What is a Botox injection?

A Botox injection is a minor procedure that treats lines and wrinkles of the face and neck. A Botox injection contains botulinum toxin, a neurotoxin that relaxes muscles to smooth out lines and wrinkles. Botox temporarily creates a more youthful appearance. You must repeat Botox injections every three to four months to maintain results.

A Botox injection is only one method to treat wrinkles and aging skin. Discuss all of your treatment choices with your doctor to understand which option is best for you.  

Why is Botox injection performed? 

Your doctor may recommend Botox injections if you are middle-aged under 65 and want a more youthful look of the face and possibly the neck. You should be physically healthy and have realistic expectations of temporary improvement, not perfection.

A Botox injection can improve the appearance of the following signs of aging for three to four months:

  • Crow’s feet around the eyes 
  • Forehead lines 
  • Frown lines between the eyebrows (glabellar lines)
  • Neck wrinkles and bands 

Who performs a Botox injection?

Many types of doctors and other professionals perform Botox injections. It’s important to find the right professional to give you a Botox injection. Choose a professional who is licensed and specializes in facial aesthetics (cosmetics) and has experience in injecting Botox, such as a dermatologist or plastic surgeon

A dermatologist specializes in the medical and surgical care of the skin, hair, and nails. A plastic surgeon specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

How is a Botox injection given?

Your Botox injection will be performed in a clinic setting. The procedure includes the following steps:

  1. Your doctor will determine if you are a candidate for Botox injections. This includes performing an examination, taking a medical history, and asking about your goals and expectations for Botox injections. 
  2. Your doctor will develop a personalized treatment plan and discuss it with you.
  3. Your doctor may numb your skin in the injection area with a cold pack or anesthetic cream.
  4. Your doctor will use a tiny needle to inject Botox into the muscles that cause lines and wrinkles. Each injection takes a few seconds.

Will I feel pain with a Botox injection?

Your comfort and relaxation is important to both you and your doctor. You may feel a brief pinch or prick during the needle insertion. Take a few long, deep breaths to help yourself relax. Tell your doctor if any discomfort does not pass quickly.

Types of anesthesia that may be used

A Botox injection causes minimal, brief discomfort and does not generally require anesthesia. Tell your doctor if injections make you nervous or anxious and ask about numbing the area with a cold pack or anesthetic cream before the injection. 

What are the risks and potential complications of a Botox injection?  

Potential complications and side effects of Botox injections include: 

  • Allergic reaction
  • Discomfort or pain at the injection site
  • Dry mouth
  • Eyelid problems including drooping or swelling of the eyelids
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Infection
  • Neck pain
  • Pain, redness, swelling, bruising or bleeding at the injection site
  • Vision and eye problems including dry eyes, double vision, blurred vision, and decreased eyesight

The botulinum toxin that makes up Botox can spread to other areas in rare cases. This can cause a serious disease called botulism. 

Botulism can cause weakness of other muscles, including muscles that control swallowing and breathing. Spread of the botulinum toxin can be fatal in extreme cases. However, it has not occurred in properly selected patients who receive the recommended dose of Botox.  

Reducing your risk of complications

The risk of serious complications with a Botox injection is greater in people with certain conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following: 

  • Breathing problems or diseases including asthma or emphysema
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • History of bleeding problems or are taking blood thinner medications
  • Pregnancy or nursing, or plan to become pregnant or nurse. It is not known if Botox injections are safe for unborn or nursing babies.
  • Recent surgery or plan to have surgery in the near future 
  • Side effects from a botulinum toxin product in the past
  • Weakness of facial muscles, such as trouble raising your eyebrows