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Botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin protein made by a bacteria, Clostridium botulinum. Botox® is a name brand formulation of this protein. The protein was approved by the FDA for use by ophthalmologists in treating a twitching of the muscles around the eye, known as blepharospasm. A keen physician noted improvement of wrinkles around the eyes while treating for this condition, and the rest is history.

How does botulinum toxin work?

Botulinum toxin works by temporarily blocking the signals sent via nerves telling your muscles to contract. By temporarily paralyzing certain muscle groups, we also prevent those muscles from forming wrinkles produced with motion (known as dynamic wrinkles). Over time, these areas of active wrinkles will soften and have a more refreshed appearance. By the same mechanism, botulinum toxin can also be used to block the signals to sweat glands and improve other muscle based disorders such as strabismus and cervical dystonia.

What is botulinum toxin used for?

There are many dynamic wrinkle areas that can benefit from botulinum toxin injections. It is commonly used for the wrinkles on the forehead, around the eyes (crow’s feet), glabellar frown lines (number 11 lines between the eyes). It is also effective in treatment of hyperhidrosis, a condition in which one experiences excessive sweating, usually in the armpits, hands, and feet.

In the hands of a skilled injector, Botox treatments can:

  • Provide a mini brow lift. When injected into the muscles of the eyebrows, it elevates the brows to open and accentuate the eyes.
  • Relax and soften vertical and horizontal forehead lines, crow’s feet and frown lines that make you look angry, anxious, fearful or fatigued.
  • Diminish bunny lines, the lines created when you crinkle your nose.
  • Soften nasolabial folds that run from the corner of the nose to the corner of the mouth.
  • Improve facial symmetry.
  • Reduce the appearance of vertical neck bands that appear as we age.
  • Improve your smile! If you show too much of your gums when you smile, which usually results from excessive lip elevation, Botox injections will weaken the upper lip muscles and provide a more balanced smile.
  • Smooth chin dimpling.
  • Reduce the appearance of fine vertical lines around the lips.
  • Lift the corners of your mouth to relax your frown and improve your smile.

How long do injections last?

Effects can begin to be observed within 24-48 hours with full effects obvious within 5-7 days. Effects last about 4-6 months. The results are relaxed and softened wrinkles and lines. However, Botox does not affect wrinkles and line caused by gravity and sun damage.

Repeated Botox treatments every 3-4 months will provide longer term results (5-6 months), reduce the amount of the drug needed to suppress muscle activity, and reduce the frequency of injections to maintain your results. Keeping up with injections on a regular basis trains the muscles to relax and over time these dynamic wrinkles become less severe.

What are the possible side effects?

If side effects do develop, they tend to be mild and temporary. It is the injection itself, rather than the toxin, that produces most mild side effects. After injections, patients may experience swelling, redness, bruising, and soreness. Although botulinum toxin paralyzes muscle movement, the goal is to achieve a restored and natural look. Muscles for facial expression are not intended to be affected. Rarely, neighboring muscles may experience temporary weakness but these effects are not permanent. A small percentage of patients may build resistance to the effects of Botox ®. In that case, there are other similar formulations that can be used, such as Dysport and Xeomin. 

If you would like to enjoy the numerous benefits of Botox ®, please call Dr. Ryan Schuering in Stuart Florida today!

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