Botox & Fillers FAQ

What Is Botox?

Botox is a medication produced by the bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. Botulism is a toxin that causes paralysis, but Botox is a highly refined form of the toxin and is used in tiny amounts, so it is not dangerous. Botox paralyzes muscles in the face that cause wrinkles; it is also used to treat conditions like excessive underarm sweating, overactive bladder, and migraines.

How Is Botox Used?

Wrinkles form because the muscles underneath them move and pull the skin. Botox temporarily paralyzes the muscles, which stops the skin from wrinkling. “Temporary” paralysis lasts about three months and can last as long as a year, so repeat treatments are usually necessary. The medication is injected under the surface of the skin with very tiny needles.

What’s the Advantage of Botox Over Other Treatments?

Although wrinkles can also be removed with procedures like face-lifts, they take longer and require surgery. Since Botox is an office-based procedure, it’s quick — usually about 20 to 30 minutes — and only needs a local anesthetic. There is no recovery time, and results are apparent in about three days. It is also much less expensive than a surgery. Pain is minimal and usually responds to an ice pack.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Botox Treatment?

Age is irrelevant when it comes to Botox treatment, and some younger patients use it as a preventive strategy. Patients should be in good general health. Anyone with facial wrinkles would be a good candidate, although treatment is not likely to be effective if deep wrinkles are caused by sagging skin. People who have wrinkles around the eyes, between the eyes or on the forehead are usually good candidates for Botox. Although treatments are safe, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t have Botox treatment; it cannot be used in people who are allergic to the medication.

What’s a Filler?

Dermal fillers (dermal means skin) replace subcutaneous (under the skin) fat, which is lost as people age. Fillers usually include collagen, which is an animal protein that provides structure to underlying tissue as well as the skin. Collagen diminishes with age, which makes the skin sag. Fillers may also include or be made from hyaluronic acid, which is also a natural substance found in the skin. Hyaluronic acid helps plump the skin by attracting moisture. Fat harvested from elsewhere in the patient’s body may also be used as a filler.

What Are Fillers Used For?

The purpose of fillers is to restore volume and fullness. A filler can make thin lips look plump, diminish facial lines and help improve the appearance of scars. Shallow contours in the face can be corrected with a filler, and fillers can also soften facial creases. Fillers are typically used to reduce the signs of aging but may also be used in younger people to correct or enhance aspects of appearance such as naturally thin lips.

What’s the Procedure Like?

The doctor or nurse will clean the skin and then apply a local anesthetic cream or inject it under the skin; in some cases, an ice pack is used instead to numb the skin. The filler is injected under the skin with a very fine needle. Although the injection is not really painful, some fillers do sting or cause discomfort when injected. The procedure is quick and can be performed in the doctor’s office; no recovery time is required. If there is burning or swelling after the injection, it quickly diminishes.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Dermal Fillers?

Both men and women are usually good candidates for facial fillers as long as they are in good general health and don’t smoke (smoking affects the skin and overall health). Age is not necessarily relevant, as sun damage or hereditary factors can cause signs of premature aging even in younger individuals. People who want to enhance their appearance, minimize signs of aging or correct a minor deformity are good candidates for fillers.

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