What is botulinum toxin for facial wrinkles?
The first signs of aging are often wrinkles around your eyes, forehead, cheeks, and lips. This is because wrinkles are a typical feature of the human face. But many people feel wrinkles make them look tired or older.
To reduce the appearance of wrinkles, some people choose to have injections (shots) of botulinum toxin. These injections are often called by their brand names, such as Botox®, Dysport®, Xeomin®, or Jeuveau™. The injections relax specific muscles in the face, and certain wrinkles become less noticeable for a period.
Types of wrinkles
Wrinkles form as creases in the skin after repetitive facial expression since the skin is connected to the muscle’s underneath. There are two types of wrinkles: dynamic wrinkles and very fine lines and wrinkles.
Dynamic wrinkles are caused by facial muscles that move when you smile, laugh, and squint. These are often around the lips, on the forehead, and between the eyebrows. They are also the “crows’ feet” at the corner of your eyelids. Everyone is born with dynamic wrinkles. As you age, these wrinkles get deeper and easier to see. Botulinum toxin can be used to make these dynamic wrinkles less noticeable.
Very fine lines and wrinkles are formed when collagen in the skin starts to thin. Collagen is protein just beneath and within deep skin layers. Aging and sun damage cause collagen thinning. It makes the skin on your face stretch and sag, creating fine wrinkles. Botulinum toxin does not erase fine lines and wrinkles. However, there are other ways to reduce their appearance.
How does botulinum toxin (Botox) work?
A specific type of bacteria produces botulinum toxin. In higher amounts, it can be poisonous. However, only small, weaker doses of botulinum toxin are used to reduce facial wrinkles.
When botulinum toxin is injected, it blocks specific nerve signals that make muscles contract. As a result, the muscles relax, reducing unwanted wrinkles. This effect lasts about 3–6 months. After that, the muscles move again, and wrinkles come back.
When you have botulinum toxin injected, your doctor may first rub an anesthetic cream on the area to numb it. Then they will inject the medicine into specific facial muscles.
This only takes a few minutes and can be done right in the doctor’s office. Ask your doctor what activities should be avoided immediately after your treatment.
Within the first week of your treatment, you should notice your muscles begin to relax and have fewer facial lines and wrinkles. This effect wears off in about 3–6 months.
Botulinum toxin injections can work for wrinkle prevention.
Because botulinum toxin relaxes the facial muscles, treatment can prevent wrinkles before they form or can prevent fine wrinkles from deepening. Starting treatment at a younger age and maintenance treatments can stop wrinkles before they start.
Botulinum toxin injections usually work for wrinkle reduction.
For most people, these injections help wrinkles go away. But for some people, wrinkles may look just the same. Talk with your doctor about what to expect from botulinum toxin injections. They can tell you about other wrinkle-reduction options if injections do not work for you.
Who can get botulinum toxin injections?
It would be best if you are healthy and at least 18 years old before you could get botulinum toxin injections.
Some people should not get botulinum toxin. They include those who:
- have a neuromuscular disease (such as multiple sclerosis or myasthenia gravis)
- are pregnant or nursing
- have weakness in specific facial muscles
- have ptosis (drooping eyelids), deep facial scars, or uneven facial features (when features are not the same on both sides of the face)
- have skin problems near the injection area
If you plan to get botulinum toxin injections, tell your doctor about your medical history and all the prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements you take.
While botulinum toxin injections may help, they sometimes cause side effects or other health problems.
Common side effects include:
- eye redness, tearing, or irritation
- redness or bruising in the injection area. This is more likely to happen if you take aspirin or blood-thinning medicine. Ask your doctor if you should stop taking those medicines a few days before getting a botulinum toxin injection.
- Drinking alcohol 24 hours before treatment also increases redness and bruising.
A less common but more severe side effect is ptosis (drooping eyelids). This can make it hard to see. Ptosis should go away when the botulinum toxin wears off in a couple of months. After that, speak with your doctor about other options.
To help reduce the possibility of side effects, you may also be asked to sit upright (not lie down) and avoid pressing on the treated area for about 4 hours after the injection. Also, your doctor may recommend you not exercise for 24 hours after treatment.
Thinking about getting botulinum toxin injections for wrinkles?
At the Center for Advanced Eye Care, Dr. Blair Armstrong can talk with you regarding Botox injections. She will consult on the best approach for you based on your eyes, including the muscles and structures surrounding them.