It's been touted as a miracle skin care procedure in recent years, but Botox side effects might put a damper on the enthusiasm. Is the treatment worth it? Let's find out.
All about Botox
By now, you've probably seen the word Botox in magazine advertisements and articles, on television news reports and on the faces of the rich and famous. What exactly is Botox? Essentially, it's considered a godsend in the ever-continuous battle against the aging process. Botox is a compound drug formulated to paralyze overactive muscles. In the skincare world, Botox is injected into wrinkles. It is renowned far and wide for its ability to relax frown lines, crow's feet and eyebrow wrinkles, as well as lines on the forehead, around the mouth and on other areas of the face. A treatment session is usually quick and relatively painless, and consists of several short injections in the specified area.
The results of Botox are staggeringly dramatic. Many users report a visible difference within just a few days of the treatment, and usually survey the results as moderate to better.
What to Expect During the Procedure
While it's true that a visit to the doctor's office is never a walk in the park, it should also be noted that Botox is generally considered one of the easier procedures to undergo. Anesthesia is not required prior to the treatment, although your doctor might numb the area with an ice pack or anesthetic cream. Typically, Botox treatments are extremely quick and may take as little as five minutes to complete. This is because they consist solely of a few tiny injections, inserted directly into the muscle tissue associated with the wrinkle. The pain is minimal - it is often likened to a bug bite or the sensation of plucking eyebrows.
There is no recovery period required following a Botox treatment. In fact, the majority of patients are able to continue about their normal daily activities immediately, and there is generally no cause for downtime or worry.
While the results might seem miraculous, they are not permanent. Botox patients can expect a gradual return to the skin's previous state within four months. Discontinued treatment will eventually result in skin that looks just as it did prior to the procedure. Continuing the treatments, however, will ensure line-free skin for the duration of the cycle.
Who to Trust
It's important to do some research prior to undergoing a Botox treatment. While any licensed healthcare professional may administer Botox injections, the following types of physicians may have greater experience in the field and knowledge of the subject:
- Cosmetic Surgeons
- Otolaryngologists (Ear, nose and throat doctors, or ENTs)
The Downside of Botox: Side Effects
Just like any other medical procedure, Botox is not without its share of side effects. Not everyone will experience side effects; the vast majority of patients feel comfortable enough to return to work, for example, immediately following the procedure. However, some side effects may develop over time and manifest themselves several days later, while others may have a more immediate impact. The most common side effects of Botox in patients with frown lines include:
- Bruising at treatment site
- Flu-like symptoms
- Respiratory infection
- Droopy eyelids
Less common reactions, occurring in fewer than 3% of patients, include:
- Facial pain
- Muscle weakness
- Erythema (redness at treatment site)
In extremely rare instances, the paralyzing effect may spread to other muscles in the area of the treatment site. When this occurs, these neighboring muscles may become temporarily paralyzed, which in turn may lead to a form of facial paralysis (such as drooping eyelids).
Medications and Botox
It is important to inform your doctor of any medications you are taking at the time of your treatment. Many Botox side effects occur as a result of drug interactions. The following medications are considered dangerous to mix with Botox:
- Antibiotics, such as tobramycin, clindamycin, lincomycin and gentamicin
- Heart medications for arrhythmia, such as quinidine
- Other drugs, such as those used to treat Alzheimer's, ALS and myasthenia gravis
- Herbal remedies
Certain over-the-counter medications may also interfere with Botox. Your usage of any OTC products should be discussed prior to your Botox treatment.
Avoiding Side Effects
Avoiding these side effects is possible! Be sure to choose a qualified cosmetic surgeon with extensive experience in administering Botox. Also, avoid rubbing the treated area for at least 12 hours following the procedure. This will usually help prevent Botox from spreading to nearby muscles.
Avoid Botox treatments altogether if:
- You are pregnant or nursing, as the risks to the fetus and to nursing babies has not been determined
- You suffer from a neuromuscular disease
The Bottom Line
Botox is generally considered a safe, effective procedure with little risk of serious side effects. Minor side effects that may occur will usually subside within just a few days. As with any medical procedure, discuss your concerns with an experienced professional.