You’ve probably heard of a little thing called Botox, right? It’s a Hollywood staple for the rich and famous, but there is actually so much more to know about the injections than which celebrities religiously get them.
A drug made from Botulinum toxin, Botox is commonly used to weaken muscles for cosmetic purposes, like lessening forehead wrinkles, in order to appear more youthful. But did you know that it’s also used for medical reasons, like migraines and muscle spasms? Or that it takes just a matter of minutes to get done?
If you’re interested in possibly getting Botox and aren’t sure where to start (or if you’re just curious to learn more), keep reading for our full guide.
In this article:
- What is Botox?
- How is Botox used?
- How much does Botox cost?
- What happens during a Botox procedure?
- How long does Botox last? Plus other things you need to know
- Dysport vs Botox – what’s the difference?
- Top tips
What Is Botox?
Botox is a protein, or drug, that can be used for both cosmetic and medical purposes. Although it is a neurotoxin (a substance which alters the nervous system), when administered by a professional in small amounts, a Botox injection can have benefits.
By impeding nerve signals that indicate when muscles should contract, Botox can cause muscles to be temporarily paralyzed. This process can be utilized for many different procedures, depending on individual circumstances.
Someone may choose to have Botox for several reasons, whether it’s to reduce face wrinkles for a more youthful appearance, or to treat medical conditions, such as an overactive bladder.
How Is Botox Used?
Cosmetic facial procedures are the most common use for a Botox injection — mainly to aid relaxation of muscles that create lines around the eye area and forehead.
However, the reasons someone might use Botox may vary and these can be split between cosmetic and medical.
For cosmetic use
Botox is frequently used to reduce the appearance of facial lines. Some of the common cosmetic uses for Botox include:
- Wrinkles around the eyes – There are many causes for eye wrinkles, including aging, smoking and repetitive expressions such as smiling.
- Creases in the forehead – Repetitive frowning, loss of skin elasticity, genetics plus lack of skin hygiene and hydration can all come into play to cause forehead creases.
- Frown lines – Someone may notice frown lines on their face due to factors ranging from aging and frequent expressions to stress, sunlight and smoking.
- Lip lines, chin and corners of mouth – These are very normal facial lines and occur as part of the aging process. Exposure to sunlight, repetitive facial expressions and smoking can also contribute.
- Neck – Although wrinkles in the neck area are a standard part of the aging process, they can also be caused by repeatedly looking down at a phone or smoking, too.
For medical use
Botox isn’t purely used for cosmetic reasons — there are many medical complaints that can be improved with an injection. These include:
- Severe sweating – Also known as hyperhidrosis, severe sweating brings about perspiration even when conditions aren’t warm. Botox paralyzes the nerves that send signals to sweat glands.
- Cervical dystonia – This condition causes painful muscle contractions in the neck which can be treated with Botox injections.
- Migraines – Some people suffer migraines frequently and opt to have injections of Botox to reduce their regularity.
- Overactive bladder – When a bladder is overactive, it can cause incontinence but this can be minimized with an injection.
- Twitching eyes – People who suffer with muscle contractions around their eyes may choose to turn to Botox to calm the twitching.
How Much Does Botox Cost?
The exact cost of your Botox injections will depend on several contributing factors. Questions you may need to ask to calculate an accurate cost for your treatment include:
- Is it for medical or cosmetic purposes?
- Who is providing the treatment?
- Where is the treatment taking place?
- What is the number of Botox units being used?
Statistics gathered in 2020 state that the average Botulinum toxin injection cost is $466 — however, this can also vary depending on the wrinkles or medical complaint being treated.
A procedure can last around 30 minutes on average and treatments are also usually required to be repeated or topped up every four to six months. Therefore, the cost of repeat injections should also be included in your calculations.
It’s also possible to find deals on Botox with reputable practitioners which can help with reducing overall costs while getting the best possible results for your situation.
What Happens During a Botox Procedure?
Botox procedures take just a matter of minutes — they are performed without anesthetic and the practitioner providing the injection will use a small needle to target the specific treatment area.
What should I expect from a Botox injection?
Your experience of a Botox injection will differ depending on the reason for your treatment, however, each session usually lasts a few minutes.
There are two types of Botulinum toxin that have been approved for human use — toxin A is used for cosmetic purposes, while toxin B is the form used for medical conditions.
There are different brand types of Botulinum type A injectable available including Botox, Dysport, Xeomin and Jeveau, while MyoBloc is a type B brand.
Your practitioner will dilute the type of Botulinum toxin powder being used for your procedure into a saline solution and inject it into the tissue being targeted.
Having an initial consultation with a professional prior to making a final decision about your procedure may be important to ensure that Botox is the correct treatment for you. Once you decide, your practitioner may advise you to avoid taking anti-inflammatory medicine and blood thinning medications such as aspirin for two weeks leading up to the appointment. They may also suggest you stop drinking alcohol for a week before Botox injections.
