Choosing Botulinum Treatment

Botulinum toxin therapy is one of the most commonly used cosmetic dermatology treatments.

Several forms of botulinum toxin are now available, including Botox®, Dysport® and Xeomin®. Each offer different advantages. Your doctor will recommend a formulation based on several factors.

What happens during treatment?

Your physician will inject very small amounts of purified botulinum toxin. 

When treating fine lines and wrinkles, the botulinum toxin is injected into targeted muscles on the face or neck. This relaxes the targeted muscles, causing fine lines and wrinkles to diminish. The treatments lasts about 3 to 4 months — and sometimes longer. 

When treating excessive sweating, the botulinum toxin is injected directly into the skin on the underarm. A single treatment can provide up to 6 months of relief from excessive sweating.

You can have another treatment when the wrinkles return or sweating becomes excessive again. With repeat treatment for lines and wrinkles, the muscle may thin, leading to longer-lasting results.

Will treatment change my facial expression?

Physicians want their patients to look natural after treatment. To do this, they inject just enough to weaken and relax the targeted muscles without affecting other muscles. This allows patients to maintain their natural facial expressions.

How long is the downtime following treatment?

Most people are able to return to their regular daily activities that same day.

Any steps I should follow after the procedure?

To prevent the injected toxin from spreading to areas where you do not want it, you’ll need to take a few precautions:

  • Do not rub or massage the areas where you received the injections. 
  • If you apply makeup, take care not to press or rub it in.
  • Wait two hours before you engage in strenuous physical activity. This includes lifting heavy items, working out, and any other physical activity that raises your heart rate. 

What are the possible side effects following treatment?

If a patient develops side effects, these tend to be mild and temporary. The injections, rather than the botulinum toxin itself, cause most mild side effects. For example, a patient may occasionally bruise. If this happens, the bruising lasts about 1 week.

After receiving injections, people have experienced:

  • Swelling.
  • Redness.
  • Soreness.
  • Bruising.
  • Mild headache (uncommon).
  • Weakness in a neighboring muscle, leading to a temporarily droopy brow or eyelid (rare).
  • Signs and symptoms of botulism, including problems breathing, swallowing, or speaking (very rare).

What is the safety record for this procedure?

More than 20 years ago, a dermatologist and his wife, an ophthalmologist, began using botulinum toxin therapy to treat signs of aging. Today, medical professionals inject millions of patients each year.

When used by a dermatologist to treat signs of aging or excessive sweating, no serious side effects like problems breathing or swallowing have ever been reported.

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Last updated: 5/13/2022