Your Complete Guide to Botox

With the advancements in cosmetic surgery, it has never been easier to halt the hands of time and maintain a youthful complexion. The most commonly known procedure is Botox, we are all aware of the name, but what is Botox and what does it do?

What exactly is Botox?

Botox, or Botulinum Toxic Type A, is a muscle relaxant that is used to temporarily freeze certain muscles in the face, therefore preventing them from causing wrinkles. The treatment was first developed for cosmetic use by a plastic surgeon in Sacremento, California back in 1989, and after formal trials in early 2002, Botox went on to be widely used within the medical and professional cosmetic surgery industry.

How does Botox work?

At the site of the wrinkle, Botox is injected into the muscle at the junction where the nerve endings meet muscle cells. This blocks the signals between the nerves and the muscles, meaning that the injected muscle cannot contract, which in turn causes the wrinkles to relax and soften. As a result, Botox decreases the ability to squint or frown because the muscles in these areas are temporarily frozen.

3 reasons you may consider having Botox

1) To temporarily remove the signs of aging – Botox is most successful before wrinkles are deep set, and it is generally used to treat the upper half of the face. Botox works best on ‘active’ facial lines such as crow’s feet and frown lines.

  1. To prevent the signs of aging – As Botox weakens facial muscles over time, younger people may choose to have Botox to help prevent wrinkles from setting in. One study showed that there has been a 56% year on year increase in enquiries for Botox from 18-25 year old
  2. To treat medical issues such as eye squints, migraines, muscle stiffness and spasms, incontinence and excessive sweating.

The vast majority of people who have had Botox have been very happy with the result. Patients have expressed an increase in confidence as they undoubtedly feel younger as a result of their more youthful looks.

As the treatment isn’t permanent, you will require further sessions to maintain the effect, the frequency that you will require ‘top ups’ depends on the individual but the average time between treatments is three to four months. Most patients see this as an advantage as they can ‘try out’ Botox and see how they like the effects without it having to be a lifetime commitment like some other forms of cosmetic surgery.

Is Botox treatment age restricted?

As Botox is used in the cosmetic world to treat wrinkles, it is unlikely that individuals under the age of 25 would require help in this area. However, the medical guidelines suggest that the treatment should be made available to patients between the ages of 18-65. Evidence suggests that individuals over the age of 65 may have diminished neural junctions and therefore don’t respond as well to the treatment, but arguably, if their muscle tone is good some patients may still benefit from Botox until a much older age.

Where is Botox treatment available?

Botox has become increasingly popular in recent years with many patients scheduling their treatment as they would a regular hair appointment. Coasting on the popularity of the procedure, many high street beauty salons have started offering Botox treatments, often at very competitive prices. This is clearly incredibly dangerous, as the beauty therapists who perform the procedure rarely have had any formal training in administering Botox. There have also been reports of a worrying trend of ‘Botox Parties’, where a (generally unqualified) therapist performs Botox injections en masse to a group of willing individuals. As with all medical procedures, it is imperative that patients seek out treatment from qualified medical professionals who have undergone extensive training to be able to successfully carry out cosmetic procedures.

Are there any areas of the face where it isn’t advisable to have Botox?

As Botox temporarily prevents muscle activity, it isn’t advisable to have it in areas where you wouldn’t want restricted movement, such as around the mouth area. Dermal fillers are generally used to treat the lower half of the face and work to complement the effect achieved by Botox on the upper half of the face.

In some cases, deep set wrinkles caused by sun damage and gravity don’t always respond well to Botox. Your private consultant will be able to advise you on alternative procedures that may be more appropriate to treat these areas.

Is Botox available to everyone?

It is not recommended to have Botox if:

  • You are pregnant
  • Breastfeeding
  • Suffer from a neurological disease

It is advisable to have a thorough consultation with your private consultant prior to treatment to discuss the procedure and ensure that you don’t have any health issues that may affect the success or safety of receiving Botox.

What happens during the treatment?

