Botulinum toxin (commercially available as Botox or Dysport) is a simple, nonsurgical treatment, administered by injection to temporarily reduces or eliminates frown lines, forehead creases, crows feet near the eyes and thick bands in the neck.

What is botulinum toxin?

Botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin derived from the bacterium (Clostridium botulinum). It can be used as an effective and potent medication for various medical conditions, including cosmetic applications. In the 1950s, researchers have discovered that by injecting overactive muscles with minute quantities of botulinum toxin type-A would result in decreased muscle activity. This is due to the blockage of acetylcholine release from the neuron by preventing the vesicle where the acetylcholine is stored from binding to the membrane where the neurotransmitter can be released. This will effectively weaken the muscle for a period of three to four months.

In cosmetic applications, a Botox or Dysport injection, consisting of a small diluted dose of botulinum toxin, can be used to prevent the development of wrinkles by paralysing facial muscles. The wrinkle reducing effect of Botox lasts for approximately three to four months up to six months.

Other uses of botulinum toxin:

  • Facial slimming for masseter hypertrophy
  • Calf contouring
  • Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
  • Blepharospasm
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder/bruxism

Cosmetic applications of botulinum toxin:

Botulinum toxin is one of the essential substances used for facial rejuvenation. This substance is regarded as the most popular way to reduce facial wrinkles with minimal pain and downtime. Botulinum toxin can be used as a wrinkle treatment to smooth:

  • Frown lines
  • Crows feet
  • Forehead furrows
  • Skin bands on the neck

Botulinum toxin can be combined with other cosmetic skin procedures such as chemical peels, dermal fillers or microdermabrasion to further improve your results. This combination of therapies can even help to prevent the formation of new lines and wrinkles.

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Special considerations, risks and recovery time

The patient may resume normal activities immediately.

One note of caution: Don’t rub or massage the treated areas after the wrinkle treatment because it can cause the botulinum toxin to migrate to another area of your face. If this happens, you could have temporary facial weakness or drooping.

Although Botox or Dysport injection is generally safe, side effects and complications can include:

  • Bruising and pain at the injection site
  • Redness
  • Headache
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Temporary facial weakness or drooping
  • Very rarely, the toxin can spread beyond the treatment area, which can cause botulism-like signs and symptoms such as breathing problems, trouble swallowing, muscle weakness and slurred speech.

Ideal candidates for botulinum toxin

Botulinum toxins will not fix all types of skin problems. For example, while it can reduce wrinkles around the eye, it cannot repair the pigmentation caused by skin damage due to chronic sun exposure. The skin thickness, type, and the degree of wrinkling play a role in determining the effectiveness of botulinum toxin. Hence, it is always advisable to complement botulinum injection with other cosmetic procedures to achieve desirable results.

A qualified plastic surgeon is the best person to evaluate the appropriateness of this treatment for you personally.

How much will a botulinum toxin procedure cost?

Cost is always a consideration in elective procedure or treatment. The cost for botulinum toxin treatments may vary based on the expertise and qualifications of the person performing the treatment, time and effort the procedure or treatment requires as well as a geographic office location.

Additional fees may include:

  • Surgical facility costs
  • Prescriptions for medication

Be sure to ask your surgeon about all the costs involved in your procedure.