Botox Treatment: Does it work? How long does it last? Is it safe?

Fine lines creeping in? Stubborn winkles? Stop stop them in their tracks with Botox — a quick, affordable treatment with no down time and guaranteed, long-lasting results. But does it work? Is it safe? How long does it last? Here’s everything you need to know before you Botox.

What is botox?

Botox, or Botulinum Toxin A, is the brand name of a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Unlike regular botulinum toxin, Botox is not harmful to your health and does not cause illnesses associated with the toxin, such as Botulism. When it’s injected in very small, diluted quantities, Botox causes localized relaxation of the muscles.

So, what does this have to do with fine lines and wrinkles?

During a treatment for muscle dysfunction, where doctors injected a diluted solution of botulinum toxin type A, they noticed an interesting side effect: the skin around the injection site was smoother, and wrinkles were less apparent.

How did Botox come to be?

In 1987, Drs Alastair and Jean Carruthers, stumbled upon Botox by accident, and completely changed the face of the beauty industry.

Alastair was a Dermatologist, and his wife, Jean, an Opthamologist. Jean specialized in treating disorders such as blepharospasm, chronic blinking and spasming of the eye. The treatment?  A dilute solution of Botulinum toxin to paralyze the spasming muscles.

One day, a patient asked Jean to inject her forehead as well as her eye area. When Jean asked her why, she said, “because it makes my wrinkles go away.”

Being a Dermatologist, Alastair, was extremely interested in Jean’s patient and the side effects of her treatment. The next day, Alistair and Jean convinced their receptionist to let them inject her frown lines with Botulinum toxin, and the results were amazing.

Despite the results, neurotoxic injections were a hard sell. It took many years for the world to embrace the cosmetic applications of Botulinum Toxin Type A. The Carrrutherses pushed on, conducting trials and finding willing patients, eventually getting FDA approval for cosmetic use. By 1993 Botox was everywhere, and continues to be the most popular cosmetic procedure in the world.

You can read the full story here.

How does Botox work?

Simply put, Botox injections block the nerve signals that cause muscles to contract. So, when your brain signals a certain muscle to move, Botox blocks the signal, rendering the muscle incapable of movement. Once a muscle has been injected, it can no longer contract, which causes wrinkles to relax and soften. It can also prevent new wrinkles from forming. Wrinkles caused by sun damage and gravity will not respond to Botox, but they will respond beautifully to dermal fillers. You can read more about dermal fillers here.

But, won’t my face go numb?

Great question. No, Botox won’t cause any loss of sensation. There are 2 different types of nerves in your body: one type signals movement and the other type signals sensation, or feeling. Botox only blocks the nerve signals responsible for movement, so you won’t experience any numbness.

What can be treated with Botox?

Botox is primarily used to smooth, soften, and reduce dynamic wrinkles. These are the wrinkles caused by smiling, frowning, furrowing your brow, or other movements of your facial muscles. Patients commonly seek treatment for Glabella (frown lines), frontal lines (horizontal forehead lines), crow’s feet (smile lines around the eyes), bunny lines (lines around the bridge of your nose from nose squinting) smokers lines (lines on the top lip), chin dimpling, and lines on the neck. Static wrinkles (caused by sun damage or gravity) will not respond to Botox, but can be treated with dermal fillers.

Botox can also be used to change the shape of the face. Patients looking to soften or elongate a square jawline can have Botox injected into their Masseter muscles. This relaxes the muscles along the jawline, resulting in a gentler appearance. Botox injections can lift a drooping nasal tip, and even reduce an overly gummy smile.

Botox isn’t just for cosmetic treatments. Because Botox affects muscle function, it can be very effective in treating neuromuscular conditions like lazy eye, eye twitches, incontinence caused by overactive bladder muscles, and chronic migraines.  

Struggle with excessive sweating? Botox can treat that, too. In people with Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating of palms, feet, underarms), the nerves that signal the sweat glands are overactive. Botox works by blocking the nerves responsible for activating sweat glands, so you don’t sweat. Like all Botox treatments, it’s only effective where it’s injected.

What’s the difference between Botox, Dysport and Xeomin? Is one better than the other?

While Botox is the best-known treatment on the market, Dysport, and Xeomin are also widely used. Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin are all brand names for the same product –  Botulinum Toxin A. They are very similar products, last the same amount of time (some clients state that Dysport lasts longer). The only real difference between the three products is that Botox and Dysport contain proteins (each contain a different protein) and Xeomin is stripped of protein.

Why is this important?

Research shows that our bodies can develop resistance to proteins, which means over time, Botulinum Toxin A treatments may become less effective and less long lasting. By alternating products, you won’t develop protein resistance as quickly. If you plan on regular Botox injections, ask us about how we can integrate different products into your treatment.

You should also be aware of the ingredients in each product in case of allergy.

The ingredients in BOTOX are:
Active ingredient: botulinum toxin Type A.
Inactive ingredients: human albumin and sodium chloride.

The ingredients in DYSPORT are:
Active ingredient: botulinum toxin Type A
Inactive ingredients: human albumin and lactose. Dysport may contain cow’s milk protein.

Do not use Dysport if you are allergic to cow’s milk protein.

The ingredients in XEOMIN are:
Active ingredient: botulinum toxin Type A Inactive ingredients: human albumin, sucrose.

We’re happy to answer any questions about available products to ensure you get the best results.

Is Botox safe?

Yes, Botox is completely safe. The amount of Botulinum Toxin A in a cosmetic injection is about 100 units. That’s 25-30 times less than the amount that would cause harm or illness. To avoid any complications, be sure that your Botox injections are administered by a licensed professional.

