Botox: Is this wrinkle treatment for you?

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Botox: Is this wrinkle treatment for you?

Botox injections — Overview covers benefits, side effects and limitations of this popular wrinkle treatment.

Time has etched lines in your skin. Some days you tell yourself your face has character. Other days, it seems more like aging.

If you're thinking of smoothing out those frown lines or crow's-feet, you've probably considered Botox — an increasingly popular nonsurgical treatment for facial wrinkles. Botox injections temporarily relax the facial muscles around wrinkles, making them appear less noticeable. But not all facial wrinkles benefit from Botox injections.

Who is Botox for?

Botox is for people who want to minimize the appearance of wrinkles. Treatment areas may include:

  • Frown lines between the eyebrows and on the bridge of the nose
  • Crow's-feet at the corners of the eyes
  • Forehead creases
  • Thick bands on the neck

Not all facial wrinkles benefit from Botox injections, however. Botox won't reverse wrinkling caused by sun damage. Also, it's less effective treating the lines around your mouth because muscles in this area are needed for eating and talking. Your skin type, skin thickness and degree of wrinkling all play a role in determining whether these injections are effective for you.

Besides a wrinkle treatment, Botox is also used to treat several health conditions, including headaches, backaches, eye muscle problems, muscle spasms and excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis). Also, researchers have found that treating facial scars early on with Botox may improve the appearance of scars long-term. This use for Botox is experimental, however, and hasn't been approved by the FDA.

How do you prepare?

Before scheduling Botox injections for wrinkles, you need to meet with your doctor to discuss the factors that determine whether the procedure is likely to work well for you. This meeting generally includes:

  • Your medical history. Your doctor asks questions about conditions you have or have had, as well as any medications you're taking.
  • Photographs. Someone from your doctor's office takes photographs of your face from different angles. Your doctor uses these photos for before-and-after assessments and long-term reviews.
  • A discussion of your expectations. You and your doctor talk about your motivations and expectations. He or she explains what Botox can and can't do for you and what your results might be.

What can you expect after the procedure?

Botox injections require no downtime; you can resume your normal daily activities immediately. You may have headaches for a few hours after the treatment. Take care, though, not to rub or massage the treated areas. This can cause the toxin to migrate to a different area of your face. If this happens, temporary facial weakness or drooping is possible.

You'll notice results within a few days, but the full effect takes about two weeks. Results aren't permanent, however. Once the Botox has taken effect, it takes three to six months for the affected muscles to begin functioning again. So to maintain your look, you need follow-up injections every few months.

Last Updated: 02/13/2008
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