Botox is the most popular non-surgical cosmetic treatment in the UK and USA. It has a very high satisfaction rate, regularly in the 90’s, in multiple surveys. It is seen as being affordable, effective, accessible and the perfect answer to fighting off wrinkles. As with any cosmetic treatment, simple or complicated, it is always better to know what you should consider and look out for, before commencing.
What is Botox?
Botox is a brand name for a drug that is prepared from Botulin. It comes from the word “botulous” which simply means sausage! Botulin has the properties to inhibit (relax) muscle movement, and this gives it the properties of fighting off wrinkles. It is occasionally referred to incorrectly as injecting a “poison” as the purity and concentrations used for cosmetic purposes makes it safe in the correct hands. It works simply by blocking the nerve signal to a group of muscles, thereby making the muscle more relaxed. This, in turn, reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
What is Botox used for?
Most people talk about Botox as a way of taking away frown lines, forehead lines, bunny lines and crows feet. While this accounts for the majority of its use, a large number of people have it for many other indications. These include stopping excessive sweating, gummy smiles, teeth grinding, migraines and headaches as well as for severe muscle spasms.
How long does Botox last?
People who have Botox often start to notice some difference after 3-5 days. The effects are at their best around 10-14 days after treatment. Botox is licenced to continue working for 3 months, but in many people, this effect can last much longer. People who have had Botox regularly often notice that over time they need less Botox and less often. This is because the muscle stays in a relaxed state as it stops being as active and the body “loses” the habit of frowning.
What is “Chotox”
Within the cosmetic industry, references are often made to “Chotox”. There is no drug called Chotox; this is, in fact, a term that was coined with many centres trying to cost cut by importing Botox from outside the EU, and initially from China – hence Ch..tox! Anyone considering having Botox should enquire where the drug to be injected has been sourced from. Reputable clinics will always have a GMC registered doctor on site that is the prescriber and injector. They will be willing to share the brand of drug being used, with its individual reference number and other issues such as expiry. It is important not to feel shy about asking for all these reassurances.
Everyone offers Botox; How do I know where to go?
The cosmetic industry in the UK is one of the very few in the world that has so little regulation. Everyone refers to the horror stories with famous ones covering Pete Burns and Joan Rivers. While they were not purely about Botox, the commonest reasons why people have problems is that allow a non-trained and inexperienced doctor (or often a non-doctor) to inject a drug into their face. It is essential you check the credentials and experience of the GMC registered doctor and ask for examples of their work. High-quality clinics will be CQC registered and delivering their care at a purpose-built clinic. Whilst no one wants to get their children to have their baby injections in a makeshift room in a house, people still get their Botox and cosmetic treatments in salons and houses. Many brands of Botox also require refrigeration and a mobile injector travelling to people’s homes is less likely to be able to adhere to this. Purpose built clinics have all the equipment and facilities that may be needed including a record of lower infection rates.
What side effects will I get?
Botox is often considered as a “lunchtime cosmetic procedure”. For most people aside from the occasional injection marks that look like little gnat bites that disappear in a few minutes, there are no side effects. Some people may get a very small bruise or a headache that is short-lived and doesn’t require treatment, or at most paracetamol. Discussion forums talk about “droopy eyes”; this is very uncommon, and the risk of this is much reduced by a combination of two things. The first is following the post-procedure advice and by picking an experienced and trained doctor as your injector. Eye droop is short-lived and resolves itself and can be treated if required with eye drops.
How much will it cost?
Prices of Botox treatments vary and depend on the number of areas treated; the muscle group targeted and if there is a medical condition being treated simultaneously. Prices in recognised clinics will often start from £130, and typical 2 area treatment should cost about £200 for an experienced doctor. Whilst some places may charge well over the rate due to overheads, and hence profit do remember, low prices should raise questions with respect to product source, clinic registration and the experience of the injector.
What aftercare do I need to follow?
Generally, you will be given an advice sheet/protocol to follow. This includes no alcohol for 24 hours, avoid blood thinners for a day or two, not lying flat for 4 hours after the treatment and not rubbing/massaging the injected area for a few hours. Common problems such as headaches and more importantly serious issues such as “eye drop” are increased when the aftercare is not followed. “Botox parties” where the place of injection is often a home usually with alcohol, are notorious for such problems.