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The Basics of Botox

The Basics of Botox

As far as beauty trends go, few have become popular as quickly as Botox, a technique that involves a doctor injecting botulism toxins into the skin to temporarily reduce wrinkles. What fans of the practice may not know is that "Botox" is not the official name for the process. Rather, it is a brand name that has come to be representative of the product, much like Kleenex and tissues. Doctors more typically refer to it generically as "neurotoxin" or "neuromodulator."

Along with the name, there are a few other interesting facts about Botox.

Who Uses Botox?

The short answer is that anyone can use Botox. However, it is most commonly used by people in their thirties, forties, and fifties, with the occasional person in their twenties using it. Age isn't as much of a factor as is whether or not the patient has what is known as a dynamic line—or wrinkle. In other words, anyone who has a wrinkle and wants to smooth it out is a Botox candidate.

There are some people in their early to mid-twenties who use Botox with the idea that using it in low doses at a young age will prevent deeper wrinkles from forming. This type of treatment is known as "baby Botox" and is controversial since no one knows how effective Botox is as a preventative measure.

How Does It Work?

The process is best described by Eric Cerrati, MD: "Botox works by its effect on the muscle. It prevents muscle contractions. So lines that are created through muscle contraction are the ones that are going to be improved with Botox." The areas that are most impacted by muscle contractions are the vertical lines between the eyebrows, the horizontal lines across the forehead, and the smile lines just outside of each eye.

How Long Does Botox Last?

As Cerrati puts it, "It usually lasts about three to four months. So if you love it, you'd have to redo it. If you hate it, there's no way to reverse it, it just wears off and that's it. But once the Botox wears off, you're no better or no worse than where you started. It kind of just wears off and you're right back where you were before the injection."

Potential Risks

Botox has very few risks, as nobody has an allergy to the treatment and there are no documented side effects. There are some potential risks to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, but these risks have not been studied in depth. The only real risk when it comes to Botox is if the neurotoxin is injected in the wrong place, which can cause temporary facial asymmetry. This outcome is extremely unlikely with an experienced doctor.

Getting Started

Those who are interested in Botox should speak to a doctor, who will give them a general overview of the process. As patients move forward, they typically start with lower doses to see if they like how it feels before getting the full treatment.