Botox works by stopping the muscle that it’s injected into from contracting, so it appears relaxed and smooth. Botox is effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles and preventing new wrinkles from forming. This treatment may be considered expensive, however. Prices vary by provider and state, but you can expect to pay $100 to upwards of $500 per treatment depending on the areas you treat. Tempted to try it? We’ve got the answers to all your Botox questions.
Will my expression look frozen?
When Botox was first introduced, it wasn’t uncommon to spot celebrities with perma-smiles and immobile foreheads because of the injectable’s muscle-relaxing effects. But doctors are now more experienced with strategically placing Botox to achieve natural-looking results.
“The extent of [the muscle] relaxation depends on the amount of Botox injected and where it’s placed. It’s more attractive to keep some natural movement so you look refreshed, not fake,” says Jessica Wu, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California medical school and Daily Glow’s dermatology expert.
Today, Botox has a couple of competitors. Dysport is another formulation of botulinum toxin on the market, and Xeomin is a third rendition, just approved by the FDA. “Talk to your doctor to see which might work best for you,” advises Dr. Wu.
How much does it hurt?
Botox is injected by a needle, so you’ll most likely feel pinpricks at the injection sites. “Patients compare it to getting tweezed,” Wu says. If you’re especially sensitive, ask your doctor to use numbing cream or ice to reduce the discomfort.
When should I start Botox?
You can begin using Botox at any age, though many experts agree that after 30 is best. “Earlier is okay, though, if you have deep forehead lines, or the deep “11” sign between the brows,” says David Colbert, MD, founder of the New York Dermatology Group.
Is Botox a filler?
No — Botox relaxes the muscle contractions that cause wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid fillers, like Restylane and Juvéderm, add volume. Says Wu, “Fillers plump lips, fill in acne scars, and fill up sagging wrinkles like the ones that go from the nose to the corners of your mouth.”
Does Botox relieve headaches?
Yep. It is proven to do so when injected into certain areas. “But, paradoxically, I have a number of patients who get headaches the first time they try Botox,” says Whitney Bowe, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. If pain strikes the same day, it’s “usually related to the stress of getting the injections, as there’s always a bit of anxiety for first-timers, and this can trigger a tension headache,” she says. Delayed headaches—those coming on seven to 14 days post-shot—typically arise from one fighting that new numbness feeling we describe above. “Botox blunts the expressions that create wrinkles, so if you keep trying to frown hard, raise your brows high in surprise, or smile so big your eyes scrunch up, you can get a headache,” Bowe says. “But 99.9 percent of the time, these headaches, whatever the cause, never reoccur—they’re one and done.” While it’s important to avoid pain-relievers, like Advil, aspirin, Aleve, and ibuprofen in the week prior to injections—as they can contribute to bruising—you’re safe to pop them after.