What’s a good age to get Botox?

The short answer is, there’s no right age to get Botox. The most appropriate age to start Botox will depends on many factors—Do you have a very expressive face? Do you have sun damage? Do you frown or squint a lot? Are you genetically predisposed to wrinkles? Do you have light or dark skin? Some people start to see wrinkles in their 20s, some later on in life.

Most specialists recommend Botox when your wrinkles start sticking around, meaning you can see them when your you’re not making any facial expressions. Most patients begin to consider Botox in their 40s, because this is typically when wrinkles start to take hold. The bottom line is, Botox is right when it’s right for you.

Can botox prevent wrinkles?

Botox is actually best used as a preventative treatment. It works by relaxing facial muscles and the overlying skin, so you don’t get wrinkles in the first place. Some patients start Botox in their mid-twenties, especially if they have expressive faces.

Most younger patients opt for “Baby Botox”, highly targeted, micro doses of Botox. This offers the benefits of muscle relaxation with almost no chance of your features appearing frozen.

It’s my first time, is there anything I should know?

Before your Botox treatment, you’ll meet with us for a
free consultation. We’ll get to know you and your medical history to determine if Botox is the right treatment option for you. We’ll discuss the areas you wish to have treated and answer any questions you may have. We’ll also determine exactly how much Botox you need (it’s priced by the unit.)

If this is your first Botox treatment, there are a few things to consider:

Are you taking any medications? We’ll need to know any and all the medications you take to ensure Botox will not react with any of them.

Do you have any medical conditions? If you have muscle or nerve conditions (especially related to your facial muscles or nerves) trouble swallowing, or respiratory issues, you may not be able to receive Botox injections.

Have you had any facial surgery? Procedures such as brow or face lifts, or any surgery of the face or jaw, can impact your treatment.

Are you pregnant? Botox is not generally recommended for pregnant or nursing women. While studies indicate little to no risk, more data is needed. Most specialists err on the side of caution and recommend putting off treatment until after your baby is born.


Okay, what can I expect during my Botox treatment?

Getting Botox is incredibly easy and typically takes about 20 minutes. Here’s what you can expect at your appointment:

  • We’ll review the treatment areas and amount of Botox we discussed in our consultation.
  • Our specialist will mark the treatment areas.
  • Our specialist will clean the treatment areas to prepare them for the Botox injection.
  • We’ll offer ice or numbing cream if you’re concerned about pain at the injection site.
  • Using a micro needle, our specialist will inject Botox directly into the appropriate facial muscles
  • We’ll apply ice and pressure to discourage swelling or bruising at the injection site.
  • You’re good to go right away!How much Botox will I need?

The amount varies from person to person, but typically a specialist will use:

  • 20-30 units in the forehead area
  • 20-30 units for crow’s feet
  • 50-80units for Masseters (jawline )
  • 30-50 units for Platysma (necklines)
  • 4-6 units for lips
  • 3-6 units for the chin
  • 5-10 units for a brow lift

Is there any down time after getting Botox?

No, there’s no downtime after getting Botox. You can go straight back to work or get on with your day.

It’s extremely rare, but Botox can migrate to other muscles after treatment. You can take the following post-treatment precautions to avoid unintended damage or side effects:

  • Be careful not to rub or massage of the injected area for 4 hours after treatment. If you’re having discomfort, treat it with ice and Advil or Tylenol.
  • Do not lie down for 4 hours after treatment.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hrs

Are there any side effects associated with Botox?

As with any treatment, there  may be side effects. The potential side effects of Botox are rare and mild, and usually subside within a few days. Potential side effects include pain, swelling or bruising at the injection site, numbness, and headache or flu- like symptoms.

More serious side effects can include rashes, major swelling, difficulty breathing, or a serious allergic reaction. If you experience any of these side effects, seek medical help immediately.

How soon will I see results?

The results from Botox aren’t immediate. You’ll start to see an effect after 3-5 days, with full results after two weeks.

Results include smoothing of skin, softening of wrinkles, and a relaxed look. The longer you use Botox, fewer new wrinkles form and the older ones are held at bay.

When you first start Botox, allow 4 months in between treatments. It takes time for your skin to develop new collagen and fill in depressions caused by muscle contractions. Wrinkles will soften more easily with each treatment.

Botox treatment results. Before and after photo.

Is Botox permanent? How long does it last?

No, Botox is not permanent. Botox treatments last about 4 months, after which the effects of the toxin wear off and more treatment is needed. Generally speaking, the larger the muscle, the shorter the effect. Botox may last longer on smaller muscles.

Botox typically lasts:

  • 3 to 5 months in forehead areas (frown lines, horizontal lines, brow lift)
  • 3 to 4 months for jawline slimming
  • 4 to 6 months for Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)

You can prolong your results by following a good, gentle skincare regime and wearing SPF religiously.

How much do Botox injections cost?

Botox is priced by the unit, so the cost varies depending on the treatment. Typical treatment costs anywhere from $150 to $300. To give you a sense, a forehead treatment costs between $250 and $300, and wrinkles around the eyes costs between $150 and $250.

The bottom line:

Botox is a safe, minimally invasive treatment for wrinkles and fine lines. It has few side effects, no down time, and visible, lasting results. It’s popularity continues to grow, with millions of people getting injected each year. If you want to look refreshed, or you’re concerned about the lines cropping up on your face, give us a call. We’d love to see you for a free consultation.