Last updated date: 26-Feb-2022
16 mins read
Botox – overview
Botox is a medical substance that is used to relax muscles, but is also famously known for its cosmetic value in reducing wrinkles. This drug derives from a bacterium and it’s injected into specific muscles in order to relax or paralyze them. Botox can help in a variety of medical or cosmetic challenges, such as muscle spasticity, intense sweating, migraines, alopecia, wrinkles and much more. In this article we will discuss all things Botox, so keep on reading if you want to find out more!
What exactly is Botox?
Botox is a medical substance that consists of Botulinum A toxin which is a bacterium produced by Clostridium botulinum. Since Botox is basically a toxin, it can be quite toxic if not used properly, which is why your doctor should know what dosage to use in order to achieve the best result for your condition.
As a side note, Clostridium botulinum is responsible for botulism, a serious disease that paralyzes your face and then progressively your entire body. While it sounds like a fatal condition (if it’s not treated it actually is lethal because it ultimately reaches the muscles responsible for breathing), nowadays antitoxins are administered as a cure with a high success rate.
Clostridium botulinum is a bacterium that survives in environments where there is no oxygen. It’s also quite common in natural settings, such as lakes, soil and in animals. Its pores are usually harmless, but when cell population starts to grow, the bacterium starts to produce the Botulinum toxin which can be deadly. Because Clostridium botulinum can survive in difficult settings, botulism is considered a type of food poisoning given the fact that this bacterium can be found in vegetables (for example potatoes, beets, mushrooms) or in canned foods produced at home. However, you can contract this bacterium also from having an open wound or by being in contact with soil that is contaminated.
Is Botox toxic?
Since we’ve talked about Clostridium botulinum and how when it produces Botulinum toxin.
it becomes deadly, one can wonder if Botox can also be toxic and lethal. The short answer is that yes, Botox is a toxin after all that can be very dangerous if not used properly. To paint (a rather grim) picture, some scientists have calculated that one gram of Botulinum toxin can kill one million people. However, when Botox is produced for medical reasons, the injections have very small doses of the toxin, which is one of the reasons why Botox injections need to be repeated for a constant desired effect (more on that later).
Are there more types of Botox?
This is a rather tricky question and we’ll explain why. For commercial purposes, Botulinum toxin can be classified in five types, depending on who makes them (the manufacturer):
- Botox – onabotulinumtoxin A;
- Dysport – abobotulinumtoxin A;
- Xeomin – incobotulinumtoxin A;
- Myobloc – rimabotulinumtoxin B;
- Jeuveau – prabotulinumtoxin A.
As you can see, the term “Botox” refers only to one type of Botulinum toxin, which is manufactured by a specific company that has trademarked the term. However, in the popular culture, “Botox” is used to describe all types of this product, even though not everyone who gets these injections actually gets the Botox ones. As we go on, we’ll discuss the differences between some of these injections.
Botox vs Xeomin
These two terms describe two different brands of Botulinum toxin injections. Even though they come from the same class of injections and have the same purpose, which is muscle relaxation, there are some differences between the two. The main difference between Botox and Xeomin is that the latter doesn’t have additives that could incite an immune response from the body by creating antibodies and rejecting the substance. This makes Xeomin an injection that has a greater chance of success. One more difference is that Xeomin, unlike Botox, doesn’t need to be refrigerated which makes it more accessible (the same old discussion that dominated the medical field and mainstream media when talking about COVID-19 vaccines, right?).
Botox and Xeomin are approved and used to treat almost the same conditions, with only a few differences. Mainly, they can both address eyelid twitching (blepharospasm), spasticity of the upper limbs, cervical dystonia and frown lines. However, Botox is used for more than frown lines when it comes to cosmetic procedures, as well as for migraines, strabismus and excessive sweating. One thing to remember is that even though it seems like these two types of injections are similar, you should not use them interchangeably.
