Some people get confused over the terminology used to describe BOTOX injections. I use BOTOX® Cosmetic, which is produced by Allegan and is available only on prescription. Public advertising of prescribed medication is not permitted, which is why you’ll see me and other responsible practitioners refer to the product as a wrinkle or muscle relaxing injection. This drug has been used successfully for more than twenty years to treat eye muscle spasms and conditions such as cerebral palsy in which muscular hyperactivity features.
When applied as a cosmetic technique, small quantities of Clostridium Botulinum are injected into specific facial muscles causing them to relax. The muscles are no longer able to flex – stopping the formation of frown lines, forehead lines and crow’s feet. Existing lines are much less pronounced too because the underlying muscles are totally relaxed. Wrinkle relaxing injections are administered using very fine sterile disposable syringes.
The patient will experience very mild discomfort lasting for only a few seconds as each area is treated. Although this treatment is not generally considered to merit the use of a topical local anaesthetic, patients may opt for this if they wish.
How long does a treatment take?
A typical treatment of the whole forehead and crow’s feet area takes less than ten minutes.
Are there any side effects?
The vast majority of patients experience no side-effects whatsoever. Occasionally, a small bruise at the injection site may occur which will disappear after a few days and mild headaches lasting a few hours have been reported in a very few instances. In extremely rare cases an easily reversible condition known as ptosis, heaviness of the eyelids, may occur due to the technique being inexpertly administered by someone without proper training.
Are wrinkle relaxing injections safe?
Provided that wrinkle relaxing injections are administered by a practitioner with medical training, there are no serious risks. Any side-effects are minor and temporary, as discussed above. Although research to date has not shown any risk to the developing foetus caused by exposure to muscle relaxing injections, in the interests of best practice I advise that injections are best avoided in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Dermatologists and ophthalmologists have been using BOTOX® since 1980. It has an excellent record of efficacy and safety and was first used in infants to correct overactive eye muscles. Although there have been recent news articles about the safety of BOTOX®, problems have occurred only in children with cerebral palsy who were receiving large doses BOTOX® into their neck muscles to treat spasticity (hyperactivity of the muscles). This is a stronger form of BOTOX® than is used in Aesthetic Medicine.
BOTOX® Cosmetic does not affect the nerves transmitting sensation, so there is no numbness associated with BOTOX® administration. There have been no long-term side effects, allergic reactions or health hazards related to BOTOX® Cosmetic use thus far. I have personally used the product for over five years, with no problems.
How long does it last?
You will begin to see noticeable effects within two or three days. Two weeks after the initial injection the beneficial effects become really clear. I like to see all my patients two weeks after injections to ensure that the desired effect has been achieved. The effect lasts for 3-6 months in the first instance when the procedure will need to be repeated.
If muscle relaxing injections are given regularly, subsequent injection intervals are increased. It is not uncommon to find that after the first year, patients may need muscle relaxing injections for maintenance only once every six months. If you should stop If you should stop BOTOX® Cosmetic, your appearance will gradually revert to the appearance you would have had if you had never been treated with BOTOX.
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