Summary: Many people wonder whether Botox is really that good. It’s a legitimate question. After all, Botox is often hailed as a kind of “wonder drug” in a way that simply is too good to be true. Certainly, Botox has some limitations. It might be useful to explore what some of those limitations are.
Is Botox Really That Good at Everything?
We’ve written time and again about how Botox is changing the world, but is Botox really that good? Sometimes, it seems like we’re talking about some miracle drug, sure to perform whatever magic it’s asked to do. Of course, that’s not the reality. There are some areas where Botox lives up to the hype… and some areas where it doesn’t.
In that, it’s like a lot of other procedures in the realm of cosmetic surgery. Patients are eager for solutions to several key problems. And the easier those solutions are to come by, the more enticing they appear. That’s why we need to be careful when we see news stories that talk about “miracle cures” or anything to that effect.
There are some exceptions, of course. Kybella, for example, is an injectable that has made significant impacts in terms of eliminating fat (something that previously would have fallen into the “too good to be true” category). So where does Botox fit on that scale? Is it a miracle cure? Or too good to be true?
What Botox Does Well
Ultimately, that’s not really a fair question. Botox, as with any other treatment, has strengths and weaknesses. There are some things that Botox is good at doing and some things that Botox simply is not designed to do. Let’s take a look at some of what makes Botox successful:
- Eliminate lines and wrinkles: To be sure, Botox cannot eliminate every line and wrinkle. In fact, Botox is specially formulated to target only a specific type of wrinkle. See, some wrinkles in your face form because your muscles get stuck in a “contracted” position. And that’s precisely what Botox can treat. It does this by causing the targeted muscle group to relax, releasing the contraction so the skin can look smoother.
- Treat migraines: I know it might sound a little weird, but Botox has actually been used to successfully treat migraines. Now, it won’t stop a migraine in its tracks, but it can diminish the prevalence of migraines—that is, patients tend to get fewer migraines and of less severity after they’ve been treated with Botox. It doesn’t work for everyone, and that’s kind of to be expected. After all, no one is completely sure what causes migraines in the first place. But some patients can get relief with Botox.
- Treat TMJ: Short for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, TMJ is a condition in which the joints of the jaw become inflamed. This inflammation causes pain, especially in the muscles around the jaw. Botox injections can help with this particular joint dysfunction by helping to eliminate some of the inflammation of the jaw muscles. This can help significantly with pain in the jaw.
What Botox Cannot Do
For all of its varied uses—from wrinkle elimination to treating depression—Botox is primarily employed for cosmetic purposes. Generally, people want to get rid of lines and wrinkles and that’s what this particular injectable is used for. However, there are some things that Botox is not good at. These aren’t necessarily Botox’s fault—they’re just tasks that Botox was never designed to do.
The problem is that Botox gets lumped in with other treatments. Here are some examples of some actions that Botox was simply not designed to successfully take:
- Add Volume: Because Botox is an injectable, it often gets lumped in with other injectables, such as Juvederm or Voluma (which also eliminate wrinkles). But the mechanisms are quite different. Botox gets rid of wrinkles by targeting muscles. Juvederm and Voluma get rid of wrinkles by filling volume in the face. These are two very different mechanisms.
- Last Forever: Believe it or not, there are some injectables that are effectively permanent. Both Kybella and Bellafill are famous for their long lasting results. However, Botox is not designed as a permanent solution. Most results from Botox injections will last somewhere between six and nine months. Again, this isn’t a knock on Botox—simply the way Botox was designed from the beginning.
- Tighten Skin: One of the primary mechanisms of fighting wrinkles is to tighten the skin. When you get a facelift, for example, excess skin is removed and the rest of your tissue is tightened in a way that looks natural. Botox doesn’t necessarily tighten your skin. In fact, there are very few non-surgical ways to accomplish exactly that. Again, that’s not a knock on Botox—just a limitation of its operating mechanism.
There are some other drawbacks to Botox. Too much of Botox can certainly not be a great thing (it can numb your features). Likewise, there’s some evidence to suggest that Botox can actually diminish your ability to detect emotions in others.
Weigh Your Options
When it comes to finding the right cosmetic procedure for you, Botox could definitely be the right way to go. But you have to weigh your options and determine which is going to be the best possible course of action. Botox is certainly not a “wonder drug,” though it will generate fantastic results for those patients who are good candidates.
So, yeah, Botox isn’t a “miracle cure.” But that’s never what Botox set out to be (I recognize I’m giving Botox a little more agency than any inanimate object has). Instead, Botox is designed to treat very specific presentations and treat them well. If you happen to be presenting something that Botox treats—then Botox is a great option for you.
Is Botox really that good? Yes—if you’re trying to treat something Botox is good at treating. Talk to your cosmetic surgeon if you want to see what Botox can do for you.