Botox (Botulinum Toxin)

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So, first things first, what is botox? Well, botox, or rather botulinum toxin, is a non-invasive injectable muscle relaxing treatment that is primarily used to soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the face. Botox is actually the trademarked name of the drug produced by manufacturer Allergan, but it has become the term most people use for the injections generally. It works by relaxing the muscles that cause the skin to crease and develop lines or wrinkles.

Botox works by blocking the signal from the nerve to the muscle, which means the nerve cannot tell the muscle to move. As an anti-ageing treatment, botox is injected into specific facial muscles that are used for certain expressions, such as frowning or squinting. The effects lasts 3-6 months, after which your facial expressions will return to normal. Lines and wrinkles on the forehead (frown lines), crows’ feet or laughter lines around the eyes and the creases between the eyebrows (known as glabella lines) are the main concerns that botox is used to treat.

Although it is most commonly used to treat wrinkles, botox can also be used to stop you sweating, to alleviate migraines and tension headaches, and to correct a square jaw or “gummy” smile. It has also been used to treat urinary incontinence and muscular spasms in some patients.

Over the last 15 years, a huge amount of clinical and practical evidence has shown the effectiveness and safety of botulinum toxin. Injecting botox is a quick and simple procedure, and most patients find that botox injections cause little discomfort as the needles are very fine and only a small amount of liquid is injected.

Side effects of botox injections are rare, but can include some temporary bleeding, bruising or mild swelling at the injection site. The worst side effects associated with botox, such as the overly frozen or stunned look, are usually down to too much being injected or the wrong muscle being injected.

Less than 1% of people who have had botox have developed a drooping eyelid (known as partial ptosis) after treatment. This is only temporary and will improve over a few weeks. Some people have also developed a droopy brow because of muscles in their forehead being over relaxed. Again, this is a temporary side effect but if you do experience these after your treatment, you should contact your practitioner.

Botox usually lasts 3-6 months, after which your muscle movement in the treated area will return to normal.

Your first step if you’ve decided to have a botox treatment should be a detailed consultation with a practitioner. Botox is a prescription-only medicine, so you’re consultation will need to be with a doctor, dentist or nurse prescriber.

When you come to have your treatment, the area will be cleaned with an antiseptic, then tiny amounts of the botulinum toxin will be injected into the treatment area. The treatment should usually take no longer than 10-15 minutes.

For your first botox treatment, it is usually recommended to treat just one are so you can become comfortable with the process and the practitioner can see how you respond to your first injections.

Botox results will start to appear anything from two to eight days after the procedure.

Botox treatments are simple, quick and safe, so you can usually resume normal activities immediately after the procedure. Many people have their treatments in their lunch-time and return to work straight afterwards. However, expect to repeat the treatment every 3-6 months to maintain results.

The cost of Botox injections will vary throughout the country, and based on the experience of your practitioner. Expect to pay around £200 for the treatment on one area.

Botox is a prescription-only medicine, which means you’ll need to be assessed by a doctor, dentist or nurse prescriber, who will make sure you’re an appropriate candidate for the treatment and prescribe the treatment. They will usually be the person to perform the injection as well, however legally speaking a non-medically qualified person could administer the treatment as long as they’re in the presence of the prescriber.

Remote prescribing, which is when a doctor or other qualified person issues a prescription for your botox when they haven’t personally seen you, is illegal and doctors have lost their medical licence for it. If a clinic suggests you speak to a doctor on the phone about your botox treatment but never offers you the opportunity to actually see him or her, take that as a warning sign.

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