Welcome to your skin check-in with Life & Style’s resident health and beauty expert, Dr. Will Kirby, a celebrity dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer of LaserAway. Every week, he’ll be spilling his candid thoughts and professional advice on all things skin, beauty and wellness as it relates to you — and your favorite stars.
Once the punch line of cocktail party jokes, Botox cosmetic is now nearly ubiquitous in modern society. As you probably already know, it is a cosmetic injection that helps prevent the appearance of facial lines and wrinkles and usually lasts about three to four months. It’s the original neuromodulator, most studied and has the most safety research. But rumors, gossip and myths still remain! With that, I’m going to tackle the 10 most common so that you can get the truth on this amazing aesthetic product!
1) Botox Hurts:
The needles used to inject Botox are unbelievably small and the injection experience is nothing like the pain of getting a vaccine — like the flu shot. As such, while Botox isn’t completely painless, it is extremely well tolerated and most first-time Botox patients are refreshingly surprised to find that they barely feel it. On a scale of one to 10, most patients report that the discomfort associated with Botox injections is a one or a two.
2) You’ll Be Frozen:
While some patients want very little movement, most patients seeking Botox just want their facial lines softened and they want a rested natural expression. See, Botox is dose-dependent — a.k.a. the more injected, the better it works. For this reason, it is imperative that you have an open line of communication with the practitioner so you can let them know exactly what results you are looking for.
3) Botox Is Dangerous:
At the doses used in cosmetic settings, Botox is exceedingly safe. In fact, all side effects associated with Botox are transient (meaning that they wear off). But just to frame this for you, extremely high doses are used in special therapeutic situations. So, while you could get a bruise or even temporarily eyelid drooping, it will resolve in a fairly short amount of time. Think of it this way: Bad Botox injections are like a bad haircut … you’ll be fine in two weeks.
4) Wrinkles Will Get Worse If You Stop Botox:
There is no mechanism of action by which wrinkles could become more significant if you stop using Botox. Any Botox patients who elect to forgo future injections simply continue to slowly manifest wrinkles as they normally would without Botox.
5) Botox Is Only Used for Cosmetic Reasons:
While cosmetic Botox injections are widely popular, therapeutic injections constitute a large portion of the actual Botox injections performed. Non-cosmetic indications include eye disorders, muscle spasms in children and movement disorders. It is even used to treat headaches and excess sweating.
6) Botox Is Addictive:
The scientific answer is that Botox is absolutely not chemically addicting or habituating in any way. That said, there is a psychological component where people injected with Botox note that they look and feel better so they do tend to continue with Botox injections.
7) Botox Is Botulism:
Botox is the brand name of a toxin produced by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. In large amounts, this same toxin can cause a type of naturally occurring, but dangerous, food poisoning called botulism. That said, while these two entities are related conceptually, there is actually no overlap between them.
8) You Build Up a Tolerance to Botox:
Not only is this not true, but also, paradoxically, the opposite actually occurs. The more often you use Botox, the longer you can go in between injections. See, Botox temporarily causes purposeful muscle atrophy and it is common knowledge that over time, with consistent treatments, you need fewer units injected and fewer injection sessions to keep those muscles relaxed and thus to keep your face with minimal wrinkles.
9) Botox Is Only for Old People:
The fastest-growing population of patients receiving Botox injections is millennials. So while your mom (or grandmother!) might get more units of Botox injected and they might receive Botox injections more frequently, younger patients understand that the starting earlier prevents unsightly wrinkles from ever forming so using tiny doses sooner is not only provides efficient cost savings but it also keep you looking younger longer and more naturally.
10) Only a Doctor Can Inject Botox:
Many injections are performed by plastic surgeons or dermatologists. The truth is that most cosmetic Botox injections in the United States are performed by allied healthcare professionals — like registered nurses, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The key to any successful aesthetic treatment is not so much the academic degrees obtained long ago, but more so by actual clinician experience so make sure you choose a place with an excellent reputation, where your questions are fully addressed, and where injections are commonplace.
In closing, while Botox isn’t for everyone, if you want to improve your overall level of skin fitness, minimize the signs of aging and have a more rested, natural look, I politely suggest that you make an appointment with a Botox cosmetic provider to see if it is right for you!