It seems like everyone is using Botox now for wrinkles. In fact, it is the number one cosmetic procedure performed in the United States today. So what is all the talk about and why are so many people wanting Botox.

We live in an age where people don’t want to show their age. Every day, advertisement for some type of “Anti-aging” concept crosses our eyes. This doesn’t mean that these therapies stop the aging process, it concerns the methods anyone can use to stop some of the damaging effects of aging, to decrease some of the changes on our face that make us look “aged”, and to decrease medical problems through preventive care. Today, let’s focus on the skin.

There are certain characteristics the make a person’s face look older. These aging changes include the formation of wrinkles and the loss of volume below the skin. Wrinkles form via several mechanisms. One is the contraction of facial muscles, especially prevalent in and around the forehead area. These are the wrinkles that Botox can help the most.

Botox is an injectable medication that relaxes these facial muscles that cause these types of wrinkles. Botox is a refined and precisely measured compound called Botulinum Toxin. If taken in large doses, it is fatal. However, when diluted to miniscule doses and injected precisely, it can relax muscles to smooth out wrinkles and also to “sculpt” the face and neck.

But only wrinkles caused by facial muscle contractions are affected. These muscles move the face to give us facial expressions. These “skin-muscles” are only located in the face. They give our faces expression and communication abilities with or without speech. When the repeat motion of these muscles pulls the skin excessively, a wrinkle forms. After years of repeated motion, these wrinkles or lines can become permanent. However, when the muscles are injected with Botox, the muscles relax, stop pulling, and the wrinkles disappear. The nice thing about Botox is, when performed correctly, the wrinkles disappear but we still can maintain expression of our face.

The lines and wrinkles of facial expression that are treated most frequently with Botox include the following:

Worry Lines – the wrinkles that run side to side across one’s forehead that worsen with concerned thinking.

Crow’s Feet -the lines to the sides of the eyes that worsen with intense smiling.

Frown Lines – the deep creases that run up and down between the eyes that worsen when you’re saddened.

Bunny Lines – the “wrinkled nose” look some people get when they smile hard.

Lip Lines – the wrinkles around the mouth, worsened when one purses the lips.

Marionette Lines – the lines that run from the corners of the mouth downward that pull the mouth down when one is angry or sad.

To treat the entire forehead area, generally around 50 units of Botox is needed. Individual areas can also be treated with lesser amounts, but the best result is with adequate dosing. Treatment around the mouth can be tricky, and usually small amounts of Botox are used, and the results titrated, necessitating more than one treatment to achieve the desired result.

The Botox in given via injections. I use a very tiny needle to inject that most people say feels like a slight pin prick. Ice packs can also be applied before the injections to numb the skin. Ice also decreases the slight bruising that can occur. Most patients are amazed at the difference of less pain from when they received Botox from other offices.

The cost of Botox varies tremendously. Nationally, Botox injections cost $20.00 per unit. We charge around $14 per unit normally, but we run specials on Botox regularly so keep checking our Blog and newsletters regularly to take advantage of these specials.

The results of Botox are amazing. Most people see a very noticeable flattening and smoothing of the treated wrinkles. The effect of Botox is not immediate; it usually peaks in 7 days, and most people see the difference within 2 weeks. The effects of Botox last around three months. Thus, repeat treatments are recommended every three months.

Sometimes, people don’t see the results they desire. This can be from several reasons. They may have very strong muscles causing the wrinkles, thus they need more Botox than normal to relax the muscle. Their skin may have scarred in a wrinkled fashion and no amount of muscle relaxation can smooth out this scar formation; they need facial fillers such as Juvederm or Radiesse to help them.

Side effects from Botox are rare, and the incidence is said to be around 2%. The more common potential side effects include headache, flu-like sensation, nausea, and temporary eyelid droop. Eyelid droop is caused if Botox is injected too low in the forehead or too far below the eye. These go away, but sometimes they persist for the time the Botox is effective.

There are several added benefits of Botox besides wrinkle control. Injected in the forehead, many people notice a reduction in headaches. In fact, many people who suffer from disabling migraine or muscle tension headaches are relieved and can live a more normal life.

The smile can be altered by placing the Botox in strategic locations around the mouth. One can decrease the excessive gum smile and one can create a more turned up outer lip by precise injections of Botox. In addition, many people who suffer from excessive sweating can be helped with high doses of Botox.

Because Botox must be injected precisely, only a trained medical professional should be performing these injections. At my office, I always perform the injections. The patient thus is assured that the physician performs the procedure. One should be careful if they go to spas and other health centers where a non-physician performs the injections.

At my office, we like to create a fun experience from Botox injections. In addition, to help defray the high costs of Botox, we offer Botox parties to those who have friends who also want Botox. Call our office for details if you’re interested.

To learn more about Botox, you can go to the Botox website, www.botox.com . You can even upload a photo of your face and see how you would look when you are treated with Botox (http://www.botoxcosmetic.com/treatment_visualizer/treatment-visualizer.aspx ). You can also call our office for more information, to book a consultation, or to receive a treatment of Botox.