Botox, short for Botulinum toxin, is a notorious word in the world of medicine. To the person on the street, the word “Botox” triggers images of expressionless, plastic-looking Hollywood stars. Botox provokes both fear and intrigue in people who are trying to achieve beauty. They fear the commonly advertised side effects, yet are curious about how it can enhance their looks.

1. Botox Is A Bacteria?

Botulinum toxin is derived from the bacteria Clostridium Botulinum. This is a bacteria that was in the early days, found in expired canned food. It is a toxin that is highly potent; a small amount is sufficient to be lethal. This toxin works by blocking the signal transmission in the nervous system, hence its action in reducing muscle activity by reducing the nerve signals to the muscles.

Botox was already in use medically in the 1960s to treat certain eye conditions. It was only in 1987 when doctors noticed the fact that patients’ frown lines tended to improve after treatment for eye conditions with Botox, that doctors started to use Botox for dermatological effects. Since then, the popularity of Botox injections for facial rejuvenation has risen tremendously.

2. Can Botox Treat All The Wrinkles On My Face?

Botox can only treat lines and wrinkles caused by muscle action. These are termed dynamic lines. Lines that are present on the skin without muscular action are called static lines, and these do not respond to Botox injections. Other treatments such as laser resurfacing, fillers, or chemical peels would be more beneficial for static lines.

Examples of dynamic lines that respond to Botox treatment are forehead lines, frown lines between the brows, crow’s feet, bunny lines on the nose and upper lip lines.

In addition to wrinkles, Botox can also be used for facial contouring, to achieve a less squarish-looking jawline.

3. Will I Look Like An Expressionless Hollywood Star After Botox?

Being expressionless is generally frowned upon (pun intended). The aims of Botox treatment should never be to eliminate wrinkles at the expense of the character and balance of the face. We usually use small doses of Botox to reduce dynamic lines, while trying to preserve the natural expressions and character of the face. The classic, expressionless Hollywood face is a result of overaggressive treatment by the doctor, or unrealistic expectations of the patient, usually a combination of both.

Therefore it is always a good idea to use the smallest dose of Botox possible to achieve the desired effect. If the results are still not ideal after the initial treatment, top up treatments can be done 2 weeks later during a review.

4. Is Botox Safe For Everyone?

Most patients tolerate Botox injections without problems. Side effects of Botox are usually self-limiting and do not cause long-term problems. However, caution needs to be exercised in certain groups of patients, such as patients with nerve or muscular disorders, pregnant and breastfeeding patients, as well as patients taking certain medications which may interfere with the actions of Botox.

5. What Are The Side Effects Of Botox I Should Know About?

  • Slight swelling of the injection area for about 6-24hours. This is usually painless
  • Bleeding and bruising of injection site happens rarely
  • Allergic reactions to Botox and its formulations are also rare
  • Eyelid or Brow droop: this happens usually with forehead or frown line injections but is not common. It usually resolves itself over 4-6 weeks.
  • Headaches and aches of the muscle group injected are common but usually last only 1-2 days

Most of these side effects can be minimised by careful injection.

6. Will I Get Addicted To Botox? Will My Wrinkles Come Back With A Vengeance Once I Stop Doing Botox?

Botox has no addictive properties, but you will probably get used to how your face looks with the effects of Botox. After Botox treatment, the actions of the muscles injected are reduced, therefore the wrinkles are less likely to return because you are used to using those muscles less. The wrinkles should not rebound or become worse than before.

7. What Do I Need To Look Out For After I Have Done A Botox Treatment

Avoid lying down for the first 4 hours. Do not massage the injected areas. Try to avoid strenuous exercise the first 2-3 days. Wash your face gently.

There you have it!