What you need to know about Botox

Are the telltale wrinkles around your face needling you to consider Botox injections to eliminate the signs of aging? If so, you are not alone. For millions of people these minimally invasive treatments are an affordable way to slow the hands of time, but before getting into a sticky situation, it’s important to poke around and find out all you can about this procedure.

What is Botox?

Botox (botulinum toxin type A) is a bacterial toxin that has been commercially available since the 1980s as a treatment for muscle spasms. Eventually the drug was found to be beneficial for a number of medical conditions including bladder issues, excessive sweating and writers’ cramps, but it is probably best known for its unique side effect: to temporarily eradicate frown lines and wrinkles.

Dr. Amy Lai MD, SACS with Ear, Nose & Throat Associates P.C., says Botox is a safe, minimally invasive, anti-aging procedure that can last between eight to 12 weeks. It provides effective results and is very affordable compared to a larger procedure such as a facelift.

“Botox is a quick procedure that does not hurt,” she said. “Patients see the full result of the treatment within two weeks and while there can be some mild side effects at the injection sites the overall discomfort is minimal, provided you are a good candidate for the product.”

Not everyone is. Pregnant women are generally discouraged from seeking Botox treatments as are those suffering from neuromuscular disorders such as ALS and Parkinson’s Disease. Lai says while Botox treatments are offered in a number of settings, it’s important for patients to find a physician with training in facial plastic surgery to help assess your particular needs and find the best option for you.

What does it cost?

Botox is priced by the unit, which ranges from $12 to $18 or more. The number of units one needs is largely dependent on the area being injected as well as the person’s skin type. Lai says some people need more product than others so even if the forehead on average requires 20 units, your specific case may require more or less.

“As a general rule I suggest starting with less until we know what your skin needs. No one wants that caricature look and you can always add more, but you can’t take it away,” Lai said. “It simply has to wear off. But that’s another benefit to Botox as opposed to a more invasive procedure. If you don’t like it, you can always let it wear off. You can’t do that with a facelift.”

When should I consider Botox?

There is no magical age at which someone is an ideal candidate for Botox injections. Everyone’s skin ages differently so it is best to discuss your options with your physician in order to determine if you are a good candidate for Botox. Some physicians have treated people in their 20s while others wait until their 30s or 40s before getting the injections. Keep in mind that Botox does not prevent wrinkles from forming and because it is a drug, it’s generally best to wait until you need it.

“Earlier is okay, though, if you have deep forehead lines, or the deep ‘11’ sign between the brows,” said David Colbert, MD, founder of the New York Dermatology Group.

Quick tips to know about Botox

  • For best results, find a practitioner who specializes in facial plastic surgery or dermatology.
  • Ask if they will charge by the unit or by area of the face.
  • Do your homework about the process as well as any potential side effects.
  • Don’t worry if you experience some mild irritation around the injection sites. This usually ebbs within minutes.
  • You can expect to see the full results of your treatment within a few days to a few weeks afterward.

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