Botulinum toxin is a naturally occurring protein produced by a bacterium called Clostridium Botulinum, and has a wide range of therapeutic applications and uses. In aesthetics, it is used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
When injected in safe, measured doses, botulinum works by temporarily causing the small delicate muscles of the forehead (horizontal lines), in the middle of the eyebrows (glabellar lines) and around the eyes (crow’s feet) to relax.
Botulinum Toxin Information
Botulinum Toxin A (Botox®) is nowadays the mainstay of wrinkle treatment. It is currently the most popular cosmetic treatment in the world. Wrinkles and skin folds are caused by the repeated use of the facial muscles. Just as a freshly ironed shirt will become creased at the elbow as a result of bending the arm, facial lines can form whenever you frown, squint or smile.
Lines can be softened or even eradicated by means of dermal filler injections or medical skin peel treatments. However, these treatments are aimed at the effects rather than the cause. Botox treatment is different in that it offers a preventative approach. Botox injection relaxes the frown muscles for a period of 3 to 6 months, so breaking the cycle. Typically clients will have regular Botox injections over a number of years until the frowning habit is broken. Sometimes we use Botox in conjunction with other treatments such as dermal fillers – their effects are complementary.
Botox injections take around 10 minutes. You will be asked to frown, smile, scrunch your nose and raise your eyebrows. The exact pattern of forehead and frown movement can then be clearly seen.
Botox has been in use for over 30 years as an accepted form of treatment for squints and nervous tics. The substance cannot cause any permanent damage by unwanted travel within the body because it becomes attached to the muscle itself and thus cannot spread from the site of injection. The action on the muscle is not permanent thus the patient’s frown is relaxed into ‘hibernation’ only for a few months.
Other Factual Information
Afterwards, there will be some tiny red marks for approximately one hour. The injections starts to take effect after about 4 to 10 days and you will feel that it is becoming more difficult to frown. After about two weeks the maximum effect will be apparent. Very occasionally an individual patient may require more than the usual injection amount and a ‘ top-up’ injection may be required. Some patients who have strong frown muscles (especially men) may need further injections. It is good clinical practice to inject a conservative amount of Botox and to add more at a later date if required. There is a very low risk of brow ptosis (droop of the eyebrow) or eyelid ptosis (droop of the eyelid) , which completely reverses with a few weeks. Allergy to Botulinum Toxin Type-A is extremely rare. The results of treatment cannot be guaranteed, although the vast majority of people respond very satisfactorily.
The Client-Friendly Explanation
Botulinum blocks the transmission of the chemical acetylcholine from the nerves to the muscle.
- Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter (nerve endings communication) that sends the message to the muscle telling it to contract or relax.
- With the flow of acetylcholine blocked or significantly reduced, the muscle can no longer retract and it relaxes.
- As a result, the wrinkled areas smooth out and soften.
Possible side effects include: Minor ‘stinging’ sensation, rather than discomfort or pain Slight swelling or redness at the injection site Rarely, temporary weakening of adjacent muscle or temporary drooping of the eyelid or eyebrow. Contra-indications include: Pregnancy or breast feeding Myasthenia Gravis – This is an autoimmune condition, meaning that the body’s immune system attacks itself. In myasthenia gravis, this affects the junctions that transfer messages from the nerve cells to the muscles. Blood coagulation disorders – including those taking warfarin Lambert-Eaton Syndrome – also known as Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome, occurs when your immune system attacks the neuromuscular junction—the area where your nerves and muscles connect.
Anti-Wrinkle Treatments and Fillers - Frequently asked questions
How long do the effects last?
Anti wrinkle treatments can be expected to last up to 12 weeks on average, although this can be longer after repeated treatments. Fillers can be expected to last 9 – 12 months depending on the product used.
How long does it take to do?
The process, including initial consultation and treatment, would typically take no more than an hour.
Does it hurt?
Most people say not! Anti wrinkle injections are very quick and the odd one may feel like a sting, but there’s no lingering discomfort. I use numbing creams for filler treatments as these can be a little uncomfortable for some clients.
Will I see the effects immediately?
Effects of anti wrinkle treatments are seen after a few days for some clients, but most will see the full effect by 14 days following treatment. I always offer a follow up appointment after the 14 days and top up any treated area if required. Effects are immediate when treated with fillers, although a little swelling, and occasional slight bruising, may be seen for a couple of days. Clients often see continuing improvements over the following weeks.
What aftercare do I need to do?
This varies depending on the treatment received, but you’ll be given an aftercare sheet to guide you. Aftercare is however, very minimal.