Why get Botox injections?
Botox is a drug that's widely known for its cosmetic benefits, but it also has several medical uses. Botox is the name of the drug used for medical conditions while Botox Cosmetic is used when treating wrinkles.
The drug is made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, the same toxin that causes botulism.
People might get Botox injections to temporarily remove facial wrinkles, such as crow's feet, forehead lines, frown lines between eyebrows or neck lines. Botox also can relieve hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, in their underarms. People who have cervical dystonia might seek out Botox to treat severe neck and shoulder muscle contractions. Uncontrollable blinking and misaligned eyes, or crossed eyes, can sometimes be treated using Botox. Botox also can help relieve certain types of headaches. Botox generally doesn't help relieve wrinkles caused by sun damage.
Botox works by blocking nerve signals to the muscles where it's injected, keeping the muscles from contracting. This causes targeted paralysis of the muscles that are injected. This means that muscles causing wrinkles will relax, and the wrinkles will smooth out. This also means that muscles pulling one eye too far in one direction relax, relieving symptoms of a lazy eye.
One of the things to keep in mind when considering Botox injections is cost. You should check with your insurance provider about whether Botox is covered.
When choosing a doctor to perform your injections, you should check the physician's credentials. You could check to see whether a doctor is a member of any professional organizations. You can also check to see if the doctor has been disciplined in Oklahoma by checking on the Oklahoma Medical Board's website. You can also ask your doctor if he or she is board-certified.
What happens when you get Botox injections?
Before getting Botox injections, you likely will go through a medical evaluation at your doctor's office. This likely will take longer than getting the injections. You should make sure to choose a doctor who will be thorough in finding out your medical history and listening to your concerns.
Your doctor might discuss how many units he or she will use. Your doctor also might discuss your expectations and what Botox can and can't do.
Once your evaluation is complete, the doctor will prepare the Botox. The needles used to insert the Botox are generally small. The injections are usually quick.
The areas where you need to be injected will vary from person to person. It could be as few as five or as many as 15. The area where you're injected and the number of injections you get will also depend on your doctor's experience and preference.
If you receive 15 injections, that doesn't mean you received 15 units. A unit can be spread out among injection sites.
Once you're ready, the doctor will inject Botox into a relatively low number of muscle fibers. Botox works by temporarily weakening or paralyzing a muscle. When a doctor injects the Botox, the muscle at the injection site will become inactivated and atrophy.
The thickness of your skin, the location where the Botox is being injected and the muscle being targeted are all factors that affect how much Botox will be injected. If you're receiving Botox injections for medical reasons, you might need a higher dose than someone who is using Botox to get rid of wrinkles. For example, someone being treated for cerebral palsy generally will receive a higher dose than a person who wants to temporarily get rid of forehead wrinkles.
To treat excessive sweating, your doctor will inject Botox underneath your arms.
Does it hurt?
Pain varies from patient to patient. If you're unable to relax your muscles, that will increase your level of pain. If you're tense, the injections might hurt more. Your hormone level can also affect how sensitive you are to pain.
If you're receiving Botox in your lips, your doctor might apply a topical numbing cream because of how sensitive the lips are.
What are the risk factors?
Even though Botox comes from a toxin, it has been found to be fairly safe when used in small doses in the proper medical setting.
After receiving Botox, you might experience a temporary headache, which could last up to two days. It should go away, and if it doesn't, you should contact your doctor. Other risk factors include redness, flu-like symptoms, itching and nausea.
People with tall foreheads might have an eyebrow come up higher than another. That's usually correctable. Sometimes an eyebrow will go too low, and that's not as easy to correct. That wears off within a few weeks.
A more serious and rare issue is when the Botox affects the muscles that hold up the eyelid. This means you won't be able to open your eyelid. This will wear off, but it can last three to six months.
It's very rare, but there is a risk that the botulinum toxin could spread to other parts of your body. If this happened, it could cause symptoms similar to botulism. Botulism is a rare but serious illness that can cause paralysis. Most people who contract botulism do not die, but there is a small risk.
There are serious but uncommon side effects related to Botox injections that include allergic reactions, eye pain, blistering and seizures. Their risk factors are rare.
What's the recovery time?
Usually, you will feel fine after the injection, and you could go back to work immediately.
You might have some bruising or minor side effects at your injection sites. For example, you might have marks where you received the injections that resemble small bee stings.
People who fear needles might feel light headed, and they might need to stay in the doctor's office until they're feeling better.
After the injections, you should stay upright for four hours so that the Botox won't migrate. You also want to refrain from rubbing the injection site so the Botox won't migrate. If you receive Botox injections to treat facial wrinkles, it could take a few days before you might start to see the results of the Botox injection.
Are there follow-up procedures?
The benefits of Botox are not permanent. It's up to you to decide how often you want to get more injections.
The length of time that your muscles stay atrophied after Botox will vary from person to person.
If you are using Botox to treat wrinkles and have young skin with few lines, you might go back after six months or a year. If you're older and have more lines, you may prefer more frequent injections. When you start feeling movement in the injection area, that is likely a time to schedule your next injection if you want to continue the treatment. Over time, as you use Botox, you will see fewer lines come back.
When using Botox to treat medical conditions, the length of the effects will vary greatly. It's best to talk with your doctor before making any major medical decisions.
Sources: Dr. Joan Hardt, a cosmetic surgeon and medical director at Rejuvena Cosmetic Medical Center; National Institutes of Health; The Mayo Clinic; The U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; American Academy of Dermatology.