When you think of Botox, odds are you have a few stereotypes in mind about what exactly the treatment entails. Maybe you think of wealthy celebrities, desperately trying to cling to youth. Maybe you think of risky home procedures that end up in facial swelling and hospital visits. Or perhaps you picture someone with a frozen face, struggling to smile and drink liquids in a normal way. In any case, most of those cartoonish stereotypes are just Botox myths.
But what exactly is Botox? For starters, the solution itself is a highly purified protein derived from the bacterial toxin botulin. It’s a muscle relaxer that is injected directly in a patient’s face in specific, strategic locations, on an outpatient basis. It’s rejuvenating effects on the skin were a major innovation for cosmetic dermatology.
A Brief Botox Overview
Most individuals who seek out Botox treatments do so to soften and eliminate existing wrinkles on their face while also preventing any new wrinkles from forming around the eyes and forehead. Specifically, it’s commonly used for treating crow’s feet, frown lines, and surprise lines.
Crow’s feet appear on the sides of your eyes, which can be noticed more when squinting. Frown lines are the vertical lines that appear between eyebrows when, you guessed it, frowning. Finally surprise lines appear as horizontal lines on the forehead. They can most easily be noticed when eye brows are raised, as the name suggests, in a surprised manner.
Static Vs Dynamic Wrinkles
Static wrinkles are, well, static! They stay on your face when you are not actively making any expressions and are formed from the repetitive movement of the same facial muscles over the years. Dynamic wrinkles are those that form during more expressive facial expressions and contortions.
Botox actually works by relaxing those muscles just below the surface of the skin, and reducing the appearance of those lines that form over time from making the same, repetitive facial expressions. Millions of people receive Botox treatment every year, making it one of the most common cosmetic procedures that take place in the dermatology industry. Despite its popularity, many Botox myths still pervade in the general public’s understanding of the treatment. Let’s explore and debunk 5 common Botox myths.
Myth: Botox is Toxic and Will Cause Botulism
Doctors have been using Botox in cosmetic procedures for over 15 years. Even prior to its 2002 FDA approval for treating facial wrinkles, Botox has been used since the 1980s to treat other muscular and medical conditions. Millions of people receive the treatment every year, and it is a time-tested and proven solution for eliminating and preventing wrinkles.
The main safety concerns arise depending on who is administering the treatment. You should feel safe when a board certified dermatologist is administering Botox. Mail-order kits, home Botox parties, or shady, backroom treatment centers should absolutely be avoided.
Despite a potential difference in price, it goes without saying that someone who is not a board certified dermatologist will lack the necessary experience and knowledge to properly administer the treatment. Furthermore, you put yourself at risk to potentially receive a product that is not pure and potentially very dangerous.
The protein solution is derived from the bacteria toxin Clostridium botulinum. It exists on its own in nature, and comes from the bacteria that causes botulism; a rare food poisoning. Botulism effects the body’s central nervous system, causing paralysis, difficulty speaking and swallowing, among other symptoms. Botulism is dangerous and can be fatal if left untreated, however it is not caused by Botox treatment injections. In fact, Botox alone will not travel throughout the body beyond the site of injection.
Myth: Botox Will “Freeze” Your Face
This myth is probably one of the most prevalent stereotypes of Botox treatment, often played up in film and television for comedic purposes. While it certainly can happen in the hands of a poor injector, the “frozen” face look or an expressionless face usually results from too much Botox.
Again, Botox works to relax the muscles in your face just below the surface of your skin as an anti-aging treatment. The focus is to treat and prevent wrinkles along the forehead, smile lines, and crow’s feet around the eyes. When performed correctly, your facial expressions will still be able to convey your normal array of emotions.
An experienced doctor will know the amount and number of units to use in your treatment as well as the proper injection points to avoid overdoing it. Botox treatment is safe, however it is a precise procedure. Having the right injector will help ensure that resting and animated facial expressions look natural.
Follow-up appointments are often encouraged to assess the quality of treatment results and prevent any issues from arising.
Myth: The Effects of Botox are Permanent and the Treatment is Painful
Fortunately, if you are unhappy with the initial results, Botox is NOT permanent. In fact, results usually take a few days to manifest their full effect and will last around three to four months on average. While this varies somewhat depending on the patient, anyone wishing to maintain results throughout the year will get as many as four treatments throughout the year.
Within those first few days, once the muscles in the face begin to relax, patients will notice the appearance of age lines and wrinkles in the treated areas begin to fade and become less noticeable.
Now as far as pain goes, anytime the subject of needles arises, the question of pain tends to follow closely behind. Since Botox injections do involve the use of needles entering areas of the face, these questions and concerns are totally understandable.
Therefore it’s important to point out that anytime needles are involved, a small amount of pain can be expected from the procedure. However on average, most patients report that the pain is minimal. Especially given that the needles used for Botox injections are quite small.
Of course, the amount of pain will vary depending on individual pain tolerance. However topical anesthetics to numb the surface of your skin are available to further decrease any possible pain when scheduled in advance. Furthermore, depending on the extent of your treatment, the actual procedure shouldn’t last too long.
Myth: Botox is Used for Cosmetic Aesthetics Only
When it was first FDA approved in 1989, Botox was used to treat a variety of medical conditions. Though now it’s widely known for its cosmetic benefits, Botox rose in prominence in being primarily administered in the elimination and prevention of facial wrinkles. It’s now one of the most popular treatments in aesthetic dermatology.
However, even today it still has a surprising number of alternative uses. The FDA approved Botox in the treatment of multiple, varied diseases. Under these circumstances, they should always be recommended and administered by a licensed, board-certified, experienced physician.
Botox is FDA approved to treat the following conditions:
Excessive underarm sweating
Eyelid muscle spasms
Severe neck spasms
Additionally, though not FDA approved, studies have been conducted to also use Botox in treating other conditions such as abnormal heartbeat after heart surgery, depression, cleft lip scars in babies, severely cold hands, among other ailments.
Myth: Botox Treatment is Addictive
Another Botox stereotype perpetuated in popular and comedic media is the idea that Botox is addictive. In these instances the individual may continually receive treatments until their face exhibits the “frozen” qualities mentioned earlier. However, there are actually zero addictive properties within the actual Botox solution itself. Therefore it’s impossible to be physically addicted to treatments.
Like any habit that produces positive results, it’s possible that an individual who is particularly pleased or happy with the effects of Botox wishes to continue pursuing it as a means to look younger and more vibrant.
Time and quality work have mostly dispelled the silly notions surrounding Botox myths. Now, millions of people receive the treatment each year for its powerful cosmetic and anti-aging properties in eliminating and preventing facial wrinkles. If you think you might be interested in Botox cosmetic treatments, but still have questions about the procedure, reach out to us at the Dermatology Center of Acadiana today and schedule a consultation!