Learn about the uses, risks and results of this treatment for facial wrinkles and medical conditions, such as migraine and heavy sweating.
Botox injections are shots that use a toxin to prevent a muscle from moving for a limited time. These shots are often used to smooth wrinkles on the face. They're also used to treat neck spasms, sweating, overactive bladder, lazy eye and other conditions. Botox shots also may help prevent migraine.
The medicine in Botox injections is made from the same toxin that causes a type of food poisoning called botulism. But the forms of purified botulinum toxin used by licensed health care providers meet medical control standards. These standards were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As a rule, the bacteria toxins used for medical purposes are not harmful if used correctly.
Botox shots block certain chemical signals from nerves that cause muscles to contract. The most common use of these injections is to relax the facial muscles that cause frown lines and other facial wrinkles.
Botox injections also are used to ease symptoms of some health conditions. It's not a cure. Examples of medical conditions that might be treated with Botox injections include:
Botox injections are usually safe when you're under the care of a licensed and skilled health care provider. The procedure can result in unwanted results or even cause harm if it's given incorrectly. Possible side effects and unwanted results include:
Rarely, the medicine may spread to parts of the body where it isn't supposed to go. It can cause symptoms there. Call your health care provider right away if you have any of these symptoms hours or weeks after your procedure:
As a rule, health care providers don't recommend Botox if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.
Botox is a prescription medicine and must be used only under the care of a licensed and skilled health care provider. Talk with your health care provider about whether the procedure fits your needs.
To find an expert in Botox injections, ask for a referral from your primary care provider.
Which type of botulinum injection is right for you depends on your needs and condition. Talk with your health care provider about the treatment best suited to you.
Tell your health care provider if you've had any type of Botox injection within the past four months. Also tell your health care provider if you take blood thinners. You may need to stop taking them several days before your injection to reduce the risk of bleeding or bruising. Talk with the health care provider who prescribes these medicines as soon as you can.
Most people don't feel much pain during the procedure. But you may want your skin numbed beforehand, especially if your palms or feet are being treated for heavy sweating. Your health care provider might use one or more of the following methods to numb the area: anesthetic applied to the skin, ice and massage. The massage method also is called vibration anesthesia.
Botox injections are usually performed in a medical office. Your health care provider uses a thin needle to inject tiny amounts of botulinum toxin into your skin or muscles. The number of shots needed depends on the size of the treatment area and other things. Sometimes ultrasound is used to guide the needle to the right spot.
Botulinum toxin is available in two forms:
Do not rub or massage the treated areas for 24 hours. And don't lie down for 2 to 4 hours after getting the shots. Following this advice helps prevent the toxin from spreading to an area where it isn't needed. You'll likely be able to return to your usual activities right after the procedure — check with your health care provider.
Sometimes shots are given just under the skin, which is called an intradermal injection.
Botox injections usually begin working 1 to 3 days after treatment, though it can take a week or more to see full results. Not all people have visible results or relief from symptoms.
Depending on the problem being treated, the effect may last 3 to 4 months. To maintain the effect, you'll likely need regular follow-up injections spaced at least three months apart.