Botulinum toxin, or commonly called Botox (including BOTOX, Xeomin, Dysport and others) is the most popular cosmetic treatment in Canada but is still surrounded by a myriad of questions, caution and maybe a bit of confusion. Before investing in any cosmetic procedure it is always good to get the facts straight. Hopefully this will help demystify some of the myths and more behind Botox
Does Botox prevent wrinkles? Absolutely! Our face is one of the most active areas of muscle contraction on the body. We contract the muscles on our face hundreds of times a day: smiling, talking, laughing, frowning, focusing, reading, chewing, drinking….endless muscle activity. Over time all this muscle contraction starts to etch fine lines around the area resulting in horizontal lines in the forehead, vertical lines between the eyes (the infamous “11’s”), crows feet, and frown lines. Botox reduces the strength of this muscle contraction softening and temporarily eliminating the lines (aka wrinkles)
Does it hurt? Not really. The injections are done with a very fine needle. If a patient is sensitive to injections or there is thin skin in an area ice or topical numbing cream can be used to help
Will it make me look frozen or feel numb? No, Botox does not affect the nerves that cause feeling so you will not feel numbness. A good injector knows how much Botox to use in a given area to soften the action of the muscle resulting in the reduction or elimination of wrinkles while still maintain the ability to be expressive and natural.
When is the best time to start getting Botox? This really depends on the individual. I have 30 year old patients come in for “preventative Botox” that have very little muscle action in their face and do not need treatment. Alternatively I have patients in their 20s with very active muscles that can use a bit of Botox to prevent the formation of wrinkles that will invariably form. My rule of thumb is if you don’t have wrinkles to hide you don’t need Botox. That said, it is safe and effective over long term use
Are there any side effects? Botulinum toxin is a drug and like all drugs are unfortunately some side effects. About 2% of people experience mild eyelid drooping for about 2 weeks after treatment and bruising is a possibly as with any injection. If a qualified doctor is treating you the side effects of Botox are mild and minimal.
How long does it last? Botox lasts approximately 3-4 months. People with more active muscles and/or metabolism tend to need treatment sooner than less expressive people
What can I expect after my appointment? Nothing really. Botox takes about 5 days to start taking effect (although some people swear they notice it the next day). The full effect of your treatment can be seen after 2 weeks so if you are planning for a big event keep this in mind.
Dr. Heidi Rootes
naturopathic doctor and cosmetic physician