Let’s start with what Botox is. Botox is the brand name for Onobotulinumtoxin A, a neurotoxin derived from Clostridium botulinum. There are currently four different types that are FDA-approved for cosmetic facial wrinkles. These include Botox, Xeomin, Dysport and now Jeuveau.
They all work by blocking a signal from the nerve to the targeted muscle that prevents it from contracting. By preventing the contraction of these specific muscles, there is less action or pull on the skin and a decrease in the formation of wrinkles. While all of these products have the same end result, they differ slightly in their onset, duration of action and discomfort.
When to use each product is dependent on several things. Sometimes, it is the surgeon’s or injector’s preference. In other instances, a patient may have had experience with different products and have found that one works better than the other in them personally. In either case, all of these products are safe and effective in the right hands.
What to expect during your procedure
Finally, the real question. Oftentimes, at the time of your injection, your injector will discuss with you your goals and, after an examination, will be able to assess if those goals can be achieved with the use of neurotoxin. If it can, it’s your lucky day!
Your face will be cleansed and the areas that are to be injected, possibly marked with a removable eyeliner/marker. You might have a numbing cream applied or be given ice packs to help with any discomfort. Once you are ready, the injections will be performed in various areas to target the desired muscles.
You might have a few small bumps in the skin at the actual injection site but these will be gone by the time you leave the office. You might also have some mild bruising which will resolve in 24-48 hours. Finally, you will be given instructions on what to do and what not to do in the next 24 hours. This is can vary from injector to injector.
Neurotoxins generally take effect in 3-5 days but it is common to not see your full and final results for 7-10 days. I, personally, always tell my patients to wait a full 2 weeks after their Botox injection and, at that point if they need a touch-up, we will take care of it. It takes this long because it takes time for the toxin to block off those nerve impulses to the muscles. It is not immediate.
Well, don’t we wish Botox lasted forever? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Eventually, the action of the neurotoxin will wear off and the nerves will again be able to send those signals to the muscles to start working or contracting. In general, Botox lasts 3-4 months.
There will certainly be patients in which in lasts longer, in that 4-6 month range, or shorter, in that 2-month range. It is also common for first-timers to notice that it may not last as long initially but may last longer after the second treatment. Everyone has a unique experience and results may vary.
Hopefully, this helps answer any questions you have about Botox or other neurotoxins. For any further questions, consult with your local board-certified plastic surgeon or use the ASPS Ask A Surgeon tool.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.