Skin Procedures Botulinum Toxin (Botox)

Botulinum Toxin Type A

  • Best Candidates:
    People who want to soften dynamic wrinkles by relaxing facial muscles
  • Length of Procedure:
    A few minutes
  • Inpatient/Outpatient:
    Outpatient
  • Anesthesia:
    None required
  • Results:
    Temporary
  • Procedures in 2015:
    6,757,198 (source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons)

Botulinum Toxin Type A

Injections of Botulinum Toxin, commonly known as Botox or Botulinum Toxin Type A, have become a very popular way to reduce wrinkles and rejuvenate faces that are beginning to show signs of aging. Botulinum toxin is derived from bacteria and purified for use as a cosmetic injectable treatment. The effects of botox are temporary, usually lasting from 3 to 6 months, but these minimally-invasive treatments can be performed quickly with no downtime.

Botulinum Toxin Overview

Smooth and Soften Wrinkles Caused by Muscle Activity

Botox is injected into the face to relax the muscles that cause dynamic wrinkles. These wrinkles are the result of everyday facial expressions such as smiling, frowning, squinting or even chewing. Botox blocks the nerve signals that causes muscles in the face to contract, smoothing wrinkles such as frown lines, crow's feet and forehead furrows that are caused by repetitive muscle movements.

The major brand names of botulinum toxin type A products include BOTOX Cosmetic, Dysport and Xeomin. These brands are all approved by the FDA for cosmetic use. Your plastic surgeon's office will help you decide which botulinum toxin product is right for you and your specific needs as a patient.

Botox products are most commonly used to temporarily relax the underlying muscles that cause facial wrinkles, including:

  • Moderate to severe frown lines between the eyebrows (glabellar lines).
  • Crow's feet that form around the eyes.
  • Forehead furrows that form when you raise your eyebrows.

Botulinum toxin is sometimes used to correct asymmetry in the face by weakening certain muscles on one side or the other.

Beside its use as a cosmetic wrinkle treatment, botulinum toxin is used to treat a wide range of medical symptoms, including migraine headaches, muscle spasms and hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).

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Botulinum Toxin Treatments

It is very important to choose a healthcare provider with the education, training and experience you can trust to administer your botox injections. There are 43 muscles in the face. The injections must be carefully placed so that specific muscles are treated while preserving your natural expressions. Your level of comfort with your plastic surgeon's office is particularly important because you will likely choose to maintain your results with additional botox treatments.

Because botox is a minimally-invasive and low-risk procedure, your consultation can usually be scheduled on the same day as your first treatment. At the consultation, you and your provider will discuss your goals for facial rejuvenation and address your questions and concerns. You will undergo an examination and be asked to review your medical history, including medications you currently take.

Following an evaluation of treatment options, you and your provider will determine the best way to proceed considering your age, skin type and wrinkle severity. Your provider should explain how the treatment will be performed, the full cost, the results that can be expected and the risks and possible complications. Photos may be taken so you can compare your results before and after your treatment with botulinum toxin type A.

Botox injections usually take less than 15 minutes and require no anesthesia. The needles used are very small and treatments are relatively painless. The number of injections varies according to the extent of your wrinkles and what is required to address your individual condition.

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Botulinum Toxin Costs

The cost of cosmetic wrinkle treatments with botulinum toxin type A can vary based on a number of factors, including:

  • The expertise and experience of the person who performs the treatment.
  • The amount of botulinum toxin used.
  • The number of areas treated and their location.

The cost of your botox treatments will be discussed when you are planning your procedure with your plastic surgeon. This discussion should include the cost of follow-up treatments or touch-ups that will be needed to maintain your results.

When investing in your appearance, remember that cost should not be the primary factor for selecting your healthcare provider. The experience and training of your surgeon and his or her staff, as well as your level of comfort with the practice and confidence in their ability to meet your expectations, are the most important parts of your evaluation.

Treatments with botulinum toxin for cosmetic reasons are not covered by most health insurance plans. The use of botox for medical reasons, such as to treat migraine headaches or muscle spasms, are sometimes covered. Many plastic surgeons offer access to convenient financing plans to make your procedure more affordable.

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Botulinum Toxin Risks

All procedures carry some degree of risk, but treatments with botulinum toxin are generally considered to have a low risk of complications or serious side effects. The best way to minimize your risk is to follow all instructions given to you by your plastic surgeon, both before and after your treatment with botulinum toxin type A.

Contact your plastic surgeon's office immediately if you have symptoms such as trouble breathing after botulinum toxin injections.

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Botulinum Toxin Recovery and Results

As a minimally-invasive cosmetic procedure with little risk, patients experience no downtime and can immediately resume normal activities after a treatment with botulinum toxin. However, strenuous activity should be avoided for the rest of the day.

The most common side effects after a botox treatment are a minor degree of redness, swelling, bruising and pain, which should resolve quickly. More rarely, patients may develop symptoms such as a headache, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness and fever.

Be sure to avoid rubbing or massaging the area that is treated with botox. This can result in the botulinum toxin spreading beyond the injected area and cause temporary weakness or drooping of facial muscles in addition to other symptoms.

A few days after a treatment with botulinum toxin type A, you should see noticeable results in the softening of dynamic wrinkles caused by repetitive facial movements. The results are temporary and usually last from 3 to 6 months. Thereafter, additional periodic treatments are required to maintain your results.

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