Denervating Agent: BOTOX

It's important to know the difference between Botox and fillers (Botox stops the muscle contractions; fillers plump up the furrows), but it's even more important to emphasize that in trained hands, Botox does not paralyze muscles. Rather, it is used in an artistic fashion to restore a more youthful appearance to the face.

A relatively painless procedure, Botox injections are virtually downtime free. Muscle actions play a big role in aging around the eyes, as contractions lead to initial dynamic wrinkles followed by more permanent lines; Botox is great for stopping crow's-feet and the vertical frown lines between the brows, and it prevents the muscle movement that leads to fine lines and furrows. The treatment can also be used as an "injectable browlift," to slightly elevate the brow and eliminate horizontal lines across the forehead to help the upper face look younger and more relaxed. Many plastic surgeons consider Botox to be an integral part of a surgical browlift, since its use before surgery can help relax the muscles and facilitate healing.

Just like injectable fillers, a topical anesthetic may be applied to make treatment more comfortable. Then, over a short period of time (roughly 10 minutes, depending on how many areas are being treated), your doctor will strategically place several injections. You may be red or bruised at the injection sites for up to a few days, and in rare instances, patients will report mild flu-like symptoms after treatment. Results become visible in three to seven days, and last for three to four months. Botox is not a permanent solution—you'll need repeat treatments every three to four months. Your doctor may choose to use the treatment in conjunction with a filler to provide the best results.

Average Cost: $400-$1,000 per treatment region

Length of Procedure: Minutes

Recovery Time: Immediate

Treatment Frequency: Every four to six months

Risks: Bruising; numbness and burning during injections. Eyelid droop is possible, but rare.

Duration of Results: Temporary


PurTox, Reloxin and Xeomen are three other versions of botulinum toxin type A that are currently in FDA trials.

Other Uses for Botox:

Botox is approved by the FDA to treat severe underarm sweating that cannot be managed by topical agents such as prescription antiperspirants.

It can also be used as part of a "nonsurgical nosejob" to relax the muscle that pulls the tip downward, creating a more upturned appearance, or to soften the "bunny lines" on the sides near the top of the nose.

Botox can play a part in neck rejuvenation as well. Strategic injections into the muscles that cause the appearance of the tight cord-like bands in the neck can be relaxed and rendered invisible for up to six months. Your doctor will likely ask you to grimace to make the bands visible before administering roughly three injections.

There is also clinical evidence that shows Botox is an effective treatment for migraines, and yet another recent study shows the benefits of it for incontinence. One small-scale study has also demonstrated that it can help alleviate depression, so psychiatry is another area of medicine that may benefit.

Did You Know?

Doctors have observed that repeated Botox treatments may last progressively longer as the facial muscles atrophy from non-use.

Can Botox Prevent Wrinkles From Forming?

In a word, yes. Small amounts of Botox can be used to help break unconscious wrinkle-forming habits, such as frowning and squinting, that lead to crow's-feet. When you look at the costs associated with multiple Botox injections now, compared to the cost of surgery down the line, it may prove to be more cost effective.

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