Botox is a minimally invasive treatment that uses neurotoxins to reduce or completely eliminate the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines on the face. Here at Prizant Dermatology in Pittsburgh, PA, we’ve been providing this therapy to our patients to revitalize specific areas of the face with great results.
Considered to be extremely safe in FDA-approved cosmetic applications, this treatment is not only useful as a corrective solution but also as a preventative measure to stop the development of wrinkles before they appear. So if you’re considering Botox for the first time, here’s how it works and what you can expect after your first treatment session.
How Does Botox Work?
Botox is a lab-made protein that belongs to a class of neurotoxins known as Botulinum toxins. It relaxes or paralyzes muscles by blocking the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which plays a role in nerve signaling processes and muscle contractions. When acetylcholine is blocked, the muscles of the face that contribute to fine lines and wrinkles become less active.
Many factors can affect how our skin looks, and collagen production is one of the key factors. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, and this can make our skin appear looser as it loses its elasticity. This, along with regular muscle contractions in the face, can lead to the appearance of wrinkles. In addition to paralyzing muscles, this treatment has been shown to stimulate collagen production, so it treats the source of the problem in multiple ways.
What Is the Best Age for Getting Botox?
Because this therapy can be used for both preventive and corrective purposes, the best age for treatment will vary based on your needs and expectations.
Since everybody has different skin types, genetics, and different circumstances in life, some may develop wrinkles in their face long before others, and stress is another factor that can play a major role in this, as it can accelerate the signs of aging. Corrective treatment to lessen or eliminate the appearance of wrinkles or lines can therefore take place at virtually any age once a person has reached their 30s and starts to notice a change in their appearance.
Although many of our patients prefer to wait until fine lines and wrinkles appear so they can selectively choose which areas they’d like treated, others prefer to start treatment in their late 20s or early 30s before wrinkles and other tell-tale signs of older age begin. The early 30s is generally considered to be an ideal age for treatment, but preventative measures can start at any point for those 18 years of age and older.
What Happens During Treatment?
During treatment, we will identify the muscles that are associated with any wrinkles and lines and will then inject a specific amount of this Botox into these muscles. This medication comes in different dosages known as units. How many units you may need depends on many factors, with a typical dose ranging anywhere between 10 and 50 units.
We will normally start your therapy with a more conservative amount to see how well the muscles respond to it before deciding to increase the amount. While neurotoxins can be dangerous in large amounts, it’s considered to be extremely safe when used in small doses and the FDA has approved its use for many different cosmetic conditions.
How Quickly Does It Work?
While the treatment session itself normally takes less than 10 minutes, this can vary, and results typically take much longer to appear. You may notice results within 24 hours, though most of our patients don’t see full results for at least one to two weeks.
Because these neurotoxins block the production of acetylcholine, any acetylcholine that existed before treatment will still be circulating in the body, so it will take some time for the body to fully deplete this. After this happens, the effects of the medication normally become more obvious with greater effectiveness. If you’ve had long-standing stress that contributed to your wrinkles, you may notice much less tension in the treated areas as the muscles begin to relax.
What Areas Can Be Treated?
Regardless of whether you already have wrinkles or are seeking treatment to help prevent them from appearing, the following are some of the most frequently treated areas of the face:
The forehead is one of the most common areas of the face where lines appear, so it’s one of the more popular areas people prefer to have treated. The horizontal lines that often develop across the forehead are called glabellar lines, and while they may be noticed early on with certain facial expressions, they can become much more noticeable in older age as the skin becomes less elastic.
A muscle in the forehead, the frontalis muscle, can be treated with these neurotoxins to help diminish the appearance of associated lines and wrinkles. The forehead is also one of the key areas that patients choose to have treated when taking a more preventative approach, as most people in their 20s have prominent wrinkles temporarily appearing here when scrunching the face.
Above the Nose
Frown lines are the vertical lines that occur in the center of your face between both eyebrows. These lines are sometimes referred to as worry lines because they can make it look like a person is worrying and also because facial expressions associated with stress and anxiety can make these lines more prominent over time.
Next to the Eyes
Crow’s feet are the deep lines that extend outwards from both eyes. They are a very common feature for those who regularly laugh and smile because smiling contracts the orbicularis oculi, a muscle that surrounds your eyes. Because this muscle tightens nearby areas when it contracts, areas of nearby skin become tightened and crow’s feet eventually develop. Botox is frequently used to treat this condition and can produce excellent results in many cases, even when the lines are very deep.
While stress lines, crow’s feet, and worry lines are the most commonly treated issues, this therapy has a wide array of uses for other conditions and areas of the body. During your initial consultation with us, we can assess your needs to determine if this therapy is right for you before moving forward with any treatment.
How Long Do Results Last?
How long the effects of each treatment last can vary from person to person and can be anywhere between three months to a year. A variety of different factors can affect this, including your age, diet, metabolism, physical activity, and how many units you are treated with. Because Botox is metabolized from the body, how long it lasts can differ between patients, but in general, you can expect the results to last at least three months.
High stress levels can weaken the effectiveness of Botox for many reasons. Stress can deplete collagen in the body, which can speed up the signs of aging, cause your skin to loosen, and make lines and wrinkles more prominent. Stress can also interfere with your body’s metabolism, which can lead to a quicker breakdown of the medicine, and it can increase muscle tone as well, which can make it harder for the injected neurotoxins to do their job.
How Often Can You Get It?
After your initial treatment, you shouldn’t need another one for at least 12 weeks, though some people may not need another for even longer periods. How often you return for additional treatments is your choice, though a frequency of every four months is ideal in most cases. However, there are many patients who continue to see results far beyond four months, and this can occur for many reasons.
After your facial muscles have been relaxed for long periods of time, they may then become better at remaining in this relaxed state throughout the day, which means you may not need repeat injections as frequently as somebody who is just starting with their first few treatments. For this reason, some of our patients return every six months or so instead of every four months. Others prefer to proactively schedule appointments every three to four months.
Book Your Consultation Today
With its ability to both correct and prevent the obvious signs of aging, Botox offers a safe and minimally invasive solution for reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Contact us today at Prizant Dermatology in Pittsburgh, PA to schedule a consultation so we can discuss your cosmetic goals and all the options we have available for you.