What is botulinum (botox) injection?

Jump To

Botulinum toxin (Botox) treatment: Overview

The injection of botulinum toxin, commonly known as Botox, has become very popular for reducing wrinkles and rejuvenating the aging face. The effects are only temporary, but the injections can be done quickly, require no recovery time, and are not as complicated as many other cosmetic procedures for the face.

Botulinum toxin is produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. When a small amount of Botox is injected into a muscle, it blocks nerve signals that tell your muscles to contract. The effect is that it temporarily weakens or paralyzes the facial muscles and smooths or eliminates wrinkles in the skin for a few months.

Getting a Botox injection takes just a few minutes.

Botulinum toxin

Botulinum toxin is a protein produced by a certain type of bacteria (Clostridium botulinum). It is the same toxin that can cause a type of food poisoning (botulism) if a person gets too much in his or her system.

Botox shots may be used to treat a wide range of problems, such as:

  • Removing facial wrinkles.
  • Preventing underarm sweating in people who sweat too much.
  • Relaxing muscles that cause spasms in the eyelids or the esophagus.
  • Treating chronic migraine headaches.
  • Reducing urinary incontinence.

The effect usually wears off within a few months. When Botox is injected in small amounts into muscles, it doesn't get into a person's blood or cause sickness.

How well does botulinum toxin (Botox) treatment work?

Within 72 hours after treatment, the injection of Botox partly or completely smooths wrinkles for most people. But the results are temporary, typically lasting only 3 to 4 months. You will have to return for injections every 3 to 4 months to keep the effect. The dose of Botox usually is the same each time you get an injection.

What are the risks of botulinum toxin (Botox) treatment?

The most common side effects are:

  • Drooping eyelid that may last a short time.
  • Headache.
  • Bruising.

Other side effects include flu-like symptoms, nausea, temporary facial pain, redness at the injection site, reduced blinking, and weakness in the muscles of the face. In extreme cases, this muscle weakness can limit your facial expressions. In rare cases, a sore may develop on the white of the eye (corneal ulceration).

Very serious problems can happen if the botulinum toxin spreads from where it was injected. It may cause dangerous swallowing and breathing problems. These problems can happen hours to weeks after the injection and can cause death. The risk is greatest in children who are being treated for muscle spasticity in their necks. But adults who already have swallowing or breathing problems are also at risk for problems from a Botox injection.

The risks of repeated Botox injections are not known.

What can you expect as you recover from botulinum toxin (Botox) treatment?

For the first 2 to 3 hours after treatment, take it easy and do not rub the treated area. After that, you can return to your regular activities.

It can take 3 to 4 days before you notice an effect from the Botox. The full effect may take up to 1 week. The results may last from 3 to 4 months on average but sometimes up to 6 months. After that, you will begin to see the wrinkles return.

Why is botulinum toxin (Botox) treatment done?

Botulinum toxin has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating frown lines in adults younger than 65. Botox injections also are frequently used to reduce other wrinkles on the face and neck, such as crow's feet, brow furrow, and forehead lines.

Botulinum toxin is also approved by the FDA to treat a wide range of problems, such as chronic migraine headaches, eye muscle disorders, and muscle stiffness.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.