Womens Health

Botox (Botulinum Toxin)

The desire to look younger is not unique to our modern-day lifestyle. However, recent technological developments have no doubt made this desire much easier to obtain. Enter botox; after being approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) some 10 years ago for select eye conditions, botox injections are now being used to reverse the signs of aging in women (and men) seeking remedy for wrinkles. In fact, as of 2006, botox is the leading cosmetic surgery performed in the United States, closely followed by the facelift.

But just what is botox, and how does it work? And what are the potential costs, both financially and physically for this cosmetic surgery? We've got the answers, so read on to find out.

What is Botox?

Botox is the brand name for botulinum toxin - the same one that can cause food poisoning when consumed orally. However, when injected in purified, small doses, botox can be very effective in temporarily smoothing wrinkles.

It works by blocking chemical signals that cause muscles to contract. Since the muscles are temporarily paralyzed, the skin flattens and appears smoother. However, this does not mean large areas of the face will become paralyzed; only those select muscles the doctor chooses to target are briefly paralyzed. Usually this will include the "frown" wrinkles located between the eyebrows and the crow's feet beside the eyes. The results are temporary and generally last anywhere between two and five months.

It is important to be aware, however, that not all wrinkles can be reversed through botox injections. For instance, botox is less effective in treating wrinkles caused by sun damage or those found around the mouth. In addition, skin type, thickness, and the depth of the wrinkles all influence the effectiveness of this anti-aging procedure.

What Does A Botox Procedure Involve?

Before undergoing botox injections, you will need to meet with your healthcare professional to discuss all the details of the surgery, as well as your suitability to this proceudre. This meeting will generally involve:

  • A detailed look at your medical history, including any medications and/or health conditions you have had
  • A discussion around your expectations of the surgery and your motivations for having it done, so that your doctor may clear up any uncertainties as well as inform you to the limitations of the procedure
  • A series of photographs of the areas of the face you wish to be treated. These will be used to assess before and after results

The procedure itself involves injecting small amounts of Botox using a fine needle into specific muscles of the face. By targeting only certain muscles, you will be able to retain your natural facial expressions.

Depending on the depth of your wrinkles, several treatments may be necessary. Furrows in the brow may require upwards of eight injections. The procedure does not require the use of an anesthetic and usually only lasts about 10 to 15 minutes. Minor pain may be experienced.

What are the Side Effects of Botox?

When performed by an experienced health care professional, botox is a very safe procedure. However, as with most plastic surgeries, the risk of complications does exist. Possible side effects of botox, include:

  • Droopy eyelids or facial weakening (which can last for several weeks)
  • Pain and bruising at site of injection
  • Redness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Botulism

To limit your risk of complications, be sure to follow these guidelines before and after undergoing botox:

  • Choose a doctor that is board certified in dermatology, ears, nose and throat medicine or plastic surgery
  • Ask about all the potential risks and benefits of the treatment
  • Inspect the medical setting for hygiene and be sure proper emergency equipment is on hand
  • After the surgery, do not drink alcohol or lie down for several hours

Do not use botox if you are pregnant, considering becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding.

What is the Cost of Botox Injections?

On average, injections range from $300 to $500 for each treated area of the face or neck.

To find out more about botox, including possible alternative treatments, check out this article provided by epigee.org.

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