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Botox is a type of toxin produced by a strain of bacteria that was initially isolated in contaminated meat. Today, Botox serves a number of medical and therapeutic purposes, including treatment of cerebral palsy and other neurological problems. However the most well-known use for Botox in present times is to minimize the appearance of aging in the skin, especially in the face.

The effect of Botox on wrinkles and fine lines was first discovered when it was used by ophthalmologists, who would inject Botox into the muscles around the eyes of patients suffering from facial spasms. While the administration of Botox was initially intended to address the spasms, doctors noticed that patients also experienced improvement of facial wrinkles.

How are Botox treatments performed?

Botox is now used to treat wrinkles and lines in the forehead, between and around the eyes, and around the mouth. Treatment with Botox is very effective; it usually takes less than ten minutes for the entire procedure, and Botox injections can be administered in a clinic or plastic surgeon's office. The full results of a Botox treatment are visible within days, and the effects usually last approximately three to four months. Most people opt for follow up treatments, with additional injections after four or five months.

Ten days prior to receiving an injection of Botox, patients should cease taking medications that can increase possible bruising, including:

  • daily vitamin E
  • daily multivitamins
  • St. John's Wort
  • anti-inflammatory medications

Botox injections are administered with a fine needle directly into the muscle tissue, and are generally not considered painful, but patients receiving Botox may take an approved pain medication approximately half an hour before treatment.

The popularity of Botox is based on its effectiveness in treating the appearance of facial wrinkles and lines, coupled with the convenience of treatment. Botox allows anyone to achieve a more youthful, rejuvenated look in a matter of minutes, without surgery or extended recovery times.

The benefits of a Botox treatment

Botox treatments rely on the use of a purified toxin to temporarily paralyze the small muscles that cause the wrinkles in the first place. A few days after Botox treatments, patients will notice the full effect of the procedures, results that last four months or longer, depending upon the individual and the location of the treatment.

In order to maximize results and quicken recovery time after Botox treatments, patients should keep their head elevated for approximately 4-6 hours after treatment. Individuals receiving Botox treatments should also avoid any heavy exercise, lifting, or physical activity for at least 4-6 hours. The effectiveness of Botox treatments is enhanced by frequent stimulation of the treated muscle, and patients are urged to perform these small exercises.

One of the most appealing aspects of Botox therapy is the speed of treatment and recovery: most patients complete their Botox therapy in ten minutes or less, in the comfort of their doctor's office, and are immediately able to return to their regular activities.

Individuals suffering from migraines may receive anywhere from ten to twenty-five Botox injections to the head, neck and shoulder areas to alleviate pain. The cause of headache relief is not completely understood by researchers yet, though scientists speculate that Botox stops the proteins involved in pain transmission to the brain.

Patients looking to restore the youthful appearance of their skin often get Botox injections, which help relax and loosen the muscles beneath the skin. As a result, wrinkles often smooth out and become less obvious.

Research is showing that Botox injections are effective in treating those with cerebral palsy. The toxin is injected into different parts of the body to paralyze spastic muscles and helps relieve muscle spasms.

Botox treatment risks and side effects

The potential side effects are few and usually short-lived. They include:

  • local numbness
  • swelling
  • bruising
  • burning sensation
  • temporary headache and nausea
Many of these side effects are minimized or eliminated through the use of proper injection techniques, and patients may take a pain medication thirty minutes prior to Botox treatments in order to minimize any discomfort.

Botox works by temporarily paralyzing the muscles at the site of injection. In rare cases, this effect may spread to other muscles near the intended area. This can cause temporary paralysis in neighboring muscles, which may lead to eyelid droop or other facial paralysis. This side effect occurs in less than 1 percent of Botox patients. However, because Botox only stays in the body for a maximum of six months, any side effects associated with the injection will diminish after that time period.

Botox side effects can also occur when the drug interacts with other medications. Before receiving Botox injections, a prospective patient should inform a doctor about any medications she may be taking. Medications that may be dangerous if mixed with Botox include: antibiotics used to treat infections, such as gentamicin, tobramycin, clindamycin and lincomycin; medications used to treat heart rhythm problems, such as quinidine; and medications used to treat other conditions, such as myasthenia gravis, ALS or Alzheimer's disease.

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery maintains that Botox injections for aesthetic purposes are safe and effective. Patients who show early signs of aging, who may not be qualified for more extensive procedures, or who prefer not to undergo surgery are all good candidates for Botox injections. Patients who are currently pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid treatment.

Costs associated with Botox treatment

Botox costs are generally not covered by health insurance because this appearance-enhancing procedure is considered elective, or not necessary to preserve physical health. For a manufacturer the cost of making a vial of Botox costs about forty dollars. This price is usually significantly increased when sold to doctors. For medical professionals, a vial of Botox costs about four hundred dollars or more. Botox costs are then increased again when the actual procedure is performed on a patient.

There is a range of consumer level Botox costs that depend on the plastic surgeon who is providing this non-invasive cosmetic procedure. A doctor will normally use one vial of Botox to treat three or four patients. Botox costs vary from two hundred dollars an injection all the way up to close to one thousand dollars per injection. 

When considering Botox costs, it is important to take into consideration that a doctor may recommend that a patient would best benefit from Botox injections in more than one area of the face or neck. This may significantly increase Botox costs.


Doctors performing Botox

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