Botox vs Dysport
Just as before, Botox and Dysport are two brands of Botulinum toxin injections. Their similarities lie in the fact that both of them are used to treat wrinkles by relaxing the muscles underlying the skin. One main difference between Botox and Dysport is that Botox can be used to treat all facial lines, including forehead, crow’s feet and glabellar lines, while Dysport can only address glabellar lines. Another difference lies in the different proteins these two substances have, which can make one of them more efficient for some people than the other. In terms of how they are administered, there are no differences, with the results starting to show after a couple of days in case of Dysport injections and within a week in case of Botox injections. For either of these two you will most likely need to go back for more injections after some time.
Botox vs Jeuveau
This comparison is extremely similar to that between Botox and Dysport. Both substances, Botox and Jeuveau are derivate of Botulinum toxin that can be injected directly into muscles for relaxation purposes. Both of them have been approved for cosmetic use, with the main difference being that Botox has been approved for medical use as well (meaning it can also help with medical conditions). Just as before, Jeuveau is destined to treat glabellar lines, while Botox can address other facial lines as well.
Where on your body can you get Botox and for what reasons?
Over the years, Botox has become known especially for its cosmetic role in reducing wrinkles and lines. However, this substance can be used to treat other muscular conditions associated with medical conditions. Some of the facial lines Botox can address are crow’s feet, glabellar lines, forehead lines and some of the other muscular conditions are eye twitching, lazy eyes, migraines, cervical dystonia, hyperhidrosis, cerebral palsy. Let’s tackle some of the most common conditions Botox can treat and see how exactly this toxin can achieve wonders for the emotional and physical wellbeing of a person!
Botox on forehead. Botox for the forehead usually implies treatment for horizontal lines on the forehead as well as vertical wrinkles that appear typically as a result of frowning (they are also referred to as vertical frown lines). As you know by now, Botox acts as a temporarily paralyzer of the underlying muscles beneath the skin, resulting in a smoother skin on the surface that reduces the wrinkle. The forehead lines are also known as surprise lines and they become more and more pronounced with age, giving the skin an aged aspect. Some of the most common causes of horizontal lines on the forehead are genetic causes, as well as sun exposure and smoking.
Botox in the forehead can also be used as a preventative option because if injected in the right spots, it can prevent any new wrinkles while in effect. However, the use of Botox on the forehead (Botox forehead) should be managed with caution because even though it has cosmetic value in reducing wrinkles, it can also cause too much relaxation of the muscles which, in turn, can have unpleasant consequences, such as drooping eyelids or an uneven aspect of the eyebrows. What’s more, if you receive too much Botox this might make your face seem expressionless or frozen, at least until the paralyzing effect wears off.
When it comes to how many units of Botox can be used on the forehead (Botox units forehead), it depends very much on the severity of the lines and the body’s response to the toxin. On average, practitioners declare a use of 10 to 30 units. The number is determined, however, over time, between sessions because they need to assess how the Botox works in every case which means that they usually start with a small dosage during the first appointment. Over time, you may need to come back for follow-up sessions that are usually spaced apart at two to four months.
Botox between eyebrows. Frown lines or the lines that appear between your eyebrows are also known as glabella lines. These are vertical lines between the eyebrows that can give the face an angry or tired look. Losing skin elasticity is one of the main cause for these lines, alongside the genetic inheritance, exposure to sunlight, stress, smoking, and yes, frowning too much (but squinting your eyes or furrowing your eyebrows doesn’t help either). The use of Botox for this type of lines between your eyebrows (Botox eyebrows) can give you a more relaxed look but one thing to consider is that these lines tend to be quite deep and so your practitioner can also recommend, alongside Botox injections, the use of dermal fillers (will discuss about these later on).
What is a Botox brow lift (Botox eye lift)? Apart from treating frown lines between the eyebrows, injecting Botox in this area can also help elevate the height of the eyebrows. How? Well, because the muscles in the eyebrow area become relaxed, the forehead muscles can now pull them up, resulting in an elevated brow look. This can also be achieved by injecting Botox at the ends of the eyebrows, the forehead muscles being able to pull that area as well.
Botox on the top of the nose. The lines that form on either side of the nose are called bunny lines. They usually appear as a result of certain facial expressions or just as a natural consequence of ageing. Botox can be helpful in this case as well, with the injections placed at either side of the nose. Caution is advised because if the intervention goes wrong, your smile can be affected.
