Botox Cosmetic is used for the temporary smoothing of wrinkles, which are the lines between your eyebrows that can make you look tired, unhappy or angry. It is FDA-approved for this use and in this area only. However, it is often used off-label for horizontal forehead lines, crow’s feet, marionette lines at the corners of the mouth and smoker’s lines around the lips.
Don’t confuse Botox Cosmetic with injectable fillers. Dermal fillers work differently, plumping up tissues so that lines and wrinkles diminish or disappear (Restylane, Radiesse and Juvederm are examples).
Your practitioner can help you decide which product(s) will solve your particular appearance issues, though as a general rule, Botox is used mostly in the upper portion of the face, and fillers are used mostly in other areas.
How Botox Injections Work
A wrinkle in the skin is typically formed perpendicular to a contracting muscle located directly beneath it. For example, the muscle in the forehead is a vertical muscle, and when it contracts (such as when you raise your eyebrows), the lines that form (wrinkles) will be horizontal.
Likewise, the two muscles that are responsible for the frown lines are positioned slightly horizontally between the eyebrows, so when they contract, the frown lines appear vertical.
Botox Cosmetic is injected into muscles, where it blocks nerve impulses to those tissues. The muscle activity that causes the frown lines is reduced, and a smoother look results. Without a contracting muscle beneath it, the skin has a difficult time wrinkling.
Facial lines that exist when your face is totally relaxed are not very good candidates for Botox. These lines are better handled by the dermal fillers. Botox can frequently “soften” these lines but not always get rid of them.
The injections take about 10 minutes, and you should have no downtime afterward.
Normally you would see improvement within a few days. Botox requires two to four days for it to attach to the nerve ending that would normally stimulate the muscle to contract. The maximum effect usually occurs at about 10-14 days. Therefore, whatever effect is obtained two weeks after the injections should be considered the maximum effect that is going to occur.
The cost of Botox Cosmetic injections varies from one place to another and from one practitioner to another, so you’ll need to ask your practitioner what he or she charges.
Some practitioners charge by the number of units injected. One vial of Botox Cosmetic contains 100 units. Advertised specials of $6-$7 per unit are not uncommon, while some practitioners may charge up to $10-$12 per unit.
Some practices charge by the “zone.” For example, the frown lines would be one zone, the crow’s feet another zone and the forehead yet another zone.
Prices per zone may vary between $250 and $350, depending on the practitioner and/or the region of the country.