Botox®, and the new products Dysport® and Xeomin®, are used to reduce facial wrinkles. They work by blocking a part of the nerve ending that causes muscles to contract, reducing the appearance of dynamic wrinkles. Dynamic wrinkles are those that you see when you squint your eyes and furrow your brow, but relax away when your face is relaxed. Over time, dynamic wrinkles lead to the formation of static wrinkles, which are present whether you are flexing the facial muscles or not. Static wrinkles do not completely disappear with relaxation and are usually treated with facial fillers, dermabrasion, or other more invasive treatments or surgeries.
How are cosmetic neurotoxins given?
They are administered as an injection under the skin with a very fine needle (31 gauge). There is generally little or no discomfort with the injection. Dr. Harris will have you make different facial expressions to locate the different facial muscle group he will target with the injection. This will ensure that the right muscles are relaxed, giving you an even appearance.
How do Botox and similar medicines work?
Botulinum toxin works by blocking the release of acetylcholine from the junction between nerves and muscles. Normally, when a nerve is sending a message to a muscle to contract, part of that message is relayed by acetylcholine. Botox penetrates the end of nerve and blocks the release of acetylcholine so messages from the nerve to the muscle can’t go through. These blocked nerve endings are eventually replaced by new nerve endings, which takes 3-6 months. For this reason, Botox treatments aren’t permanent, but eventually wear off.
Are there any side effects?
These medications have the potential to cause an eyelid or brow to droop, although this is uncommon and will reverse itself in a few weeks. If you are allergic to eggs or albumin, you should avoid these medications. There are rare reports of breathing problems after large doses of Botox in neck muscles, but this would be very unusual at the low doses used for facial rejuvenation. You cannot receive either medication if you are pregnant or nursing as their effects on babies have not been studied.
How long will it last?
This varies from patient to patient, but 3-6 months of effect is common in our practice. The medications, after injection, take effect after 3-7 days.