It is likely safe to say that most people have heard of Botox injections. It seems as though half of the celebrities we see on television each day have tried Botox at least once. However, not everyone has a firm understanding of what exactly Botox injections are and what medical benefits they can provide. For many, Botox is a great way to achieve the minimization of lines and wrinkles, without undergoing painful, invasive, and expensive cosmetic surgery procedures. The popularity of Botox injections for cosmetic purposes has grown significantly since the Food and Drug Administration first approved the product in 2002.
What is Botox?
Botox injections are the most popular, non-surgical cosmetic treatment available. It is estimated that more than six million people have Botox injections each year. The injected component of Botox injections is derived from a naturally occurring bacteria called Clostridium Botulinum. If you paid attention in high school science class, this particular bacterium may ring a bell or even set off alarm flags. True, the Clostridium Botulinum bacteria is a very powerful bacterium that can, under specific situations, lead to Botulism poisoning, which is very serious and frequently fatal. But wait, don’t panic yet. Clostridium Botulinum is an organism that occurs naturally throughout the environment in soil, lakes, and forests. Under normal circumstances, it is inactive and generally harmless. The Clostridium Botulinum bacteria also occur naturally in the intestinal tracts of mammals and fish and in the gills of shellfish and crabs. Problems arise when the bacteria cells mutate and begin to produce the botulism toxin. Botulism, the illness that results from coming into contact with (more specifically, ingesting) these mutated bacteria, is very dangerous and, in many cases, fatal.
Despite the potential dangers associated with the bacteria itself, Botox injections are still in very high demand, and the injections have proven to be a successful and valuable therapeutic treatment.
How does Botox work?
The Botulinum toxin can be injected into the skin in extremely small concentrations as part of a cosmetic treatment routine. The injections work by effecting how the muscles in the area contract. Muscles contract when the nerves in the muscle are stimulated to release a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. This release occurs at the junction where the nerve endings of the muscles meet the muscle cells. Acetylcholine works to cause the muscles to lengthen or shorten depending on the command being sent to the nerves from the brain. The Botox injections prevent the release of acetylcholine and thus prevent the contraction of muscle cells. In the case of wrinkles and fine lines, Botox injections relax the muscles under your skin, again by blocking the nerve responses which tell specific parts of your face to do things. Wrinkles and fine lines are caused by your face making the same expressions over and over. The Botox injections limit your muscle response to specific areas of your face and, thus, limit the ability to make the expressions that are causing your wrinkles.
What are Botox injections used for?
Botulinum injections are most commonly used as a treatment for reducing the appearance of facial wrinkles and fine lines on the face. These can appear on the forehead, around the eyes, and near the mouth. However, Botox is not only used for cosmetic treatments. It is also used to treat a large number of medical conditions, including eye squints, migraines, excess sweating, and leaky bladders. At this time, Botox injections are used to treat more than twenty different medical conditions, and additional medical applications are currently being investigated. Some of the other conditions Botox is used to treat (in addition to fine lines and wrinkles) include:
- Eyelid spasms
- Lazy eye
- Neck and shoulder spasms
- Chronic migraine headaches
- Crossed eyes (Strabismus)
- Bladder overactivity
- Facial Spasms
- Glabellar lines (frown lines located between the eyebrows)
- Canthal lines (crow’s feet)
What are the potential risks of Botox injections?
As a rule, Botox injections are relatively safe (and quite effective) when the procedure is performed by an experienced provider. This does not mean the procedure is always without potential side effects. As with any medical intervention, there are a variety of possible side effects to Botox injections, some of which are more common than others. Some of the more common side effects associated with Botox injections include:
- Pain, swelling or bruising at the injection site
- Headaches or flu-like symptoms
- Droopy eyelids or eyebrows – for injections placed near the eyes or in the forehead
- Crooked smile or drooling – for injections placed near the mouth
- Eye dryness or excessive tearing
There are other, much less common side effects. For a very small part of the population (less than one percent), the initial injections may produce a reaction that makes future reactions ineffective. It is also possible, although highly unlikely, for the toxin used in the Botox injections to spread within your body. This could be dangerous and requires immediate medical attention. So side effects such as muscle weakness, vision problems, difficulty speaking or swallowing, respiratory problems, or loss of bladder control need to be reported to your provider immediately.
One very important thing to note regarding Botox injections is the importance of selecting your provider carefully. It is important that the injections are placed properly and precisely in order to limit the potential of side effects. At Solarlaser, we will discuss the treatment process with you and help you to determine if Botox injections are the right procedure for your needs. It is important to let your provider know if you have had Botox injections at any time in the last four months. Botox injections are generally carried out in your provider’s office, and the number of injections will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of the area being treated. While most people do not feel much in the way of discomfort during the procedure, it is possible to request the area be treated with a numbing agent prior to your injections; especially if you are having sensitive areas treated such as your palms or armpits. The injection process consists of your provider using a small, thin needle to inject small amounts of the botulinum toxin into your skin or muscles.
After the procedure, you should not rub or massage the area for at least twenty-four hours. This will help to reduce the chances of the toxin spreading to areas outside of the intended treatment area. Unlike many other cosmetic procedures, there is no recovery or recuperation time associated with Botox treatments, and you can return to your normal daily activities immediately.
Botox injections usually begin working between one and three days after your treatment is complete. The duration of their effectiveness will depend a little on the area or condition being treated. In some cases, the effect of the Botox injections may last three months or longer. Unfortunately, unlike some surgical procedures, the results of Botox injections are not permanent, and you will need to return to your provider on a regular basis to have your injections repeated in order to maintain their desired effect.
If you have tried other over the counter wrinkle treatments such as creams and face washes and they have not worked or if you are considering Botox injections and you have questions about whether Botox treatments may be right for you, give us a call or visit us here at Solara. We would be happy to teach you more about how Botox injections may be able to help you achieve the skin you have wished about. Contact Solara, Alaska’s premier skin and last center today to learn more about our Botox Cosmetics.