The Simple Facts About What Botox Can and Cannot Do

The Simple Facts About What It Can and Cannot Do

Triptych series of a woman receiving botox treatment, showing before, during and after the process
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Injection of botulinum toxin type A, also known as Botox, has become one of the most common non-surgical cosmetic procedures performed in the U.S.

Yet, amid its unflagging popularity, there remain many myths about the procedure, the most common being that people who get Botox are being injected with botulism (a bacterial form of food poisoning).

It is this and other types of misinformation that can lead consumers in the wrong direction when deciding whether or not to use Botox.

The History of Botox

Botox is the brand name of a type of toxin produced by a form of bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. The toxin has different medical purposes based on the specific type used, ranging from type A to type G.

Type A, the most potent, is marketed under the name of Botox. A similar product, also using type A, is available under the brand name Dysport. Both have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically for the purpose of reducing facial wrinkles.  

A third, using type B botulism toxin, is marketed under the name Myobloc.

Botox has largely become the generic term for all of these products, even among those receiving Dysport or Myobloc injections. In the end, all three work quite similarly, although the results can vary.

How Botox Works

Despite what many will tell you, Botox doesn't actually remove wrinkles. (In fact, you should be wary of any doctor, nurse, or aesthetician who claims that it does.)

Instead, Botox works by temporarily disabling the facial muscles that cause wrinkles (most specifically those associated with crow's feet and the frown lines between your eyes). Botox is able to this so by directly blocking the facial nerves that tell your muscles to contract.

Once injected, that muscle is basically paralyzed, leading to the reduction of so-called "dynamic wrinkles" (wrinkles which are only present when muscles contracts).

This is why Botox is so effective around the mouth and cheeks (where we smile) and the corner of the eyes (where we squint, frown, and grimace).

Not all wrinkles are treated equally. As we get older and lose elasticity in our skin, a permanent crease can sometimes develop even when the muscle is relaxed. While Botox cannot erase these deep creases, it may help to soften them.

Botox isn't reversible once it has been injected, but it does wear off. Its effects typically begin within 48 hours of an injection and become noticeable within five to 10 days. However, the effects only last from between three to five months, at which point you would need to another treatment to maintain the anti-wrinkle effects.

A Word From Verywell

Studies have shown that people who get Botox inject are generally satisfied with the results. However, it should never be considered a miracle treatment. While you can certainly expect some noticeable improvement, it can't turn back the clock 20 years.

In the end, it is alway important to be realistic about what Botox can and cannot do.

Moreover, the improper use of Botox can result in what many cause a "frozen face," a condition which ends up highlighting the procedure rather than wrinkles it is meant to conceal.

Always check the credentials of the professional who plans give you the shots and ask for references from current or former clients.

Sources

  • Gordon, M. "A Conservative Approach to the Nonsurgical Rejuvenation of the Face." Dermatologic Clinics. 2005; 23:365-371.
  • Rivers, J.; et al. "Subject satisfaction with on a botulinum toxin A treatment of glabellar and lateral canthal lines using a new patient-reported outcome measure." Dermatologic Surgery. 2015; 41(8):950-9.

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