Despite conflicting opinions, Botox and cosmetic injectables are by no means on their way out.
Whether we want to embrace our natural beauty or not, we shouldn’t be embarrassed about our wrinkles and fine lines. And nor should we be embarrassed to go under the needle. Botox use is up to the individual.
That being said, there are undoubtedly a lot of questions you might have before you undergo the procedure.
We spoke to Alice Henshaw, nurse prescriber and owner of Harley Street Injectables, about how to avoid looking permanently surprised, who you can trust with your face, the risks, and how to tell if it’s right for you.
What is Botox?
In short, Botox is just a brand name. ‘Botox is a brand of Botulinum Toxin type A,’ Alice tells MailOnline. ‘It was the first brand to be used for cosmetic purposes which is why so many people refer to the treatment as “Botox” when in fact a lot of clinics may not even use Botox.
‘Other products now include Dysport, Myoblock and Xeomin. Each is a little different, particularly when it comes to dosage units, so they aren’t interchangeable.
‘Botox injections are used to temporarily prevent a muscle from moving. This toxin is produced by the microbe that causes botulism, a type of food poisoning.’
Botox injections: When the muscles stop moving, the wrinkles stop forming
What is Botox used for?
‘Botox is a muscle relaxant and is used to prevent wrinkles. You have two types of wrinkles: dynamic (expression) wrinkles and static (permanent) wrinkles,’ explains Alice.
These dynamic wrinkles will eventually become static; this is why many use Botox as a preventative.
She adds: ‘Botox is also used to treat conditions such as neck spasms (cervical dystonia), excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), jaw slimming and teeth grinding (bruxism). Botox injections may also help prevent chronic migraines.’
How does Botox work?
Alice says: ‘Botox injections block certain chemical signals from nerves, mostly signals that cause muscles to contract.
‘The most common use of these injections is to temporarily relax the facial muscles that cause wrinkles in frown the forehead and crows feet.’
At what age should I start Botox?
There’s no right or wrong age to get Botox; it’s a decision that’s ultimately up to you.
Alice says that ‘people often don’t realise Botox is a preventative, not a cure’.
She adds: ‘As we age, the movement of the muscles under the surface of the skin becomes less dynamic and more static – the fine line and wrinkles become more continuously present and not just during movement.
‘When used on small muscles in the upper face, it can help smooth out these fine lines and essentially prevents them from becoming permanent static wrinkles on our face.
‘Botox will not reverse permanent lines which is why people get Botox before these lines become static.’
Botox injections are not designed to erase facial expressions, but instead it softens lines of excessive facial expression
Is there any downtime?
‘There is little downtime following a Botox treatment, and any signs of administration will have disappeared by the time a patient leaves the clinic,’ Alice says.
‘Very rarely, a client may experience minor swelling or bruising. However, it is so minor most people would not notice it.’
She adds: ‘A lot of my clients will pop into the clinic on their lunch break and happily return to work.’
Botox results will not appear instantly. In fact, Alice says that ‘the full results of the treatments will then be seen at two weeks’.
Should I avoid doing anything afterwards?
There is a lot of aftercare advice on the internet, but Alice recommends the points below. This will allow the Botox to work optimally in the target muscle as you do not want to spread the toxin to other muscles or weaken the injection.
- No makeup for at least four hours
- Do not rub the injection site
- Do not exercise for 24 hours
- Don’t lie down for four to six hours
- No facials in the areas you get Botox done for two weeks
How much does Botox cost?
‘At Harley Street Injectables, we charge per area,’ Alice says. ‘For example, Botox for the upper face starts at £200 for one area and £350 for three areas (frown, forehead and crows feet).
‘Botox the brand is much more expensive than other toxins such as Dysport, Xeomin or Azzalure, which is where you will see price discrepancies amongst clinics.’
She advises: ‘Always ask to see the packaging to make sure you are getting the brand you are paying for.’
Nurse Alice Henshaw recommends that you do your research before going under the needle
How long does Botox last?
‘Botox lasts three to four months in the upper third of the face and for Bruxism or Hyperhydrosis anywhere between four to eight months.’
Why do you think there’s so much stigma attached to Botox?
Over the last few years we’ve seen the rise of more tailored, natural-looking results, but Alice says ‘we’ve all seen those post-Botox pictures of people with a frozen appearance or “Spock brow” appearance’.
She explains: ‘An experienced medical nurse prescriber or doctor will give subtle results which soften the signs of ageing without appearing obvious or eliminating facial expressions.
‘My motto is always fresh, not frozen!’
Are Botox injections safe for your face?
Alice stresses how important it is to do your research and understand what’s being injected into your face before going under the needle.
‘There is some misunderstanding around the safety of the Botulinum toxin when the treatment first launched,’ she says.
‘Potentially serious life-threatening symptoms would require 3000units administered into one person when typically you would only administer 30-50 units per treatment. Botox used in the correct hands is safe and has full FDA approval.
‘The treatment is only as effective or successful as the skill of the person administering it. Always get a medical professional to inject Botox whether that is a nurse prescriber, dentist or doctor.’
What happens if I stop my top-ups?
‘Botox injections usually begin working one to three days after treatment,’ says Alice. ‘Depending on the problem being treated, the effect may last three months or longer.’
But to maintain the effect and prevent wrinkles, you’ll need regular follow-up injections. Alice adds: ‘If you stop using Botox, your muscle movement will go back to how it was and if anything you have “prevented” wrinkles in the area for the three to four months you had the injections.’
Are there any side effects of Botox?
Possible side effects and complications include:
- Pain, swelling or bruising at the injection site
More uncommon side effects that rarely occur are:
- Headache or flu-like symptoms
- Droopy eyelid or cockeyed eyebrows
- Crooked smile
- Eye dryness or excessive tearing