What is Botox?
Botox is the brand name for botulinum toxin type A, a muscle relaxer that's been used for decades to treat a variety of medical conditions and for cosmetic reasons. Botox injections are made from onobotulinum toxin type A.
Botox is most commonly used as an injectable cosmetic treatment to smooth the appearance of facial lines and wrinkles, most commonly to reduce forehead wrinkles and forehead lines, crow's feet and frown lines. It can also be used to treat medical conditions and certain disorders such as chronic migraines and headaches, excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), overactive bladder, and a lazy eye.
For a more detailed view of what Botox is and how it works please click here to read our FAQ.
How Does Botox Work?
Botox is a purified protein that’s injected into muscles to relax them by blocking certain chemical signals from nerves that cause muscle contractions. It’s made from Clostridium botulinum toxin and has been used for medical and cosmetic purposes since the 1980s. Botox injections are often used to temporarily relax the facial muscles that cause facial wrinkles, but it can also be helpful in treating other areas of the body, such as underarms, neck and hands.
Botox was originally discovered by scientists who were studying bacteria called Clostridium botulinum in the 1970s. This type of bacteria occurs naturally in soil and water, which means that if you eat food that contains it without properly cooking it first (like improperly prepared fish or eggs), you could become ill or even die! But when used properly by a medical practitioner such as a licensed doctor, dentist or nurse practitioner, this toxin can help eliminate wrinkles on your face while keeping them safe from harm too!
To find out more about how Botox works please read our full 'How Does Botox Work?' guide.
What Is Botulinum Toxin?
Botox is a brand name for onobotulinumtoxin type A (botulinum toxin), a neurotoxic protein that is injected into specific muscles with a thin needle to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Botulinum Toxin injections prevent the release of certain chemical signals and messengers coming from nerves which provide a temporary reduction in muscle contraction and movement.
Other brands of botulinum toxin available in the UK include Bocouture, Azzalure, Letybo and Nuceiva. New brands are emerging, but these are currently the most well-established and widely used. They are all approved for cosmetic use in adults.
What Areas Can Be Treated With Botox?
Botox can be used to treat a variety of conditions. Some of the most common uses for Botox include:
It can also be used to treat:
For more detailed information on the areas that can treat Botox please view our guide.
What Does a Botox Treatment Feel Like?
You will feel nothing at all when Botox is being injected into your skin. It is a very quick process, and patients typically feel no pain during their treatment. The entire procedure takes only a few minutes to complete and involves an injection of a small amount of Botox into the area that needs it. The medication works to temporarily relax muscles that cause wrinkles, which gives you smoother skin for up to four months before any further treatments are needed.
What Are the Risks of Having Botox?
Allergic reactions: A small percentage of people develop an allergic reaction to Botox. However, an allergic reaction to Botox is very rare. Symptoms can include redness, burning, itching and swelling at the injection site. If you experience a severe reaction after getting Botox and have trouble breathing, double vision, or trouble swallowing, contact your medical practitioner immediately and seek medical attention.
Droopy eyelids: It's not uncommon for patients to develop droopy eyelids, also called ptosis, after getting Botox injections in their forehead area (glabellar). Apart from waiting, your medical practitioner can give you eyedrops to help with droopy eyelids or administer more Botox to counteract relaxed muscles. Droopy eyelids may negatively affect your confidence but will typically only last for four to six weeks.
Dry mouth: Masseter treatment with Botox could potentially cause temporary dry mouth. It's unlikely to cause such a side effect if you had a treatment in the upper face. Side effects like this more commonly occur among men than women and usually last only a few days following treatment, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). If dry mouth continues beyond that point or becomes unbearable while it lasts then you may need additional medication like lip balm or throat lozenges until it goes away completely - but don't worry - this isn't permanent!
How Soon Will I See the Results?
The process of Botox injection takes only a few minutes and you can return to your normal activities immediately.
The results of Botox will begin to be visible within days of the treatment, with the full effects being evident within two weeks.
How Long Does Botox Last?
No one knows how long Botox lasts. It varies from person to person and from area to area. Generally speaking, it lasts between three and six months. The most important thing is not how long it lasts but whether or not you are happy with the results.
Who Can Have Botox?
Botox is safe for most people, but there are some groups of people who should not have Botox.
People with certain neuromuscular disorders such as Myasthenia Gravis
People who are taking certain muscle relaxants and certain antibiotics
People with inflammation or infection at the potential treatment site
Pregnant women: The solution to this problem is simple - women who are pregnant should not take Botox.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding. There is not enough data to suggest if it's safe to use botox while pregnant or breastfeeding, It is best to be on the safe side and avoid treatment while you are pregnant or breastfeeding
People with certain conditions: People with bleeding disorders, such as haemophilia or von Willebrand disease, should not have any kind of injectable medication because it can cause them to bleed excessively or even die from an internal haemorrhage or an injury caused by uncontrolled bleeding after injection. In addition, anyone who has had previous reactions to botulinum toxin (also known as Botox) injections or any other injectable medications should not receive another injection when it is done under local anaesthesia because those symptoms will return if you have another one and could be worse than before the first time around!
