Botox is the most popular cosmetic procedure nationwide and is the #1 requested non-surgical cosmetic procedure.
What Is Botox?
Botox is a naturally occurring protein made from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum called botulinum toxin. People commonly use the name Botox (registered trademark of Allergan) interchangeably for various botulinum toxin A products. Botox and other treatments made with botulinum toxin are also referred to as neuromodulators or neurotoxins.
Is Botox Safe?
You might be thinking whoa, the word neurotoxin sounds poisonous and dangerous, and wondering if it safe, right? Clostridium botulinum is found in the environment where it is inactive and non-toxic. It is safe in the majority of people when administered by the recommended amounts by a trained and skilled injector.
People with who are pregnant, breastfeeding, have neuromuscular disorders or have had a previous allergic reaction to the drug or any of its ingredients should not receive Botox.
How Does It Work?
In order for muscles to contract, nerves release a chemical called acetylcholine where the nerve endings meet muscle cells. Acetylcholine attaches to receptors on the muscle cells and causes the muscle cells to contract or shorten. Botox injections prevent the release of acetylcholine, which stops muscle cells from contracting. Botox works by blocking nerve signals in the muscles where it is injected. When those nerve signals are interrupted, the affected muscle is temporarily immobilized. Without the movement of these selected muscles, certain wrinkles may be softened, reduced, or removed and new ones are prevented from forming.
What Is It Used For?
Botox is an FDA approved treatment commonly used to treat numerous medical issues (including migraine headaches, excessive sweating, muscle spasms, and overactive bladder) and cosmetically to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Where Is It Used?
Common facial areas people use Botox on include: frown lines, also called glabellar lines or “elevens”, wrinkles around the eyes, known as crows’ feet, horizontal creases in the forehead lines, at the corners of the mouth “cobblestone” skin on the chin. Botox is commonly used to treat forehead lines, wrinkles around the eyes, nasal scrunch lines, upper and lower lip lines, chin lines, and necklines. Additionally, Botox is used for eyebrow elevations, commonly referred to as chemical brow lift, and is often used in conjunction with other facial treatments.
How Long Will It Last?
Botox is not a permanent treatment. The effects are temporary with most people reporting that the muscle relaxing effect of Botox lasts for 3 to 4 months. Repeated treatments are required for its continued wrinkle-reducing effect.
What Is A Unit Of Botox?
Neuromodulators (such as Botox, Dysport, Xeomin, and Jeuveau) come in the form of a powder in a vial that must be diluted prior to administration. Units are the measurement (or strength) in which neuromodulators are measured. This would be similar to grams or milligrams in other drugs. The volume of a unit can vary and depends on the amount of normal saline used as a diluent. A diluent is a substance used to dilute something such as water or, as in this case, normal saline (liquid).
The concentration can be stronger when less saline is used or weaker when more saline is used. The yielding with the stronger or weaker concentration is the same amount of units but in different volumes. Although this can be confusing, there is an easy way to remember this. Think about making lemonade. The more water you add to the mix of sugar and lemons, the weaker it will be. Inversely, the less water added, the stronger it will be.
This can be advantageous when treating different areas. A stronger concentration may be preferable when used to treat smaller areas in which the provider would not want to administer a lot of volumes. A more diluted concentration may be best used in larger areas where this would be wanted or not be of much concern. When someone is referring to a “unit” of Botox, they are talking about the concentration, not the volume (commonly referred to as mL’s or cc’s) of the Botox.
Will My Wrinkles Become Worse If I Stop Using It?
This is a common misconception and the answer is no. When your Botox wears off, it will no longer be blocking the release of acetylcholine from motor neurons causing immobilization. Full mobility of the muscles that were once temporarily paralyzed will return along with dynamic wrinkles. Often time people get used to not seeing wrinkles or fine lines and assuming that stopping Botox treatment results in worsening of wrinkles. This is not true. The treated muscles will return to their pre-treated state.