Throughout the past decade injectable cosmetics such as Botox® (botulinum toxin) have become renowned and effective solutions aimed at slowing down the signs of aging. They are simple, relatively painless and quick procedures that relax different muscles to smooth and delay the creation of wrinkles, for example on the forehead and around the eyes. The benefits can be evident for 3-6 months.
Botulinum toxin blocks impulses from the nerve to the facial muscles that are injected. Botulinum toxin relaxes the muscles so that they do not contract. After treatment, the overlying skin remains smooth and unwrinkled while the untreated facial muscles contract in a normal fashion, allowing normal facial expression.
Botulinum toxin injections have been used safely for over twenty years to treat many neurological and ophthalmological disorders. Each year tens of thousands of patients receive Botulinum toxin for relief from a variety of conditions and it is quickly becoming a popular treatment for reversing the visible signs of aging.
Injection with Botulinum toxin is a simple and safe procedure. Using a tiny needle, a very small amount of Botulinum toxin is injected very precisely into several locations on the face. The needle is extremely fine and only small volumes are used, therefore the pain associated with the injection is minimal. No sedation or local anaesthetic is required. You can resume normal activities immediately afterwards.
Some patients experience a slight bruising at the injection site. In rare cases, the toxin can migrate and cause temporary weakness to nearby small muscles. In very rare cases there can be drooping of an eyelid or asymmetry of facial expression. The risk of any side effect depends upon the muscles injected. Your practitioner will discuss this with you in detail before the treatment. Because the effects of Botulinum toxin are completely reversible, any side effects are temporary, lasting only a few weeks.
If dynamic wrinkles (these are the lines that appear when you form a facial expression, for example the lines around the outer edge of the eyes when you smile, or crow’s feet as some people call them) make you look older than you are, cosmetic “regeneration” can smooth these out and give you a more youthful and pleasing appearance. However, this treatment cannot improve wrinkles due to aging and sun-damaged skin since they are unrelated to facial muscle contractions. Muscle relaxing injections will not improve sagging skin or replace the need for a facelift or brow lift.
Unfortunately, Botulinum toxin injections are a temporary solution for the treatment of dynamic wrinkles. The effects of the injections last from three to six months. You will need to have injections about two to three times a year. The early clinical studies indicate that the duration of the treatment benefits is increased over time so that you should require fewer injections in the future. The duration of the effect varies from patient to patient and may be less effective for those over 65 years of age.