The pre-procedure advice or requirements may differ depending on your reason for the treatment. For instance, if the Botox injections are being used to treat excess armpit sweating, you may be asked to avoid shaving the area for up to three days before. Additionally, if tender areas such as palms or soles of feet are being treated for a sweating complaint, you might request a numbing agent.
A Botox procedure usually takes just minutes and will be performed in your clinician’s office. You can expect to:
- Arrive for your appointment
- Confirm the procedure details with your practitioner
- Have a clinician use a thin needle to inject small amounts of Botulinum toxin into the treatment area
- Feel a small amount of discomfort
How many injections are required will depend on the complexity of the area being treated.
There are some things you can do after the procedure to ensure your Botox treatment takes full effect:
- Don’t rub the site of the Botox injection for at least 24 hours
- Avoid exercise for a day
- Remain upright for a while afterwards (around four hours)
These measures will assist with ensuring the Botulinum toxin doesn’t spread to an untreated area. It’s always advisable to confirm the details of what your clinician expects from your aftercare with them, specifically to ensure you’re following their suggested procedures.
How long does Botox take to work?
Depending on what the Botox injection has been used to treat, it may take 24-72 hours for the results to show and in some cases the full effects can take from 7-14 days. As the uses for Botulinum toxin differ, it’s a good idea to discuss what to expect directly with your clinician.
How Long Does Botox Last? Plus Other Things You Need to Know
There are a few things to be clear on before you make the decision to have a Botox treatment, such as understanding how long Botox lasts and what it’s made of.
How long does Botox last?
How long Botox lasts will be dependent on the complaint being treated. However, on average, the effects tend to last from three to six months, sometimes even up to a year. Follow-up appointments may be required regularly for upkeep — discuss with your practitioner how often yours may be required.
What is Botox made of?
Botox is made from the toxin Botulinum, which is produced from the bacterium known as Clostridium botulinum. Manufacturers of Botox injections use small amounts of Botulinum for preparations of both toxin A and B for commercial use.
Type A includes:
- onabotulinumtoxin A – Botox
- abobotulinumtoxin A – Dysport
- incobotulinumtoxin A – Xeomin
- prabotulinumtoxin A – Jeuveau
Type B includes:
- rimabotulinumtoxin B – MyoBloc
How many units of Botox should I get for my forehead?
There are a number of forehead injection sites, and the amount of units required for Botox injections for the forehead will vary depending on the individual needs. However, some clinicians inject around 10-30 units into the forehead on average.
What are the side effects of Botox?
Side effects to Botox treatments are generally rare, but some people may experience aftereffects such as:
- stomach upset
- minor bruising, swelling and discomfort
- dry eye (more common as a result of cosmetic Botox)
Dysport vs. Botox — What’s the Difference?
Although both Botox and Dysport are types of Botulinum toxin injections primarily used for cosmetic purposes, their protein potency differs.
What is the difference between Botox and Dysport?
There are a few differences between Botox and Dysport. For instance, in terms of cost, Dysport is usually cheaper than Botox. They can both be used for medical conditions, but their main purpose is to treat wrinkles.
Do they have different purposes?
While they do have similar uses in the treatment of visible lines on the face, what they’re approved to treat is different. Botox is approved for use on forehead wrinkles, lines around the eyes and the glabellar (between the eyebrows), while Dysport is only used for glabellar injections.
Are there differences in their effectiveness?
The results from a Dysport injection can often become apparent in a shorter time frame, however, the overall effects of Botox tend to last longer.
Are the benefits of each procedure different?
Both Botox and Dysport are considered convenient and effective treatments and they both require follow-up procedures.
- Engage in gentle facial exercises – Raising your eyebrows and smiling can speed up results of cosmetic Botox.
- Avoid makeup – Don’t wear makeup for at least 24 hours after facial Botox as it could move or spread the injected Botox into other areas of the face.
- Avoid sleeping on injected areas – This can reduce pressure and allow the Botox to take effect.
- Consult your clinician about medications – They can advise when it’s okay for you to resume taking them to help avoid bruising.
Can you get Botox while pregnant?
It’s generally advised by medical professionals to not get a Botox injection while you’re pregnant, especially if it’s for cosmetic purposes. However, if it’s required for medical reasons, it’s best to discuss your options with your doctor.
What is the difference between Botox and fillers?
Botox is predominantly used for lines around the eyes and on the forehead, while fillers are used to treat lines on other facial areas — check out our guide to cosmetic injections for more detail.
What does Botox do to muscles?
Botox weakens muscles so they can’t contract — in turn, this relaxes the injected muscles and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and facial lines without the need for surgery.
What not to do after Botox
There are a few things you shouldn’t do after having Botox. If your procedure is cosmetic, one of the main things to avoid is having other skin treatments — at least for the first 24 hours after the injections. This includes facials, exfoliation and fillers.