What Is Botox, Anyway?
There’s no doubt about it: When performed poorly, Botox can have some unfortunate results. There’s all sorts of photos, stories, and videos on the Internet about people who’ve had too much of it or who are addicted to the procedure. Dr. Brandith Irwin explains (read more here) what bad Botox looks like: “Ugly Botox is all too common. You’ve seen it on television: it’s that completely unnatural frozen look, or worse, where the poor person almost looks like she’s had a stroke, one side of her face completely different than the other. The point is, Botox is not a cookie-cutter procedure.”
In reality, Botox shouldn’t make you look as if you’re frozen in time or that your skin is somehow unnatural, and it shouldn’t be a dramatic and stressful procedure. Rather, as the Carillon Clinic (experts in Botox in Minneapolis) explains, “among the many wonderful things about Botox Cosmetic is its basic simplicity. There’s no surgery, no recovery time, just a quick ten-minute procedure…[it is important that Botox is administered by an expert] because botched Botox can result in sub-par results– in many cases, this means that notorious, frozen-looking “Botox face.”
In reality, Botox is remarkably simple. The drug is made from a bacterium called Clostridium botulinium, called botulinum toxin. The toxin (which is not as scary as it sounds!) is injected into humans in small concentrations. When it’s injected, it prevents signals from the nerve cells reaching muscles, essentially leaving the muscles paralyzed because they no longer have the signal to contract. The drug isn’t only used for correcting wrinkles, but also can be used for eyelid spasms, chronic migraines, crossed eyes, overactive bladders, and other medical conditions.
Maybe it’s because of the poorly performed Botox treatments resulting in “frozen face,” or maybe it’s just the nature of the drug itself: Either way, there are many misconceptions about this (in fact) rather common, simple, and popularly performed procedure.
Dispelling the Botox Myths
Today, we’re going to set the record straight. Next time you hear one of these popularly spouted myths about Botox, be sure to think critically about whether or not the misconception is, in fact, reality, before passing judgment on what can be an extraordinarily useful procedure.
- Botox Will Make My Face Freeze: No, getting Botox does not mean that you’ll have no expression and will be unable to express your emotions. As Richard J. Brown, MD explains, “when performed by a trained professional, Botox should have absolutely no effect on your face’s expressiveness. A “frozen” face only occurs when too many of the wrong muscles are injected, paralyzing those expressive muscles for a few months.” The key here is to ensure that you’re undergoing treatment at a certified medical facility, not at a spa or anywhere without credentials.
- It’s Better to Just Get Permanent Fillers: It’s true that Botox is not, in fact, permanent. People who use Botox typically return every four to six months for new injections, because the toxin wears off and the muscle contractions will gradually begin again. However, this does not mean that permanent fillers are a better option. Dr. Scott Guenthner notes that “the very temporary nature of Botox means that it is safer than permanent filler, and it puts you more in charge of your treatments.” Permanent fillers may indeed be the better option for some patients, depending on the desired result, but this should be carefully discussed with your plastic surgeon before choosing which is right for you.
- Botox is Dangerous: Okay, so the word toxin can sound a little scary to some people, but it’s important to understand that many, many medications are crafted from toxins, including, as Spiegel notes, those used to treat heart attacks: “The botulinum toxin in Botox® is actually a diluted form that has been proven safe and effective to use. It has also been approved by the FDA to treat wrinkles in the forehead, in addition to a number of other medical conditions.” The FDA does not approve medications or drugs that cannot be safely used by humans, so we can very securely assume that Botox is not dangerous. However, as with any drug, it’s good to research it as much as possible and be aware of any side effects or risks associated with it before undergoing surgery.
These are just a few of the misconceptions swirling around Botox, but there are many, many more. Before being swayed by rumors and half-truths, discuss Botox with your surgeon to see if it’s right for you!
If you have any further questions about Botox or need help finding a surgeon to perform the procedure, leave a comment in the section below, anytime! We’d be more than happy to help guide you in the right direction.