What Is Botox? Is It Safe?
Botox, which is a brand name of a toxin derived from bacterium Clostridium botulinum, was first developed for muscle spasm, uncontrollable blinking, and pain management. But when doctors have discovered that this chemical can relax the facial muscles which then results to reduced facial wrinkles and lines, it has become one of the most popular non-invasive skin rejuvenation procedures in the US.
If Botox is used to treat medical problems, there is a chance that it will be covered by insurance policy; however, this is not the case if it is performed for cosmetic reasons.
In large amounts, Botox may cause botulism or food poisoning, however, this is relatively safe if used in small, diluted dose. In fact, a 2008 study conducted in Germany has shown that less than 1 percent of 1,000 patients who received Botox injections, specifically in their face and neck, had experienced serious side effects.
In 1980s, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Botox in treating uncontrollable blinking and “lazy eye.” And in April 2002, the agency has allowed this treatment to be used in moderate to severe glabellar lines or more commonly referred to as frown lines between the eyebrows. But nowadays, this is also injected in other areas of the face which have wrinkles. While there is a very low risk with the use of Botox in small amounts, this should not be given to patients who have a neurological disease, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers.
How Botox Works
The botulinum toxin blocks signals from nerves to the muscles which then prevents the latter from contracting, as a result, the wrinkles caused by excessive facial movements begin to relax and soften, particularly the crow’s feet and forehead creases. Meanwhile, wrinkles caused by hanging tissue and sun damage will not respond to this treatment. Because Botox does not treat all types of wrinkles, a patient should consult her doctor or dermatologist before having this procedure.
Two weeks before Botox treatment, a patient should stop taking aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs and alcohol in order to minimize bruising during her recovery.
During the procedure, a doctor injects the Botox with the use of a fine needle into certain muscles; the entire treatment only takes a few minutes and without the use of local anesthesia since the discomfort is very minor.
In most cases, the full effects of Botox can be seen three to seven days following the treatment.
How Long Does Botox Last?
The result of Botox for first-time patients will often last four to six months, and after this period, they will notice that their wrinkles and lines begin to appear again. However, the succeeding treatments will last longer as the muscles become more relax.
Common Side Effects of Botox Treatment
The most common side effects of the procedure is temporary bruising and mild swelling, although a small percentage of patients experience drooping eyelid which often happens when Botox travels to this area. To avoid this problem which may last for three weeks, it is important not to rub the injection site or lie down for four hours. A small number of patients also experience nausea and headache which usually resolve within 24 to 48 hours.