Summary: Does Botox paralyze your face, or is that just something you see on television? Well, the answer is a little on the complicated side. Technically, Botox does indeed have some paralyzing power. But it’s usually deployed in very low, very controlled doses. This means that most patients will not have to worry about having their face appear “stony” or unresponsive.

Does Botox Really Paralyze Your Face?

One of the most commonly perceived side effects of Botox is a kind of loss of expression in the face. But does Botox paralyze your face in that way? Or is that just an exaggerated perception you only see in the media? The simple answer is that any kind of facial expression paralysis is exceptionally rare.

That’s because most surgeons know better than to give you too much Botox–and it’s only when you get too much Botox that you can see that kind of stony faced loss of expression.

But the long answer to this question is a little more complicated. Because it really does depend on what you mean by “paralyze.” In essence, that’s how Botox works: by gently paralyzing certain muscle groups so that your face relaxes and the wrinkles diminish. Of course, that’s more complicated too. It should be pointed out that nothing in this article should be construed as medical advice. If you have questions about Botox injections, you should always talk to your surgeon. We’re just here to start a conversation and for entertainment purposes.

Why You Worry About Loss of Expression

Botox is a relatively young cosmetic treatment. So you probably remember the early days of Botox. And during those early days of Botox, it wasn’t all that uncommon to every once in a while see a Botox patient on TV who couldn’t really move their eyebrows all that well. Or who couldn’t smile all that widely when something funny happened.

And that kind of facial problem–the so-called stony face–was sometimes attributed to Botox, especially in the media. But what was actually happening was too much of a good thing. The dosage of the injection may have been slightly high, and that led to a little too much Botox in one place.

These days, cosmetic surgeons and medical spa professionals are extremely careful about how much Botox they’re injecting into any specific area. In other words, the kind of “stony-face” effect you used to see in the very early days of this injectable doesn’t really happen anymore. Most patients who go see a reputable surgeon or medspa will see a diminishing of their wrinkles and retain a complete range of expressions of their face.

How Does Botox Work?

Answering this question completely, however, requires that one understand precisely how Botox works. Because, technically, every time you undergo a Botox injection, the procedure is paralyzing your face just a tiny bit. Because that’s how Botox works, essentially. Or, rather, that’s how your muscles work. Maybe let’s start there.

There are many ways that wrinkles form (and they form for many reasons). Here is just one of those ways:

  • There are some facial expressions you make repeatedly–all the time.
  • As you age, the muscles responsible for creating these expressions get “stuck” in a contracted position.
  • When those muscles get stuck in a contracted position, the wrinkle becomes effectively permanent.

Common examples of these particular sets of wrinkles would be smile lines, frown lines, or concentration lines. The more you frown, essentially, the more likely you are to develop those lines around your mouth (again, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but this is essentially what happens).

How Does Botox Target These Muscles?

Botox, also known under its non-branded name of botulinum toxin a, is what is known as a neuromodulator. That is, the molecules in Botox interfere with a muscle’s ability to receive signals from your brain. In this case, that means that the muscle relaxes. And because the muscle relaxes, the wrinkle is therefore diminished.

That’s why Botox tends to work best at mitigating these particular wrinkles. And that’s why Botox is almost always very calibrated–after all, it only works on certain wrinkle groups and specific kinds of wrinkles.

So if you have questions about Botox–how Botox works, how much Botox you should get and so on–the best place to find answers is from your local cosmetic surgeon or medical spa. And it’s very important to be open and transparent with your Botox providers. You never want to, for example, surreptitiously undergo Botox injections at more than one clinic. Instead, be sure to follow all of your surgeon’s instructions–and you’ll have less to worry about from that “stone-face” result.


About the Author: Dan Voltz has been writing about cosmetic and plastic surgery for over four years. He is constantly in communication with surgeons to ensure his information is as accurate and up to date as possible.

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