According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), botulinum toxin injections have been the number one aesthetic procedure for plastic surgeons since 1999. Second comes hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers such as Juvéderm, Restylane, Belotero and the like. But in 2018 alone, botulinum toxin procedures more than doubled the number of HA fillers administered, so go figure.
Talk to a bunch of friends about Botox and you might as well start a political debate. Fans are vehemently loyal, while others think it’s ridiculous, unnecessary or just downright vain. OK, so people are entitled to an opinion, but here at HintMD we believe everyone deserves to be their best selves – and if Botox guides them to that place, then right on.
So, before you decide which camp you’re in, let’s take a deeper look at the real facts.
1. What IS Botox?
Like Sharpie, Kleenex and Band-Aid before it, Botox is the common name most people use for the neuromuscular injectable toxin known as botulinum toxin type A.
Historically, botulinum toxin was used to benefit patients suffering from involuntary muscle spasms associated with illnesses such as cerebral palsy. It was further developed in the 1970s by an ophthalmologist in San Francisco while searching for a cure for crossed eyes, and in 1989 the FDA approved its use for treating not only crossed eyes (strabismus), but also for twitching eyelids and involuntary blinking (blepharospasm).
As botulinum toxin became more commonly used, it became obvious it had multiple capabilities within the human body, and when post-procedure patients began to report unexpected but very positive side-effects from Botox including smoother skin, the aesthetics industry started to get very excited.
Fast-forward to the present day and botulinum toxin type A is now the industry go-to for the treatment of frown lines known as glabellar lines and crow’s feet, or lateral canthal lines.
2. Botox Should Relax, Rather Than Totally Paralyze Muscles
Injections of Botox act like microscopic, poisonous darts when injected into the skin. These injections work by temporarily blocking chemical nerve impulses to specific muscles and glands, therefore controlling their movement and restricting their activity. When it comes to treating fine lines and wrinkles, because the injected muscle is no longer able to contract, this causes the wrinkles to soften and relax.
That being said, Botox should never remove all traces of life and expression from your face. Ever heard the phrase ‘less is more’? When it comes to Botox, this has never been more true.
3. The Early Bird Catches The Worm
While erring on the side of caution is always a good thing, preventative Botox for those in their late twenties or early thirties will not only stop barely-there lines from worsening, but it can actually reverse those first few lines and wrinkles.
“The preventive and conservative use of in-office treatments is truly believed to slow the aging process. While we can never stop aging completely, we can make it a far more gradual process,” explains board-certified facial plastic surgeon in Walnut Creek, CA, Dr. Haena Kim.
“With repetition, frown lines, marionette lines, forehead furrows and crow’s feet all worsen. Attempting to improve these areas after they’ve developed obviously makes them more difficult to smooth out, but by using injectables early, as a quarterly boost to your treatment plan, you can help prevent them from ever forming,” she adds.
4. Good Botox Goes Unnoticed
A Botox hater’s best line is that you can always tell when someone has had Botox. Untrue. Yes, you can often tell when someone has had too much Botox, but everyone else just looks good – you just can’t figure out why.
So, what’s the secret? Simple. 1. Never overinject. A good injector will use the least amount possible for you to get awesome results. 2. Be consistent. Get on a personalized treatment plan with your doctor, agree on how often you should (and are able to) return – usually every three to four months – and stick with your plan. And 3. Go to a top pro. Only the very best, highly-qualified aesthetic physicians will do. End of.
5. Botox Is NOT Forever
Unlike a full-on facelift, Botox injections are temporary so if you don’t like the results, it’s no biggie. The effects from a procedure last anywhere from three to six months which is when muscle action gradually returns and those lines and creases start to reappear. Specific longevity will all depend on your age, skin type, wrinkle depth and even how expressive your face is when you speak, but your injector will be able to advise you on the best schedule for you.
6. Neither Is It A One-Trick Pony
These days, botulinum toxin injections are being administered for around a hundred different uses nationwide, although word of warning: many of these have not been approved by the FDA.
“We see Botox as a molecule that keeps on giving,” explains Dr. Mitchell F. Brin, neurologist and chief scientific officer at pharmaceutical company Allergan.
Chronic migraine, excessive underarm sweating (hyperhidrosis) and an overactive bladder are just a few complaints Botox has been approved for so ask your doctor if you have questions surrounding these concerns.
7. Finally, Botox Does Not ‘Fill’
Unlike, dermal fillers that temporarily ‘fill’ or bulk up the tissues underneath the skin, Botox offers no filling effects. Instead, it is injected into facial muscles where, within seconds, it blocks the nerve impulses that control movement, therefore relaxing them and preventing repetitive motions that cause fine lines.
While injectable toxins are great for dealing with expression lines such as those around your eyes and forehead, they will not work on deep wrinkles that have been etched into your skin over a long period of time. This is where fillers come into their own.