I get a lot of questions from patients about Botox. Interestingly, despite the high name recognition there are a lot of misconceptions about Botox. Some patients worry that instead of getting a refreshing “lunchtime face-lift” they’ll leave looking hard and frozen. Worse still they worry all their friends will know they’ve had something done. Others are worried about the safety of using a “toxin” as a medicine.
So what is Botox?
Botox is simply a purified protein produced by Botulinum bacteria. All this protein does is block the communication between nerves and muscles – there is no “poisoning” or damage done. The nerves are simply unable to tell the muscles to contract. As a result, the injected muscles stay relaxed stopping them from repetitively squeezing and wrinkling the skin.
What does this mean for me?
What this will do for the patient is that deep expression lines (such as lines between the brows and around the eyes) soften and the dynamic wrinkles are gone! The current trend in Botox is to selectively target just the wrinkles, leaving natural expressions untouched. This requires detailed knowledge of anatomy and a keen sense of aesthetics. A good doctor should always spend time to discuss the best course of action for you.
A typical Botox treatment takes just 10 minutes – a few injections using the same tiny insulin needles used by diabetic children. The effect slowly develops over 3-7 days and lasts around 4 months. Because the smoothing of the wrinkles is gradual, 9 out of 10 times people will comment on how “fresh and well” you look and not be able to tell you have been “botoxed.”
Are there any side effects?
The safety profile of Botox is impressive and well documented over more than 20 years. Small children with Cerebral Palsy are safely injected with hundreds of units of Botox for rehabilitation. In the tiny amounts used for cosmetic treatment side effects are temporary and localised. They may include redness, bruising and rarely temporary drooping eyelids, headache and nausea.