Botox is a non-surgical procedure, where the treatment is administered to the required areas via a series of injections using a very fine needle. Occasionally, a local anaesthetic may be required to ensure maximum comfort during the procedure, however, Botox generally creates minimal discomfort. A Botox injection only takes a few minutes and you are able to go home straight after the treatment.

How quickly will I see the results?

It generally takes around three to five days until you can see the initial signs of change and then it can take up to two weeks for the full effect of Botox to be realised. Many patients find the gradual process preferable to an instant change, as they can get used to the effects as the treatment takes form.

After having the treatment, how long do the effects last?

On average, Botox lasts between four to six months although it very much depends on how each individual responds to the treatment. Lines and wrinkles will gradually begin to reappear as the muscle action returns, at which point it is safe to have another treatment.

Over a period of time, after several treatments you may find that the lines and wrinkles start to naturally appear less severe, this will happen as the muscles have been trained to relax.

Is there anything I should do to prepare for Botox treatment?

It is advisable to avoid drinking alcohol for the week preceding treatment. It is also recommended that you don’t take any aspirin anti-inflammatory medications for two weeks before treatment, as this can help reduce the risk of bruising.

How many times can I have Botox treatments?

There is currently no limit to the amount of times that an individual can receive Botox treatments, although there are arguments that suggest that the more treatments a patient receives the higher their tolerance becomes. This could mean that they may require additional doses performed at more frequent intervals and at higher concentrations. In line with medical guidelines, there are limits to doses and quantities received during any one treatment of a particular muscle. During one session, you would normally have a maximum of three treatments.

When’s the best time to have a one off Botox treatment for a special occasion?

Often patients choose to use Botox to coincide with certain events such as a wedding. Getting the timing right is essential, especially as it can take up to a fortnight for the effect to be fully realised and also localised bruising may occur in the week after treatment. With this in mind, it is advisable to have the treatment one month before the event to ensure that you achieve the maximum effect. For an event as important as a wedding, it may be a good idea to try out the treatment a few months in advance of the big day. That way you can ensure that you like the effect that Botox gives you and that you aren’t likely to develop any side effects.

Can Botox treatment become addictive?

As with everything that relates to body image it is possible that an individual can get carried away by witnessing positive improvements to their appearance. That is why it is essential to only use qualified medical professionals who will advise and assess each individual patient to ensure that they are receiving the right treatment for their own personal situation. The positive effects achieved through Botox can undoubtedly encourage people to go on to have further, permanent cosmetic surgery, however, any risk of going too far is minimalised when the subject is sensibly approached with their trusted private consultant.

What else is Botox used for?

Prior to the widespread use of Botox in cosmetic surgery, the muscle relaxant has been used within the medical world for many years for multiple conditions. It is frequently used to treat a number of common medical conditions such as eye squints, migraines, muscle stiffness and spasms, incontinence and even excessive sweating.

Are there any risks to Botox?

As with all medical procedures, there will always be a slight risk, however, Botox injections are generally well tolerated with few side effects. Temporary bruising can be expected, although the amount and duration depends very much on the individual and on the extent of work carried out. Occasionally patients may experience headaches, mild nausea and temporary drooping of the eyelids, however, all side effects should be short-lived. In the rare case that you do get a reaction that you are worried about, contact your health professional immediately, in the majority of cases, side effects are likely to be temporary whilst the treatment is acclimatising. To minimise risk it is essential that you use a qualified medical practitioner to carry out the procedure, rather than a beauty therapist who has no medical background.

How do I arrange to have the treatment?

At Pall Mall Medical we can arrange a free consultation at your earliest convenience to discuss the type of treatment that is best suited to your needs and answer any questions that you may have. You will then go on to have the Botox injections with one of our highly qualified doctors, whose wealth of experience will ensure that you are in safe hands. Call to make your appointment today and wave goodbye to those unwanted signs of ageing.

Further resources

  • Dermal fillers are often used alongside Botox to treat wrinkles in the lower half of the face. You can find out more about dermal fillers, including how much treatment costs, by reading our Dermal Filler Treatments page.