Botox for Beginners: What to Know

Botulinum toxin A is a naturally occurring compound made by bacteria that’s found in the environment. There are several commercially available products on the market, such as Botox, Dysport, Xeomin and Juveau. These products are used for many purposes, including cosmetic (improving wrinkles), migraines and excessive sweating.

Botox is a compound made by bacteria, which is a botulism toxin. Though the concept sounds scary, when used in small doses, the practice is safe. The compound is injected into a specific area and binds to receptors in specific muscles, affecting the nerves within. So as a result, when your nerve releases a chemical to make that particular muscle fire or trigger, it can’t. The function decreases, and the wrinkle that forms when the muscle contracts will diminish, or go away completely. It’s not a static thing, though. Your body regenerates those receptors over time.

Here are seven things to know about botox:

It’s safe, when done correctly. The idea of a needle going toward your forehead, in between your eyes or at your eyebrows might be a little daunting, but rest assured that it’s a very common (and highly-requested) procedure. It’s commonly used for cosmetic reasons, but it also helps alleviate a slew of other health concerns. Botox was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1989 to treat blepharospasm of the eyelid, and it can now treat hundreds of medical conditions, such as hyperhidrosis ( excessive sweating) and chronic migraines. Millions of people have had Botox done safely and effectively. It’s important to remember that Botox is safest when used by a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

The most common places Botox is injected are the crow’s feet around the eye area, glabella creases between the eyes, brow furrows and in horizontal wrinkles on the forehead. The most-surprising area? Into the armpit. When injected into the sweat glands, Botox can completely halt sweat and odor for months. It’s game-changing for some people, and it’s one of the most impactful non-cosmetic treatments for Botox. More than 2 million injections were performed for cosmetic purposes in 2019.

[See: 14 Ways Alcohol Affects the Aging Process.]

There’s no magic age to have it done. Younger patients have been increasingly hopping on the Botox bandwagon as a preventive measure — even before the wrinkles appear or deepen. This is known as “prejuvenation.” That’s why dermatologists can’t recommend the best age to start or try Botox, since it depends on your goals, facial expressions and preferences. If all you see when you look at a photo of yourself is that forehead wrinkle instead of your bright eyes or smile, it might make you happier to get the wrinkle taken care of. Each time we raise our eyebrows, or scowl by bringing our eyebrows together, the wrinkles in these locations get deeper and more numerous. It happens slowly over a long period of time, so you don’t notice it on a daily basis. But if you look at the horizontal wrinkles in your forehead when you aren’t raising your eyebrows, you’ll see an increase in these wrinkles when you do raise your brows. If you then hold that raised brow position for 10 seconds, you’ll notice when you relax, your forehead wrinkles look deeper and more numerous. Botox prevents this from happening. It’s almost never too early to start a good anti-aging regimen.

You won’t look frozen. Some critics say Botox makes you lose all the personality from your face, leaving you with a significantly less range of motion when you laugh, or get angry or upset. While it’s true that your movement will be restricted, a moderate amount of Botox will still allow you to react and communicate in a lively way. Botox relaxes the wrinkle-forming facial muscles at the sight of injection, such as crow’s feet (smile lines around the eyes), glabella (the “furrows” in between the brows) and frontalis (forehead lines). Botox does not affect other facial muscles that are used for overall facial expressions.

[SEE: 4 Diet Changes That Are Better Than Botox.]

It doesn’t eradicate wrinkles. It’s important to set up reasonable expectations for your Botox experience. Botox does not get rid of all wrinkles on your face — it gets rid of wrinkles made from expressions or dynamic wrinkles. It improves the appearance of these wrinkles by relaxing the muscles. It does not get rid of what we call static wrinkles — the ones that are seen at rest when looking in the mirror. If those wrinkles bother you, talk to your dermatologist about the laser treatments that can help smooth them out.

It might feel funny at first. Botox takes three to five days to kick in, with the full effect becoming apparent within two weeks. Some people say they know when it’s taken effect because it suddenly feels stiff. Botox will affect the way your facial muscles move, and it can feel funny when you can’t move your face to make a particular expression.

It’s not just for women. Of all plastic surgeries, Botox is actually quite popular among men. It’s one of the most common procedures that men undergo. It has even spawned the term “Bro-Tox,” as it has surged in popularity among men in recent years.

[RELATED: Anti-Aging Secrets From 7 Centenarians]

It’s not just a one-time thing. Botox lasts on average three months (or more when you first start getting injections), so get ready to go in for maintenance every three to four months. Because it’s only meant to temporarily relax your muscles, it wears off over time, and you’ll notice your wrinkles start to appear again. As skin ages, it loses elasticity and collagen breaks down, so constant muscle and skin contraction can create more permanent creases (wrinkles). Within a few months of injecting the botox, the body makes new acetylcholine receptors, and the nerves are able to once again conduct their impulses. You must use neurotoxins continuously in order to reduce muscle movement and prevent long-term skin creasing.

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Botox for Beginners: What to Know originally appeared on usnews.com

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