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How Botox Works

Botox, the most common non-surgical cosmetic procedure performed in the United States.

It is easily injected into the muscle, decreasing the appearance of wrinkles and creases with little more than a stinging sensation. Dr. Alan Greenberg at North Texas Cosmetic Surgery can discuss the benefits of Botox during your initial consultation.

How Botox Works

Botox is the neurotoxic protein botulinum toxin type A produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. While in large doses botulinum toxin produces botulism, a Botox injection is not an injection of botulism. In fact, the procedure uses only a small amount of diluted botulinum toxin.

Botox softens wrinkles like laugh lines and crow’s feet by blocking the transmission of nerve impulses to the injected muscles, causing the affected area to relax. Medically, this process is called selective muscle denervation.

Wrinkles and lines are caused when the muscle contracts, like when smiling or furrowing the brow. The nerve sends a signal to the muscle that results in the release of the chemical acetylcholine. When acetylcholine bonds with the muscle, it creates a series of chemical reactions and the muscle contracts.

An injection of Botox blocks the acetylcholine receptors, so when the nerve sends a signal to the muscle to contract, the acetylcholine is released, but it can no longer bind to the muscle. The muscle never receives the signal to contract. Essentially, the muscle is paralyzed, but not because it or the nerve have been damaged.

Botox Softens Wrinkles and Lines

The effects of Botox are most noticeable in wrinkles that are only present when the muscle contracts. Botox may also work on permanent creases, although not as dramatically. Instead, a Botox injection may help soften them. In your consultation with Dr. Greenberg, he will discuss benefits specific to you.

Once acetylcholine is blocked, it’s not reversible. The effects begin almost immediately. Gradually over three to five months, the muscles will develop new receptors and will be able to contract again. Patients can seek retreatment at that time, and in some cases, may find that when lines and wrinkles do reappear, they return less severe.

How is Botox administered?

Dr. Greenberg will use an aesthetic cream to numb the treatment area. Then, he will make several tiny Botox injections into the specific muscles. The entire process takes about 30 minutes. Unwanted wrinkles and lines will start to disappear almost immediately.

The most common side effect of Botox injections is temporary bruising. Other possible side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Respiratory infection
  • Flu syndrome
  • Blepharoptosis (drooping of the upper eyelid)
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion (heartburn)