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Botox (Botulinum Toxin): What, Treatment, recovery, and side effects

Team AckoDec 13, 2022

There was a time when the word Botox conjured images of movie stars with expressionless faces. However, these days Botox is becoming an increasingly popular procedure to fight ageing in people of all ages. Nowadays, Botox Injections do not result in a mask-like face. Advancements in understanding the dose and injection sites mean that Botox results in a relaxed, natural look on the face. In fact, in several cases, it becomes difficult to identify if anyone has even taken Botox Injections. Before you decide in favour of it or against it, here’s an overview of Botox Injections.

Botox Injections: Treatment, Recovery & Side Effects

Contents

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What is Botox?

Botox is actually the brand name of a very popular drug called onabotulinum A toxin. This toxin is derived from a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. Infections by this bacteria can cause life-threatening infections. However, for these injections, the toxin is extracted and formulated in a way that is safe to use.

Although Botox is the first and most popular brand, there are a lot of other brands that are used commercially. There are also other compounds such as abobotulinumtoxin A, rimabotulinumtoxin B, etc.

What are the uses of Botox?

The most common use of Botox that people are familiar with is as an anti-ageing treatment for wrinkles. Other cosmetic indications for which Botox Injections are effective include the following.

  • Horizontal forehead lines that are seen when you raise your eyebrows

  • Frown lines (these are the vertical lines that appear in between the eyebrows)

  • Crow’s feet ( the wrinkles that appear at the side of the eyes especially when you smile or laugh).

  • Horizontal neck lines

  • Facial asymmetry

There are also a wide variety of indications for Botox Injections in areas other than cosmetic improvement of the face. These include the following.

  • In the treatment of excessive sweating from the armpits or palms and soles

  • Cervical dystonia (a painful condition in which the neck muscles twist and contract into uncomfortable positions)

  • Strabismus or a lazy eye (a condition in which both eyes are looking in different directions)

  • Blepharospasm (a condition in which there is uncontrollable blinking or twitching of the eyes)

  • Chronic migraine

  • Overactive bladder (for patients who are unable to control the urge to urinate)

How do Botox Injections work?

The basic principle of a Botox Injection is that it prevents the contraction of muscles. Muscle contraction requires the release of acetylcholine from nerves to stimulate the muscle. Botulinum toxin enters the nerve cells and blocks the release of this acetylcholine thus effectively paralysing the muscle.

Although an initial effect may be seen within a few days, it takes about one to two weeks for the complete effects to show. These may last for anywhere between two to six months depending on the amount of toxin injected and the size of the muscle. This is why repeated injections are needed to maintain results. 

How are Botox Injections given?

The process of injecting Botox is very simple. Botox Injections are available as powders that have to be reconstituted carefully. Each vial can be refrigerated and kept for up to a month after reconstituting.

For face muscles, about 3 to 10 units are injected at a time and the total rarely exceeds 100 units. Other indications may require higher doses of 300 to 600 units. A very thin needle is used to inject and it is a practically painless procedure and does not require any anaesthesia. 

Injections on the face should only be given by dermatologists or plastic surgeons as they require a good understanding of facial anatomy. 

What are the precautions to take while recovering from Botox injection?

There are some simple steps to be followed before and after the procedure that can ensure you get the best results. These are as follows. 

  • Do not lie down for at least 4 hours after the procedure. It is advisable to sit upright for that much time to prevent bruising.

  • Don’t touch or massage your face after the procedure for at least 24 hours. This is to prevent the toxin from spreading to other areas of the face.

  • Do not indulge in intense workouts for at least 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. The increased blood flow brought on by exercise can result in the spreading of the toxin.

  • Avoid alcohol for at least one day before and after the procedure.

  • If you’re on any blood thinners or painkillers such as aspirin, it is advisable to inform your doctor and stop them before the procedure. Their use can result in bruising at the site of injection.

  • It is also advisable to avoid going out in direct sunlight for a day or two.

If you are going to get Botox done, always remember that no question is silly. Clarify all your doubts with your doctor to make sure that you get the best results without any side effects.

What are the side effects of Botox Injections?

You may have seen photos of people who develop drooping of eyelids or sluggish movements after taking a Botox Injection. This happens if the drug has not been injected correctly or if correct measures are not taken after the procedure. This is why it is important to clarify all your doubts before the procedure and follow instructions exactly.

The most common side effects include the following.

  • Pain and swelling at the site of the injection

  • Bruising 

  • Headache

  • Asymmetry in the face: In case the toxin is injected too close to the eyebrow, it can result in arching or drooping of the eyebrow. 

  • Crooked smile or drooping of one side of the mouth

Toxicity because of Botox is extremely rare. The dose needed for toxicity is about 5 to 10 times higher than the doses used for commercial treatments. Even its spread can result in the following.

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Visual disturbances

  • Difficulty in speaking

  • Loss of bladder control

Does insurance cover Botox Injections?

Generally, Botox given for cosmetic indications or to prevent wrinkles is not covered under insurance. Please check your policy document for details. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here’s a list of common questions and answers related to Botox Injections.

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Can Botox Injections be taken during pregnancy?

Botox Injections are not recommended to be taken during pregnancy or by lactating women.

How long does it take to get Botox Injections?

The actual process of taking Botox Injections only takes a couple of minutes. However, care after the procedure should be exercised for 24 to 48 hours. Failing this, two outcomes are seen commonly. Either the drug spreads to other areas and results in disfigurement or the area can show some local bruising.

What will happen if I do not follow the maintenance schedules for Botox Injections?

Usually, nothing drastic. Your skin will go back to the way it looked before you took the injections. The effect of Botox Injections is that the drug prevents muscles from contracting. Slowly over time, the nerves regain the potential to produce and release acetylcholine. At this time the muscles start contracting like before. Getting regular touch-ups means that you can maintain results with a lower dose of the drug. This is important as the cost of the procedure also depends upon the number of units used.

Does Acko health insurance include Botox Injections?

No, Acko Health Insurance doesn't include this, check our article for more details.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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