Updated Dec 2020
Botox is all the rage and for good reason. Women and men are both flocking to cosmetic clinics for injectables that offer a way to slow down the ageing process. Today we talk about the facts and some of the myths associated with Botox so you feel safe to come to our clinic in London for your anti-ageing treatment.
Botulinum toxin (BTX) is a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium clostridium botulinum that is manufactured for medical use. Due to its excellent track record of effectiveness and safety, both the FDA and EU have approved Botulinum toxin A (BoNT-A) for use in many applications, including muscle spasms, excessive sweating, pain management, migraines and in the cosmetic industry.
The Botulinum toxin has several strains but it’s A and B that are widely used medically and commercially. The first commercial form is marketed under the brand name Botox and is produced by a company called Allergan. Even though BTX is a poisonous substance, when used in small amounts it causes no harm. The concentration of Botox injected in patients is around 0.75 ng per 100 units or roughly one-fifth of the estimated lethal dose in humans. It is well tolerated in a cosmetic setting and is used by millions of people each year.
In simple terms, Botox works by interfering with communication between the cell endings in the nervous system to cause paralysis. When injected into the face, Botox helps to prevent muscle contraction and therefore reduces wrinkle formation. It also disrupts the neurotransmission for the skin to sweat, hence its popular use in treating excessive sweating.
Recently, a new method of administering Botox — named “Babytox” or “Boytox” — to subtly enhance the face while maintaining facial expressions has emerged. It’s a quick procedure involving very small amounts of Botox injected over a larger area, mostly superficially. Babytox is a very popular procedure embraced by people in their 20s as a preventative measure to combat the formation of wrinkles since it refreshes the appearance without limiting any facial expression. It is also popular for actors and actresses who need to be able to emote and maintain their facial expressions.
If you have deeper wrinkles you will need more units of Botox to get the desired effect. Your injector will discuss your desires and determine the right amount of units for each part of the face. The goal is not to be frozen but to achieve a more natural look where your friends will say how refreshed you look. If you go to someone with less experience and who isn’t skilled, you may get too much Botox — which could have adverse effects on your appearance.
A myth surrounding the use of Botox is that it cannot be used in the lower two-thirds of the face. On the contrary, the depressor muscles in the neck, chin and corners of the mouth can be targeted to lift up the face in unison. Botox can also be used to soften crows feet around the eyes as well as on the chewing muscles (i.e. masseters) to achieve facial slimming. In the hands of an advanced injector, Botox can be used in many areas to rejuvenate one’s appearance without compromising any facial expressions.
Botox injections in the midface should only be attempted by an experienced clinician. This is to avoid limiting facial expression, in particular when smiling. With the discovery of hyaluronic acid-based dermal filler, restoration of volume and wrinkle softening can easily be achieved in the midface with good results. Combination therapy is the new way of rejuvenation.
Both women and men are using Botox in their 20s and 30s as a preventative measure to stop lines and wrinkles from ever forming. We get wrinkles on the forehead, between and around the eyes and around the mouth due to repetitive expressions like smiling, frowning or scowling. Using Botox in your younger years may slow down your normal ageing process. See the twin study, for example. One used Botox regularly over 13 years while the other didn’t. There’s a huge difference in the lines present, both at rest and while smiling between the two twins.
Unfortunately, Botox does not work immediately. The process takes time — normally three to five days to see some changes. The full results can be seen up to a few weeks after the treatment depending on many factors like age, genetics and skin type. So don’t expect immediate results. Since Botox isn’t a permanent solution, it will wear off anywhere from three to six months and you’ll need to go in for a top-up.
It is true that both dermal fillers and Botox are injectables and are used for a number of applications on the face, but they are completely different substances that serve different purposes in your anti-ageing treatment plan. We talk extensively about dermal fillers on our blog if you want to learn more about them. Dermal fillers are made of hyaluronic acid and are used for various applications to improve facial irregularities and skin elasticity. Botox is Botulinum toxin A, which inhibits so much movement of the muscles in the face. This helps prevent new lines from forming since you can’t make the same exaggerated facial expressions that cause wrinkles to form. Always go with the “less is more” theory when it comes to facial fillers.
Botox has been used in a medical setting for over 30 years so it is well studied and approved for safety. There are very few side effects associated with Botox injections. You may experience some pain or bruising at the injection site but usually, a small cannula is used to prevent this. Some people worry about the possibility of muscle weakness or paralysis in unwanted areas, but this doesn’t happen with a skilled doctor who won’t overfill the face.