Botox is a bacterial neurotoxin isolated from the bacterium clostridium botulinum. It acts on the nerve-muscle connection and induces a temporary and localised paralysis in the muscle. Botox is available in the market in pure form; known brands are Dysport, Vistable and Neurobloc.
Initially Botox was used to treat strabismus (“crossed eyes”); another area was muscle relaxation in spastics. Today, the toxin is mainly used for aesthetic purposes. Over the last 10 years its application has increased by about 600%. In the USA alone, 5.4 Botox injections were administered in 2010.
Frequently asked questions about Botox:
How does Botox work?
Botox induces a temporary paralysis in the muscle in an area 1-2 cm around the injection point. When applied to facial muscles, the muscle tone is reduced and the wrinkles caused by the contraction become smoother or disappear altogether.
Can Botox remove wrinkles?
Deep wrinkles become smoother, they do not fully disappear. However, Botox also prevents existing wrinkles from getting more pronounced. In case of deep wrinkles, Botox should be applied in conjunction with a dermal filler.
How long does the effect of Botox last?
Strong muscles recover after 3 months, weaker muscles after 4 months. After 6 months the effect is entirely reversed and the muscle returns to normal function.
How often should Botox treatment be repeated?
Every 4-6 months; in case of regular use, the interval can be extended. After some time, the body “unlearns” certain mimic expressions that cause wrinkles and the same effect can be achieved with lower doses.
Where in the face is Botox applied?
In the corner of the eye, between the eye brows and on the forehead. Other areas of application are the area around the mouth, and the neck.
- Botox smoothens the crow’s feet in the corner of the eye, lifts the ends of the eye brows and tightens the eye lids.
- Applied between the eye brows, it reduces or even prevents the vertical lines between the brows, and it slightly lifts the inner brow ends.
- On the forehead, Botox smoothens the frown lines and prevents new ones to form or exiting ones to become more pronounced.
- Botox smoothens small vertical wrinkles around the lips.
- Applied to the corners of the lips, Botox lifts the corners a bit.
- Applied between upper lip and nose, it lifts the tip of the nose a bit.
- Botox helps to reduce wrinkles on the ridge and at the sides of the nose. They occur when people laugh.
- It smoothens dimples and wrinkles on the point of the chin.
- Mona Lisa lift: Tightening of the skin along the jaw line.
- Tightening of so-called Turkey gobbler neck that is characterised by vertical muscle bands around the neck.
Where else is Botox applied?
To treat migraine and extreme sweating.
How is Botox used against sweating?
Botox is successfully used in the arm pits, on the sole of the foot and in the palm. The effect lasts for about 9 months. Applied once in the spring, it will bring you comfortably through the summer.
Is Botox used to fight migraines?
Botox is very effective in some types of migraine. Injections in the trigger points reduce the migraine’s severity and in individual cases even prevent it altogether.
Is Botox toxic?
Botox is a neurotoxin but its effect is local and not systemic. The FDA (American Food and Drug Administration) has approved its use against extreme sweating and its application around the eyes. No systemic effects have been observed even after prolonged use.
How is Botox applied?
It is injected in a surgeon’s office with the aid of very thin needles. The procedure is almost painless. The injection points are locally numbed with an anaesthetic crème, and cooled after the injection.
How long does a session take?
Several minutes only.
Are there any pre-conditions I have to comply with?
No medication with an anticoagulant (“blood-thinning”) effect (e.g. aspirin) must be taken for some time before the procedure.
What must I avoid afterwards?
For the first 2 hours after the injection, keep your head upright, don’t let it hang down; and avoid extreme heat (sauna, Turkish bath, etc.) for the first 3 days.
What are the possible side effects of Botox?
- There may be some bruising at the injection points which disappear after a few days. For this reason no anticoagulants must be taken because they would encourage bleeding.
- In the first few days, temporary headaches
- Hanging lids are the most important side effect. It happens when the injection point is too close to the eye lid and paralyses its muscle. In these cases, patients need to take eye drops until the effect is over.
- The most frequent problem is an unnatural facial expression. The reason is wrong application.
Does my facial expression get worse when the Botox effect ceases?
No. Botox prevents the deepening of existing wrinkles and the formation of new ones. When the effect ceases, your facial expression returns to its old state. Regular Botox use prevents the aging process to become visible through the formation of ever more wrinkles.
Is Botox used as filler?
No, Botox has no filling effect.
Does Botox impair my facial expression?
Not if it is correctly applied. The objective is not to prevent facial expression but to achieve a smooth and natural appearance.
Is Botox a snake poison?
No. Botox is isolated from the bacterium clostridium botulinum.