Botox is a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It has been used cosmetically for many years to temporarily reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles and creases. The Botox cosmetic procedure works by blocking the signals from the nerves to the muscles, thus relaxing the muscles and the wrinkles they create. Botox is effective in treating dynamic wrinkles, or those associated with facial movement and expression. It is often used to treat forehead lines, crow’s feet, frown lines, and neck bands. Botox has other uses as well. It is commonly used to treat excessive underarm sweating, as well as cervical dystonia, blepharospasm, and strabismus.
Candidates for Botox cosmetic injections are in good physical health and have realistic expectations for improvement. Patients should understand that the results of Botox are temporary and that repeated treatment will be needed in order to maintain the results. Botox should not be used in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Treatment with Botox takes just a few minutes and is performed in the office setting. Anesthesia is not needed, though patients may receive a topical anesthetic or numbing cream if desired; however, discomfort is usually very minor. A very fine needle is used to inject the Botox into the specific muscles. Several tiny injections are administered.
The full effect of Botox is seen within three to seven days and results last anywhere from three to six months. Side effects are generally rare, though some patients experience temporary bruising or redness at the injection site. Nevertheless, there is no downtime and patients are able to immediately return to their normal routine.