The chemical name for Botox is ‘botulism toxin’. It is produced by a bacterium called Clostridium Botulinum. It is used in very tiny amounts to paralyse the facial muscles by blocking the signals from the brain that trigger the muscle fibres to contract.
Botox is injected under the skin into the muscle using a very fine needle. It is normally used on the upper part of the face to treat vertical frown lines, horizontal forehead lines and crows feet. By ‘freezing’ these muscles, lines become less noticeable and can even disappear completely. You can expect good results from a single treatment, but the effect is not permanent. Botox will usually last for up to 6 months until a repeat treatment is required in order to maintain the results.
The area to be treated is numbed with a local anaesthetic cream to cause minimal discomfort. Immediately after the injection there may be mild swelling, but this usually subsides within 48 hours. You can return to work and all normal activities straight away. The results will be noticeable after no more than a week.
Studies over the last 15 years have shown Botox to be safe and effective and side effects are rare. In around 1% of patients temporary drooping of the eyebrow may occur, although this should resolve itself within a few weeks. Botox is not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.