as neck spasms (cervical dystonia), excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), an overactive bladder, and lazy eye. Botox injections may also help prevent chronic migraines.
Botox injections use a toxin called onobotulinumtoxinA to temporarily prevent a muscle from moving. This toxin is produced by the microbe that causes botulism, a type of food poisoning.
Botox was the first drug to use botulinum toxin. Other products now include abobotulinumtoxinA (Dysport), rimabotulinumtoxinB (Myobloc), and incobotulinumtoxinA (Xeomin). Each is a little different, particularly when it comes to dosage units, so they aren’t interchangeable.
Uses of Botox
The most common use of these injections is to temporarily relax the facial muscles that cause wrinkles in the forehead and around the eyes. Botox injections also treat conditions that affect how the body functions. Examples include:
Cervical dystonia. In this painful condition, your neck muscles contract involuntarily causing your head to twist or turn into an uncomfortable position.
Lazy eye. The most common cause of lazy eye is an imbalance in the muscles responsible for positioning the eye.
Muscle contractures. Some neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy, can cause your limbs to pull in toward your center. In some cases, these contracted muscles are relaxed with injections.
Hyperhidrosis. In this condition, excessive sweating occurs even when the temperature isn’t hot and you’re not exerting yourself.
Chronic migraine. If you experience migraines more than 15 days a month, injections may help reduce headache frequency.
Bladder dysfunction. Injections can also help reduce urinary incontinence caused by an overactive bladder.
Eye twitching. injections may help relieve the contracture or twitching of muscles around the eye.
How do I know if Botox is right for me?
There’s nothing wrong with doing something for yourself if it makes you feel more self-assured. But never be pressured into changing your looks by someone else or for perceived societal standards. Whatever you decide, make the decision.
Remember, aging is a natural and beautiful thing. Those lines hold the tales of every time you’ve smiled, laughed, furrowed your brow, or frowned. They’re the topographical map of your history. And that’s something worth owning.
What are the risks of Botox?
As a treatment for looking younger, Botox is still a spring chicken itself. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Botox for certain cosmetic uses in 2002. Although clinicians have deemed it relatively safe, studies are still in play regarding long-term effects and other factors.
For example, researchers in 2016 found that higher doses can spread along with nerve cells beyond the intended injection site. The FDA has issued a warning, but it’s still approved trusted Source in smaller doses for the temporary reduction of the appearance of wrinkles on the forehead and around the eyes and mouth.
Additional risks include a botched job if too much of the neurotoxin is used or injected in the wrong spot. Bad Botox might include a “frozen” or expressionless face, asymmetrical issues, or drooping. Thankfully, since it is temporary, any of these mishaps will eventually wear off. The same goes for any light bruising that may occur after receiving injections, which should disappear after a few days.
What’s the Ideal Age to Start Using Botox?
This also varies — and it’s mostly up to you! You don’t need it before you have wrinkles to hide, or you can use it preventatively. “To be clear, it is much more about anatomy (as a result of genetic and environmental factors) than it is about a stereotypical age at which to begin,” Kolker says. “Prevention is the new mantra, [but] I have seen women in [they’re] the 40s with few or no wrinkles who require very little, and women in their 20s who require more.”
Basically, a patient can have Botox safely whenever they are bothered by their wrinkles or simply want to prevent them from forming in the first place. There is no issue with long term use, either: “I’ve had patients who have used it repeatedly for over 20 years without bad effects,” says Kane.
How Long Does Botox Last?
Everyone is different, so the answer varies from patient to patient. In general, “the results can be seen within four to five days, and [they] last for three to six months with no downtime or surgery, and little to no discomfort,” Sobel says. As such, “some patients enjoy treatments every three months, [and] many will treat every 4 to 6 months,” Kolker shares.