There’s really no debating that Botox has made it into our collective consciousness, and even people who would never consider having a cosmetic procedure done can tell you what it is.
Unfortunately, that also means that there's a lot of misinformation out there. So, what is Botox? How does it work? And is it really made out of botulism?
To help you separate out the fact from the fiction, Skin Pharm has created a primer, all about Botox. So, if you're looking for more information about the many uses of Botox, its safety and potential side effects, we’ve got you.
Okay, let’s start. What is Botox?
The basic concept beyond Botox is also part of what makes it so misunderstood, so let’s just get that out of the way.
Yes, Botox is a derivative of the same bacteria that can cause the disease botulism.
Known as Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria is most commonly found in contaminated foods or the soil. In large enough quantities or if allowed to enter into an open wound, Clostridium botulinum can develop a severe nervous system disorder known as botulism.
However, it’s how Clostridium botulinum impacts the nervous system that really interests the cosmetic procedure industry. They took that neurotoxic ability and filtered out a specific type of the bacteria (known as type A) and developed it into the medical injections we know as Botox (as well as Dysport).
That means that Botox is also characterized as being a botulinum toxin injectable. But don’t the name scare you… it’s much safer than it sounds.
How does Botox work?
When injected into the muscles under the skin on the face, Botox treatments get to work using its neurotoxic potential. Even the small amounts of Botox that are used in cosmetic procedures can cause paralysis of those muscles, which is the goal of treatment.
The same method of action that allows botulism to paralyze the muscles of the respiratory system (which is part of what makes it such a scary disease) is also what helps it block the nerve signals that are sent to the muscles it is injected into.
It’s a common misconception that the injection of Botox erases or completely gets rid of wrinkles like crow's feet lines. Instead, injections like Botox simply relax those wrinkle-forming muscles.
To be clear, the wrinkles that occur on the face result from the repetitive movement of the muscles under the skin. There is nothing that you can do to “get rid” of wrinkles. But you can use Botox to stop those muscles from continuing to contract, which also allows the skin over them to relax.
The vast majority of patients who have undergone Botox state that they are very satisfied with their treatment and results. With so many people having them done yearly, which is an estimated few million annually, that’s a very high success rate.
Is Botox safe?
While there is always a risk associated with any cosmetic procedure, in general, the risk that comes along with Botox is fairly low. There have been a few cases of botulism associated with Botox injections, but that risk is incredibly low.
Instead of coming into contact with Clostridium botulinum in the “wild,” the cosmetic version has been created in a lab. Even though it is made with the same type of bacteria, it is sterilized and diluted down so much that there is a minimal risk of catching botulism from it in a controlled environment.
However, there are a few side effects of Botox that may occur. In most cases, such symptoms resolve within a day or two and are very mild in nature:
Dry mouth and eyes
Eye redness or irritation
Temporarily drooping eyelids (known as ptosis)
In very rare cases, botulinum toxin overdose may occur. The symptoms of overdose include trouble swallowing, trouble breathing, muscle weakness, hoarseness, blurred vision, loss of bladder control, double vision and loss of voice.
Side effects like itchiness, wheezing, rash or asthma symptoms may be signs of an allergic reaction to Botox. If you experience any of these severe side effects, seek medical help immediately.
What is Botox used to treat?
Of all of the botulinum toxins out there, Botox is by far the most studied and diverse in its treatment abilities.
It’s use for cosmetic issues is what it is the most well-known for. Specifically, Botox is used to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and creases on the face, including:
Crow’s feet lines: the wrinkles around the outside corners of the eye
Glabellar lines: frown lines/forehead lines, or the “11s” between your eyebrows
Bunny lines: the “crinkles” around the nose
However, it is also indicated for a variety of other medical issues, such as:
Cervical dystonia (an involuntary contraction of the neck muscles)
Strabismus (abnormal eye alignment)
Blepharospasm (eye twitching)
Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) + severe underarm sweating
It’s important to note that Botox can help with all sorts of wrinkles resulting from repetitive facial muscle movement. However, it isn’t effective against wrinkles that result from gravity or sun damage.
Essentially, this comes down to the concept of static versus dynamic wrinkles. Static wrinkles are the type of wrinkles that remain in place even with an unmoving face. Dynamic lines, on the other hand, are more noticeable when the face is in motion.
How does the Botox procedure work?
While we don’t know how everyone does it, here’s a little insight into how the Botox process works at Skin Pharm.
When you first come in for a consultation, we’ll talk to you about your skin goals and recommend ways to help you reach them. If that includes Botox, we’ll decide how many units of Botox that you need to be able to create the look that you’re hoping to achieve.
Our goal here is to create a “natural” look, meaning that you’ll look like the best version of yourself.
You’ll also want to come prepared with a list of all of the medications that you’re currently on, as well as any underlying health conditions. This will help ensure the procedure is safe and goes as smoothly as possible.
The procedure continues until all of the areas have been treated, which usually takes under an hour. After the procedure is over, you may temporarily see swelling or redness at the injection sites.
However, those symptoms shouldn’t last more than an hour or so after you leave the facility. It’s recommended that you avoid touching the areas you’ve gotten Botox in for at least 4 hours afterward, as well as holding off on working out or lying flat.
When will I start to notice results?
The results that you can achieve from Botox injections won’t start as soon as the needles are removed. Because of the way that Botox works and how long it takes for the neurotoxin to really settle into the muscle and take effect, most people state that they first start to notice results around three to five days after their injections are complete.
After about two weeks, however, you’ll be able to see the full benefit of the injections. Those results last up to three to four months.
Planning on getting your injections around that period of time can help you be able to fight off wrinkle rebound and keep your skin looking as beautiful and smooth as possible for as long as possible.
As the Botox begins to wear off, you’ll notice the muscle movement slowly start to return as well. However, with each set of injections, the wrinkles will start to get smaller and smaller. That’s why people choose to keep coming back for more! With the right providers, Botox really does work.
Who shouldn’t get Botox?
While Botox is relatively safe for most people, there are a few who should avoid it.
For instance, Botox is not considered safe for anyone who is pregnant. However, that is just due to a lack of studies revolving around its use, and not anything that has proven “bad.”
For instance, studies have shown that it may be safe for treating certain medical conditions, like dystonia, which is the involuntary muscle contractions of the neck.
The same goes for people who are breastfeeding. It's unknown if Botox will pass into breast milk when you nurse. Until further studies are performed, though, it’s best to avoid it for the safety of your baby.
It is important to avoid Botox within two weeks of taking NSAIDs, blood thinners, sleep medicine or OTC medications. This will help avoid bruising and speed up the healing process.
To sum it up...
Skin Pharm offers both Botox and Dysport injections to help you achieve a natural look – you’ll still look like yourself, just the most refreshed version! We want you to feel confident and comfortable with who you are, both outside and inside, and we’d be honored to be a part of that process.