Botox for crow’s feet. Moving on to the eye area, the most common lines are called crow’s feet because they are facial wrinkles in the form of a crow’s feet, having a fan-like appearance. They develop at the corners of the eyes where the skin is particularly thin and sensitive. Botox injections can help smooth out the area by relaxing the underlying muscles. Some of the side effects for using Botox in this area can be excessive tearing, droopy eyelids or crooked eyebrows. For references of how Botox looks like when injected in the eye area, you can always look for images of Botox eyes before and after; Botox before and after.
Botox under eyes. The creases or lines that form underneath the eyes can be treated with Botox, but caution is advised considering the fragility of the skin in the area. Plus, the muscle targeted by the Botox injections is the one that is responsible for the movement of the lower eyelid which means that if the procedure goes wrong, one of the consequences can be the drop of the lower lid. Some people also try to treat the under-eye bags with Botox, but it’s important to know that in this case, other interventions, such as dermal fillers, have higher rates of success compared to Botox alone.
Botox on lips. Botox injected in the lip area (Botox lips) can produce several cosmetic improvements, such as: minimize lines and creases in the lip area, elevate the corners of the mouth, correct the gummy smile or create an enhancement effect of the upper lip (known as a Botox lip flip).
Botox lip flip. The Botox lip flip is an intervention designed to use Botox injection to make the lips seem larger. This effect is achieved by injecting Botox into the upper middle upper lip (Botox upper lip) which causes the muscles to relax making the lip curl in an upward direction. This way, the upper lip will seem larger, without modifying its volume. For some people, however, this effect is not dramatic enough so they will prefer also getting a lip filler injection, alongside the Botox injections. Search for Botox lip flip before and after to get a picture (pun intended!) of what this procedure’s results can look like.
Botox for gummy smile. Are the gums of your upper teeth showing when you’re smiling? Then you have what it’s referred to as a gummy smile. While some people find it charming, others think it’s unaesthetic and search for ways to correct it. Don’t worry though! Botox injections might be just the solution you’re looking for. To help correct this aesthetic problem, your practitioner will inject Botox into the Cupid’s bow, the area in the middle of the upper lip. This procedure targets the orbicularis oris muscle, the same one you use to pucker the lips. Relaxing this muscle, the lips will start to curl and when you smile, the relaxed muscles will cover the gums, while your lips gain momentum.
Botox for lipstick lines. Botox around mouth is used to treat the lines that form in the mouth area, known also as lipstick lines. However, practitioners usually prefer to treat these lines with dermal fillers instead of Botox.
Botox for smile lines. Botox on face is also used for smile lines (Botox smile lines). Just as the other types of lines, these can be caused by ageing or repeated movements over the time. Botox is injected to relax the muscles in the area and to smooth out the skin.
Botox on neck. With age, the skin on the neck can also develop wrinkles and lines which Botox injections can treat. This procedure is also known as the Nefertiti lift. There are two types of lines that can appear on the neck: horizontal and vertical. Both of them can be treated with Botox, but dermal fillers can also be helpful.
Botox jawline. In the jawline area, Botox injections can achieve two things: treat bruxism and create a slim face effect. Bruxism is the term used to describe the condition that causes teeth grinding and jaw clenching during sleep. While its main cause is stress and anxiety and the principal treatment for bruxism includes therapy and learning how to manage these emotional states, Botox can also come in handy because it relaxes the muscles and prevents law clenching.
As for Botox to slim face, this is also known as masseter Botox or jaw Botox. Basically, injecting Botox in the jaw area, into the masseter muscle (which is the muscle responsible for chewing) can be a way of contouring the jaw line and creating a slimmer, balanced shape of the face. Sometimes, because of the fact that it appears as though the face is slimmer, this is also referred to a non-surgical jaw reduction (Botox jaw reduction).
Botox for migraines. When you have recurrent headaches, meaning having headaches for 15 days of more in one month, your healthcare provider might suggest you get Botox injections for migraines to help treat them (Botox migraine; Botox headache). But how can you treat chronic migraine with Botox? Your practitioner will inject Botox into specific locations in the neck and on the head, targeting muscles that are involved in the headache. Because Botox can block neurotransmitters that are involved in muscle contraction, it can prevent migraine attacks. However, this procedure comes with its risks and side effects, some of them being more serious than others (bruising, fatigue, stiffness of the neck, muscle weakness).
