Botox® injections block signals from the nerves to the muscles. The injected muscle can no longer contract as forcefully, which causes the wrinkles to relax and soften.
What are Botox® injections?
Botox® is the brand name of a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In large amounts, this toxin can cause a form of muscle paralysis known as botulism, which is usually associated with food poisoning. Even though one of the most serious complications of botulism is paralysis, scientists have discovered a way to use it to human advantage. Small, diluted (weakened) amounts can be directly injected into specific muscles, causing controlled relaxation of the muscles.
How does Botox® work?
Botox® blocks the signal from the nerve to the muscles. The injected muscle can no longer contract (tighten) as forcefully, which causes the wrinkles to relax and soften.
Botox® can be used on the forehead lines, frown lines, crow’s feet, bunny lines (lines in the nose), chin (for dimpling), skin bands on the neck, and around the mouth (for smoker’s lines and down-turned corners of the mouth). Wrinkles caused by sun damage and gravity often will not respond to Botox®. It is important to re-emphasize that Botox® is NOT a facial filler (that is, it does not fill existing wrinkles) – it merely relaxes the muscles that are creating those wrinkles.
How is the Botox® injection procedure performed?
Botox® is injected with a fine needle into specific muscles, with only minor discomfort. The procedure takes only a few minutes and no anesthesia is required. It generally takes 3 to 7 days, but sometimes even as long as 2 weeks, to take full effect. It is best to avoid alcohol at least one week before treatment. Aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications should be stopped 2 weeks before treatment (if given permission by a physician) in order to reduce the risk of bruising.
How long does a Botox® injection last?
The effects of Botox® will last four to 6 months. As muscle action gradually returns, the lines and wrinkles begin to reappear and will need to be re-treated to maintain the effect. After repeated injections, the lines and wrinkles will often appear less severe because the muscles are being trained to relax.