Botox (botulinum toxin type A) is a protein produced by the bacteria Clostridium Botulinum and has been used in medicine for many years. Originally, Botox was applied in ophthalmology – it provided patients with temporary relief from uncontrollable blinking and spasming of the eye and surrounding area. It was also successful in patients with facial spasms, neck and shoulder spasms, even vocal cord spasms. Its cosmetic qualities were discovered by accident – while used when treating partial facial palsy, it was observed that Botox considerably reduced the appearance of facial wrinkles.
Botox blocks signals from the nerves to the muscles. The injected muscle can no longer contract and becomes less stiff which causes the wrinkles to relax and soften.
Botox isn’t unfortunately a universal method effective in fighting all types of wrinkles. Because of its specific properties it is most often used on:
Botox is also very useful in treating excess sweating (face, palms, feet and armpits).
The patient is placed in a somewhat raised position on the exam table, and the areas to be injected are cleansed with a nonalcohol cleanser. The procedure is usually carried out without any anaesthetic but in case of very sensitive patients a topical aesthetic, such as Emla cream can be applied 30 minutes prior to the treatment. Botox is then injected into the desired areas with a very fine needle. The procedure lasts 10-15 minutes.
Straight after the treatment and for the following couple of hours, the patient should avoid lying down. If bruising is a concern, it will be important for the patient to avoid taking aspirin or related products, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), if possible, after the procedure to keep bruising to a minimum. The patient shouldn’t massage or scrape the areas where Botox was injected. It is not recommended to use a solarium for a week after the treatment.
The final result will be evident within a week but the first softening of wrinkles can be observed after a few days. The desired effect of naturally younger and smoother skin is known to last for 3-12 months. In case of deep wrinkles, the procedure needs to be repeated after 3 months.
Injections with botulinum toxin are generally well tolerated and there are few side effects. Among the most common ones might be minimal swelling, occasionally some bruising, and slight muscle tightening. In very rare cases, flu-like symptoms can occur lasting a day or two. Transient eyelid drooping is sometimes seen, and settles within 2-3 weeks.