When Should I Start Getting Botox?
It's best to start your treatment when you want to prevent the earliest visible fine lines and wrinkles from becoming deep and visible. While botox treatment has been approved for people age 18+, it’s best to start your treatment in your late twenties or early thirties, or when you begin to notice the early signs of ageing.
The best time to start is before you have wrinkles since it's easier to treat wrinkles when they're still developing.
How Long Does Botox Treatment Take?
Getting botox treatment takes only a few minutes but can vary depending on the treatment area. It's injected with a fine needle into the muscles after they are assessed on animation by your medical practitioner to help find the right injection points.
The treatment takes about 15-20 minutes.
Can I Go Back to Work After Having Botox?
Yes, you can go back to work after having Botox treatments. In fact, most people do just that! You rarely may have some mild bruising and swelling associated with the treatment. This is usually gone within a few days but if it doesn't go away or becomes worse, make sure to call your doctor.
It's important not to wear make-up for at least 24 hours. You can also use cold packs and arnica cream (available online) to reduce bruising, swelling and redness of the skin around your eyes.
What Should You Not Do After Botox?
Staying out of the sun is important. You should also avoid the following:
Applying skin care products or makeup for the next 24 hours
Rubbing or massaging the treatment area
Doing strenuous exercise that potentially can make you hot and sweaty
Going into saunas, spas, hot and steamy environment
Using retin-A, alpha hydroxy or glycolic acids on your skin
If you have any questions, consult your Doctor.
Will I Look Unnatural After Getting Botox?
Botox will not make you look unnatural. It is possible to overdo Botox, but this would just result in an overly frozen appearance and not any sort of unnaturalness. The idea that Botox makes you look frozen is a myth, as the effect is actually very subtle and natural looking.
In terms of looking like a different person, the only way someone could tell is if they had seen you before getting Botox and then saw you again after it was injected—and even then it's hard to say if what they saw was really an undeniable difference or just something they "think" they see because they were told by someone else (or read on the internet) that there should be one! This can lead people into believing that their loved ones will suddenly transform completely once they start getting injections regularly—but there's no reason why this would happen unless those loved ones had already been anticipating such a drastic change beforehand... which seems unlikely given how subtle the effects are overall!
The same applies to age: If friends start noticing that everyone around them seems younger than usual (and therefore assume it must be due to something going on inside), maybe we need more Botox ourselves? No one can see themselves getting older in real-time anyway... so why worry about what other people might think?
Are There Side Effects to Getting Botox? Is Botox Safe?
Yes. However, the possible side effects are rare and usually only last a few days.
The most common side effect is bruising at the injection site. This can take anywhere from a few hours up to a week to go away with no permanent damage.
Other less common but more serious complications include:
Nerve injury affecting swallowing or breathing
Dry mouth (which usually goes away after about 3 weeks)
How Often Can I Have Botox Injections?
The answer to this question comes down to two factors: how long Botox takes to wear off and how quickly your muscles replenish themselves.
Botox will typically last between three months and four months. As soon as you stop getting injections, your muscles will start growing back to their normal strength; this process takes a few months.
Who Should You Trust to Do Your Botox?
Research a licensed medical doctor or nurse practitioner.
Find a licensed doctor or nurse practitioner who has experience.
Find a licensed doctor or nurse practitioner who is honest about what can be achieved with Botox and how long it lasts, as well as any potential side effects or complications.
Look for someone who isn't just going to do what you want because they think that's what you want them to say - this will save both of you future headaches down the road.
For more information see our full guide on Who Should You Trust To Do Your Botox?
How Much Does Botox Cost?
Botox is a popular procedure and there are many options for clinics, doctors and their prices. It's important to look at your options before making a decision so that you are comfortable with what you pay for your Botox treatment.
Botox is generally more affordable than other cosmetic procedures like laser skin resurfacing or chemical peels because it only requires one visit every few months rather than multiple visits over several weeks or months straight (like laser treatments).
If comparing Botox vs facelift, Botox costs less than half as much as a facelift!
Please see our 'How Much Does Botox Cost?' for more detailed information.
There are many different types of Botox available, and each one can have different side effects and benefits vary depending on what you want to accomplish with the injections. This is a perfect example of why it’s so important to have a discussion with your medical practitioner before starting any treatment.
As always, if you have any questions you can use our Ask An Expert where you can ask for more advice direct from a trusted, experienced medical practitioner.
If you want to look for your nearest accredited and verified Botox clinic, use our local Botox clinic finder.
Not sure Botox treatment is right for you? We have lots of Botox FAQs, Botox videos, Botox reviews and Botox before and after images for you to do more research if you are ready to speak to a medically trained Botox injector.