Botox: Just A Little Can Do A Lot

When it comes to the use of Botox for cosmetic purposes, injecting the drug into the facial muscles temporarily erases fine lines and wrinkles on the forehead and around the outer corners of the eyes. If you are thinking about getting Botox treatment, generically known as onabotulinumtoxin, for your skin, it's important to ask questions before getting the injections to make sure it's the right treatment option for you that will get the best results.

What exactly is Botox?

Botulinum toxin products are derived from Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that causes food poisoning. The bacteria produce a toxin that paralyzes muscles. Injections of small doses of this same nerve toxin weakens facial muscles by blocking nerve signals from the brain that cause the muscles to contract.

What are the drug's cosmetic uses?

Highly diluted amounts of botulinum toxin for use as a cosmetic procedure were first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve the appearance of vertical wrinkles, or furrow lines, that develop on the forehead above the bridge of the nose and between the eye brows. Botox was later approved to improve the appearance of crow's feet.

How does Botox treatment work?

Botox injected into facial muscles paralyzes the targeted muscles which prevents them from contracting. Relaxed facial muscles soften the appearance of wrinkles and reduce frown lines caused by repeated frowning and squinting. The result leaves you with a more youthful appearance that lasts for several months before the effects of the treatment wear off and the wrinkles reappear.

Are Botox injections safe?

Botox injections for cosmetic purposes generally are safe, carrying a low risk of side effects. Dermatologists inject only trace amounts of Botox into certain muscles of the face and neck to smooth wrinkles. The lower the dose, the safer the drug. However, it's important that a medical professional trained and experienced in its use administer the injections.

What information should you give your dermatologist prior to Botox treatment?

Although rare, like any medical procedure, Botox treatment comes with the risk of side effects that are usually minor. In fact, the findings of a study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology reported patients experiencing minor side effects in less than 1 percent of cases when the injections were administered by dermatologists who routinely perform Botox cosmetic procedures.

While the risk of side effects is low, be sure to inform your dermatologist about any allergies or medical conditions you have. Give your doctor a list of medications, especially blood-thinning medications that may cause the side effect of bruising, that you are currently taking. Some dietary supplements are also associated with bleeding and can increase the risk of bruising following treatment. Click here to learn more about Botox treatments.