One of the new and exciting uses of Botox is facial reshaping. Pioneered by Korean Cosmetic Doctors, the technique has quickly spread to the rest of Asia where the ideal heart-shaped face is popular with women of all ages.
History of Facial Reshaping In the past the only way to change the shape of one's face was through painful surgery. The surgeon would make an incision in the inside of the mouth, saw off a small piece of the mandible (jaw bone) and fix the jaw with metal plates and nails to create a smaller jaw. The procedure involved risks of nerve and blood vessel damage, infection and also significant recovery time. It's easy to see why Botox is quickly replacing surgery as the treatment of choice – 70% of the Botox given in Korea is now used for facial reshaping! (In Western countries, over 95% of Botox is used for wrinkles.)
How does Botox work to shrink the jaws? Botox works by relaxing muscles. When we inject the Botox precisely into the Masseters (chewing muscles) we can relax and weaken them. What happens when the chewing muscles weaken and get smaller is that the mandibles (jaw bones) shrink in size with them. The change in face shape is visible and dramatic. Moreover, the effect of both muscle AND bone shrinking is proven beyond doubt with CT (Computer Tomography) Scans.
Can Botox really change the shape of bones? Every part of the human body is in a state of constant renewal and change. Weightlifting puts high forces on muscles and bones, stimulating them to grow bigger. Conversely, without exercise muscles shrink, and bone mass is reduced. A good example is Astronauts. When Astronauts enter space, because there is no gravity (thus their muscles and bones don't have to work to support their own body weight) they rapidly lose around 10% of their bone mass.
What does the treatment involve? The treatment involves 3-4 injections placed into each side of the face (into the Masseters). The needles used are tiny and there is very little discomfort.
What are the side effects? We aim to weaken the chewing muscles, not completely paralyse them! So, the patient might feel tired towards the end of eating a 500g steak. But, normal eating is definitely possible. There have been no permanent side effects reported for Botox® treatments. In the tiny quantities used for Cosmetic uses the main side effects are some minor bruising or swelling around the injection site. These are easily covered with make up.
How many treatments are needed? 3-5 treatments are generally required to achieve optimal results. Most patients see a visible difference after just 1 treatment.
How long does the effect last? If the patient never exercises the chewing muscles again the results would theoretically last forever. This is of course unrealistic - we can't expect people to live just on porridge. However, with just simple diet changes such as avoiding chewing gum and tough foods patients can usually maintain results with just one touch-up treatment every 2-3 years.