What Is Botox: The Complete Guide
What is Botox? It's a question people have been asking since the early '90s, when Hollywood celebrities seemed to stop aging and friends of friends came back from the dermatologist looking very refreshed. By now, most Americans know the basics of the injections—that they're designed to smooth wrinkles by paralyzing facial muscles. But do you know what areas they treat? How many units of Botox for crow's feet? Do you know how long it takes for Botox to work?
Here's a closer look at the wrinkle-fighter, including what it is exactly and how it works.
What is Botox?
Put simply, Botox is a medication injected into muscles in order to temporarily smooth crow's-feet around the eyes and frown lines on the forehead. It contains a highly purified botulinum-toxin protein.
How does Botox work?
Whenever you frown, laugh, or squint, certain facial muscles contract, creating lines on the face. Botox temporarily reduces this muscle activity by paralyzing these facial muscles, which helps to visibly smooth crow's feet lines and frown lines.
How long does it take for Botox to work? How long does Botox last?
Botox might be known as a lunchtime procedure—the actual injections take only 10 minutes—but results generally don't show up for 24–48 hours. A week later, faces look noticeably smoother, with optimal results showing up after a month.
In fact, in the manufacturer's clinical studies, 67.9% of people had mild or no crow's-feet on the 30th day after treatment, and 80% of people had significantly softened frown lines. The effects typically wear off in three to four months.
What are the Botox injection sites?
As noted above, the most common Botox injection sites are around the eyes and on the forehead. For a visual breakdown of injection sites, and for information regarding the number of units needed for each area, check out our Guide to Botox Injections for the Face.
Botox for migraines
Botox may be best known as a miracle wrinkler-eraser, but it also does way more! Since 2010, it's been an FDA-approved treatment for those suffering from chronic migraines. For more information, read our article on How Botox Can Help a Headache.
Botox for sweating
Botox has also been used as an effective treatment for excessive sweating. When injected in the underarms, palms, or feet, the substance helps deactivate sweat glands in much the same way it hampers muscle contractions. For more information, see our Guide to Botox and Sweating.
How much does Botox cost?
Cost varies, as some clinics choose to charge per unit and others per area. The average price is about $20 per unit, and a single treatment might use anywhere from 20 to 60 units per area. Expect to pay about $500 to $800 per session on average, or check our site for great deals on Botox near you.
What are Botox reviews like?
Check out what some of our customers had to say about their Botox experience:
"Carrie, the nurse who did the injections was awesome. Painless and passionate about her job. the office was gorgeous and clean. will be going back without a Groupon."- from Claudia P.'s review of Chicago Institute of Plastic Surgery
"I had 25 units of Botox done by Dr. Goldberg on my forehead and frown lines. Few days later I could see the result with which I was very happy! [...] I have done Botox few times before with other specialists, after which my face would resemble a doll [...] However, after procedure with Dr. Goldberg, I am still able to lift my eyebrows and frown without forming any wrinkles." - from Dinara D.'s review of Alexander Golberg Physician PC in New York.
"This is my 8th time doing Botox like treatments and I have to say this treatment has had the very best results of all. I must mention the staff is cheerful and enthusiastic, a pleasure."- from K. S.'s review of Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Center in Los Angeles
What about Botox alternatives?
Since Botox made its first appearance in the med-spa world, a number of similar treatments have also become available. These include Dysport, another Botulinum toxin type A injectable, as well as dermal fillers (which use hyaluronic acid to plump skin) such as Juvéderm, Restylane, and Perlane. The decision to choose Botox vs Dysport or Botox vs a dermal filler depends largely on the results you're hoping to achieve. For more information, check out our side-by-side compairson charts, or consult the following guides:
Are there side effects to Botox?
When injected properly, Botox injections don't require a lot of downtime. Patients can typically resume all their normal activities immediately after a treatment.
That's not to say the injections are completely risk-free, however. Mild redness, bruising, and swelling can crop up in the days following a treatment, and more serious complications aren't unheard of.
Contrary to popular belief, the bacteria that causes botulism, clostridium botulinum, is not part of the treatment, nor are six of the seven neurotoxins it secretes. The only substance used in Botox injections, botulinum toxin A, is carefully extracted, purified, and standardized into FDA-approved doses. Plus, the dosage is so small, it can't get beyond the muscle tissue it's injected into, meaning there's little if any chance for Botox to reach the bloodstream.
What's the right age for Botox?
There's no right or wrong age to get Botox injections, and some patients in their 20s opt to get the injections as a preventative measure. Regardless of age, many patients might find they have to field questions from friends and family about their decision. Read our Botox Advice article for tips on how to handle such situations, provided by a Physician's Assistant and a long-time Botox user.
Can Botox be used for lip injections?
No. Dermal fillers such as Juvéderm and Restylane are typically used in lip injections. If you're interested in lip fillers, check out our first-hand account from someone who's tried them.