Botox® is one of the world’s most famous brand names. Ever since the FDA approved Botox® for the cosmetic treatment of wrinkles in 2002, Botox® injections have been the world’s most popular cosmetic procedure, non-surgical and surgical, every year.
Why all the adoration? Botox® works. Plain and simple. It effectively erases wrinkles and lines on the upper third of the face for about four months. We provide Botox® for our patients at our Eye Care Institute offices in Santa Rosa.
What is Botox?
Botox® is an injectable classified as a neuromodulator. Because it is made primarily from the botulinum toxin type A, it sounds kind of scary. Not so. Way back in the 1950s scientists discovered that if a tiny amount of the toxin was injected into a muscle, it temporarily stopped that muscle from contracting. This proved instantly intriguing as a medical treatment for issues with involuntary muscle spasms. In fact, that turned out to be the first FDA approval for Botox® — for the treatment of involuntary eyelid spasms (blepharospasm) in 1989.
But Botox® became a household name in 2002. That was the year the FDA approved Botox for aesthetic use, removing frown lines and forehead lines. The FDA added crow’s feet approval in 2013, although it had been used off-label for years before that.
How does Botox erase wrinkles?
Botox® works by blocking the acetylcholine, the nerve messengers, in muscles. When injected into a muscle, the botulinum toxin blocks the nerve messages sent from the muscle to the brain. The brain never receives the message to contract the muscle, so the muscle stays relaxed.
Why does this matter for wrinkles? Certain wrinkles, known as dynamic wrinkles, form due to muscle contractions when we make various expressions such as frowning and showing surprise. Go ahead. Make a frown or squint. You can feel the muscles around your eyes, brows, and on your forehead engage. Over time we form hundreds of thousands of those expressions and muscle contractions. As we age and our skin thins, wrinkles begin to form on the surface skin above these muscle contractions.
You see where this is going. When Botox® is injected into the muscles that contract and create your crow’s feet, it blocks the nerve messages, so the muscle stays relaxed. This erases or dramatically reduces the crow’s feet on the surface skin. Botox® keeps the muscles relaxed for around four months.
Who is an ideal candidate for Botox?
It depends if you’re trying to erase dynamic wrinkles. If you want to address crow’s feet, the 11s between your eyebrows, and forehead lines, then Botox is the answer.
However, if you want to do something about those creases and wrinkles on the lower half of your face — smile lines, marionette lines, parentheses lines, barcode lines, and the like — Botox® is not the answer. In fact, Botox® has no effect on those creases and lines because they aren’t caused by muscle contractions. Instead, those “static” wrinkles form due to sun damage, declining collagen production, personal habits such as smoking, and other factors. Static wrinkles show themselves at all times.
Static wrinkles are the domain of dermal fillers such as Juvéderm® (which we also provide at Eye Care Institute). When these fillers are injected beneath a crease, they instantly add volume, fill the space, and push the surface skin back upwards. This fills the crease or wrinkle.
Where can Botox be used?
The FDA approved Botox® for cosmetic use on the upper third of the face. That’s where you find dynamic wrinkles caused by repeated muscle contractions when we make certain expressions. Botox® works on crow’s feet on the outside of the eyes, on the 11s that form between the eyebrows, and on forehead lines.
Are Botox injections painful?
Dr. Robert Kersten performs our Botox® injections in our Santa Rosa location. He injects Botox® with a very thin, tiny needle. Plus, Botox® does not need to be injected to great depth. Because of those facts, these injections are not painful. Patients don’t ask for a topical anesthetic, equating their Botox® injections with the feeling of a pinprick.
How long does Botox last?
Botox® doesn’t provide immediate effects, unlike dermal fillers that immediately “fill” in areas of volume loss. It takes a few days for Botox® to begin blocking the nerve messages, usually 3-4 days. At that point, Botox® will completely relax the muscle and the wrinkles on the surface skin above will be erased or thoroughly lessened in appearance. This continues for about 4 months in most patients. At that time, your body will absorb the now-inert Botox® and the muscles will begin contracting again, forming wrinkles. Another Botox® session at Eye Care Institute will maintain your results.