Botox for sweating. Botox injections can also be used to treat excessive sweating. How does Botox do that? Simply put, the toxin can block the neurotransmitter that commands the sweat glands to activate, reducing the sweating in the targeted area. The effects of this procedure are estimated between 4 to 12 months, so if you suffer from excessive sweating and are considering Botox injections, you need to prepare for regular injection appointments. Some of the areas on the body that are prone to excessive sweating are the under arms, hands, feet, groin, face, under breasts.
Botox for hair. While it may seem like you can use Botox injections to treat hair damage, that is not the case. Botox for hair or Botox treatment for hair are phrases used by companies for marketing value only, meaning that Botox injection have nothing to do with this type of treatment. However, there is some truth in these phrases, as the products that are marketed as such have quite the same effect on hair as Botox has on the skin, without containing a trace of the Botulinum toxin. How do these products work? Using a filler (keratin for example), the hair treatment acts as a deep conditioner that fill the areas of damaged hair, making it fuller and smoother.
Botox vs dermal fillers (Botox vs Juvederm)
In the case of Botox vs fillers, we know by now what Botox is. But what are dermal fillers? Dermal fillers are substances that can be injected into the skin for volume. Some of these substances can be hyaluronic acid (Juvederm), polylactic acid, Calcium hydroxylapatite and others. These fillers can help plump up the lips, enhance areas on the face, treat scars or wrinkles. In some cases, for a better, lasting result, Botox and dermal fillers are used together.
Is it safe to get Botox during pregnancy?
The short answer is “we don’t know yet” which can easily translate into a shy “no”. Why is that? Well, there isn’t enough research done on this aspect, with the implications on pregnancy and the baby not being fully understood yet. So you might consider twice before getting Botox injections if you’re expecting considering this type of intervention already has quite a list of potential side effects as it is.
Is Botox and breastfeeding a good combo?
Just as we’ve answered the question regarding pregnancy, there isn’t enough research about breastfeeding as well (Botox breastfeeding). However, some research indicates that there is no evidence of the toxin which is injected directly into a muscle to travel into the mother’s system and reach her breast milk. Keeping in mind the little body of research and the side effects of Botox, consult with your doctor for a more second opinion before getting the injections.
Botox pros and cons
We’ve seen so far what Botox effects can be, with some of the Botox benefits being:
- it has great results that have been clinically tested and approved (most of them);
- it’s a quick and non-invasive procedure with minimal pain (sometimes you can get a numbing cream applied to the area before the injections);
- you can see the results within the first week;
- the effects are not permanent, which means that if you didn’t like the Botox results, they will clear up in a few months anyway;
- it can treat and address serious conditions that impair one’s quality of life (such as migraines, bruxism, sweating and more).
As for some of the cons of getting Botox injections, they include the costs (it can be quite expensive considering its effects die down in a few months and you have to get them again), you can lose control of some muscles, the toxin can trigger an allergic reaction and it has quite the list of side effects. Some of the side effects include (they also depend on the area targeted):
- pain and bruising at the injection site;
- droopy eyelids;
- muscle weakness.
Who can give Botox injections?
You might be wondering who can administer Botox injections. While this is subjected to regulations and laws specific to every state (Botox laws by state), the safest bet would be that a physician, a PA (physician assistant), dentist or another healthcare professional. However, keep in mind that a practitioner specialized in the cosmetic and aesthetics field can yield the best results. You can always search for Botox clinic near me or Botox near me to find some practitioners in your area that offer this service, but remember to check for the regulations in your country for this type of procedure in order to see if they are licensed to perform it.
Botox is a substance that can be injected into the muscles in order for them to relax. The main purpose of Botox injections is in the cosmetics field since this substance can help smooth out unwanted lines and wrinkles on your skin. Make sure to do your research on the subject before deciding to get Botox and consult with a specialist in the field because the side effects and risks are worth taking into account.