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What is Botox?

Botox is an injection that temporarily relaxes facial muscles to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as prevent new lines from forming. Common injection sites include the forehead, the area between the eyebrows, the corners of the eyes, and the sides of the chin. Botox can also be used for a wide variety of other conditions, including migrainesexcessive sweating, and psoriasis.

Also known as: Vistabel

Video courtesy of Dr. David Shafer

Is Botox right for me?

Botox might be a good choice for you if:

  • You want a temporary solution to reduce wrinkles with no downtime.
    Botox treatments take less than an hour, have no recovery time, and results typically last 3-4 months.
  • You have wrinkles created by muscle movement in your face, like frown lines.
    Botox won’t help with wrinkles caused by sun damage, so keep wearing your sunscreen.
  • You aren’t scared of needles.
    Most Botox treatments will involve a series of small injections.
  • You aren’t pregnant, breastfeeding, or considering getting pregnant soon.
    If you’re thinking about having a baby soon, hold off on booking your next injection. Doctors don’t recommend Botox for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist in New York, says she also often uses Botox in the masseter muscle, which is used to clench your teeth. Botox injected into this muscle can help with teeth grinding, clenching, and softening the jawline to help your face look thinner and less masculine.

Read Q&As about who’s a Botox candidate

How much does Botox cost?

The cost of Botox is about $500–$600. Your price will depend on the number of areas treated, the injector’s experience, and your location. In different cities, the cost may be higher or lower, but you should expect to pay between $10 and $25 per unit. The number of units you’ll need will depend on how deep your wrinkles are and the size of the area treated.

“The number of units placed in an area can vary,” says Seattle dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Reichel in a RealSelf Q&A about the cost of Botox. “For instance, for the frown lines between the eyebrows, studies show that the right amount for most women is 25 units. However, in my practice, I may put in as few as 10 (young female with a very petite forehead) or as many as 30 (larger forehead, strong frown line).”

To maintain your wrinkle-free forehead, you should expect to repeat your Botox treatment every four to six months.

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Who is qualified to inject Botox?

The rules about who can perform injections vary from state to state in the U.S. In some places only a doctor is allowed, but most states allow other medical professionals to work under their supervision. It’s important to look for a provider who is qualified with proven experience. Providers on RealSelf have been screened to make sure they meet the medical requirements for their practice location.

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When will I see results from Botox?

Initial results from Botox can typically be seen after four to five days. Botox results can improve over two weeks, so it’s important to wait until then before evaluating your results.

Read reviews about Botox results

How long will my Botox results last?

While Botox will temporarily smooth your fine lines and wrinkles, to maintain results most people will need another treatment within three to six months.

“I tell my patients that most people will need to repeat Botox every four to six months,” says Dr. Jennifer Reichel in a Botox Q&A. “Remember, while Botox is working, you are getting ‘wrinkle free time’. So if your botox works for six months, and you only do it once a year, you are still going to have less wrinkles.”

If you decide to stop Botox treatments, the effects will wear off over time and your muscles will go back to normal movements.

Remember, while Botox is working, you are getting ‘wrinkle free time’. So if your botox works for six months, and you only do it once a year, you are still going to have less wrinkles.”

a Seattle dermatologist,
in a Botox Q&A

Read Q&As about Botox results

What are the risks or side effects of Botox?

Botox complications are rare and usually the result of a poor injection or incorrect dosage. If Botox is injected incorrectly, it could unintentionally diffuse into other areas, causing drooping eyelids, a crooked smile, or crooked eyebrows. If too much Botox is injected, you could be left with a frozen look until it wears off. The good news is Botox results are never permanent and will gradually disappear over three to four months.

Read Q&As about Botox risks

Are there effective alternatives to Botox?

Botox is produced by Allergan, but Dysport and Xeomin are also made from Botulinum type A and can give you similar temporary results. Results from Dysport might last as long as a year but are still temporary. Beyond toxins, you might also consider injectable fillers like Juvederm or Restylane to help add volume and “fill in” wrinkles.

Read Q&As about Botox alternatives

Not sure which treatment is right for you? Learn more about treatment options for concerns like:

Crow’s feet

Excessive sweating

Face wrinkles

Forehead wrinkles

Neck bands

Smile lines

Smoker’s lines

Will Botox prevent wrinkles? Does “baby Botox” work?

Maybe you’re not concerned about wrinkles you already have, but you want to delay them from showing up in the first place. For preventative Botox, also known as “baby Botox,” people in their mid-twenties to early thirties are the best candidates.

“It’s reasonable for someone in their 20s to consider Botox for treatment and prevention of future wrinkles,” says Dr. Usha Rajagopal, a San Francisco plastic surgeon, in a RealSelf Q&A. “The product helps minimize the appearance of the current lines as well as weaken the muscles to prevent the production/worsening of wrinkles in the affected area.”

It’s reasonable for someone in their 20s to consider Botox for treatment and prevention of future wrinkles.”

a San Francisco plastic surgeon,

Read Q&As about Botox prevention

What is Botox recovery like?

There’s typically no recovery time for Botox.

Many people find it’s an ideal lunchtime procedure, and they can return to work or their daily routine right away.

“There are certain rules that I tell my patients to follow after Botox injections such as keeping their heads upright for four hours after injections, performing facial exercises after injections to make the product take effect faster, and not massaging the treated area for the first three days to prevent any diffusion of Botox,” says Dr. Green.

When injected properly, Botox recovery side effects are minor. You might have some bruising or redness immediately after your injections, but it should go away within a few hours.

Read Q&As about Botox recovery