Olivia Beresford, Founder and Director of the Olivia Beresford Aesthetic Clinic on Harley Street, shares 5 things you should probably know before you try Botox
Botulinum Toxin is the medical name for Botox, and it is one of the most commonly performed aesthetic procedures worldwide.
The original brand of Botulinum toxin A is called ‘Botox’, but the name is now synonymous with any Botulinum toxin treatment.
Botox has been around for decades now and is now being used for an ever-expanding set of conditions.
It you are thinking about having Botox for the first time, here are some things that you might find useful to know before you make that appointment…
#1 Botox only works for some kinds of wrinkles
Botulinum Toxin A works by interrupting the communication between a nerve ending and a muscle, preventing it from contracting.
This effect is used to relax wrinkles, but we can also use toxins to treat areas of excessive sweating (for example the scalp area or under the arms) or to help reduce strength of muscles that make us grind our teeth.
Sometimes toxins are deployed to correct a person’s smile or give a patient a mild lift by relaxing their neck bands.
Wrinkle relaxing in the forehead is by far the most common use of toxin injections and it is very popular with patients of all ages.
Botulinum toxin will not correct all wrinkles
One thing to keep in mind is that Botulinum toxin will not correct all wrinkles. The wrinkles that appear when we move our facial muscles are called dynamic wrinkles. If we frown or raise our eyebrows a lot, that is when dynamic wrinkles become apparent.
Static wrinkles however are visible even if we are at rest – they are due to the damage and loss of collagen and elastin in the skin around them.
Once the muscle is relaxed by injected toxin, it can no longer move the overlying skin and the dynamic wrinkles disappear.
Static wrinkles, on the other hand, will not disappear after Botulinum toxin injections, although they may improve a little with continuous use.
#2 Botox usually only lasts around three months
It takes our bodies on average 12 weeks to form new connections around the nerve ending and so in most cases the effect of the injections will wear off after that.
The effect is normally greatest at two to four weeks after initial treatment and starts to gradually wear off from about week six.
This is something to keep in mind because if you decide to maintain the effect after the first session, you will need to come in regularly for repeat appointments.
The good news is that if you use Botulinum toxin relatively regularly, you may find that you can go longer between treatments and that you require a lower dose to get the same effect.
#3 Side effects can happen
In trained hands, Botulinum toxin injections are considered extremely safe. Most side effects relate to the act of injection rather than the medication itself.
Bruising and swelling at the injection site can happen and can be hard to prevent. Do keep this in mind if you are planning to have the treatment before a special occasion – it is best to go for treatment a couple of weeks before the event to in case there’s any bruising to settle.
best to go for treatment a couple of weeks before the event
Asymmetry in the days immediately after treatment can sometimes happen, but this is normally mild and is short lived.
This happens because Botulinum toxin takes around two weeks after injection to develop its full effects. Some areas may relax sooner than others, but in the end they all ‘catch up’ and the balance returns.
Headaches and symptoms resembling a flu after Botulinum toxin injections can happen, most last 12 to 24 hours and are easily relieved by rest and simple analgesics like paracetamol.
#4 Botox can be used to prevent wrinkles, but be careful not to overdo it
This is a very common reason for treatment – younger patients are looking to prevent both static and dynamic wrinkles from forming, most commonly in the forehead or around the eyes.
The best way to know where you are going to get wrinkles as you get older is to look at your parents – genetics play a huge role in how we age. If your mother has very prominent frown lines, you too are more likely to develop them as you age.
Using lower doses of toxins is a way to prevent the ‘culprit’ muscles from contracting too much and stop the wrinkles from appearing years down the line.
The challenge in these cases is not to over-treat. Since these treatments are normally started at a younger age, the patient is likely to be having botulinum toxin for several decades to come.
look at your parents – genetics play a huge role in how we age
An experienced practitioner will be able to find a balance between preventing wrinkles and not causing muscle thinning/atrophy from prolonged toxin use.
Not all areas of the face can be treated with Botulinum Toxin, there may be alternative treatments that are better suited to you
While toxin injections can help with a number of concerns, it does not mean that they can fix every wrinkle on our faces.
Deep static wrinkles around the forehead or those formed around the mouth and on our cheeks will not be improved by Botulinum Toxin injections or the results may be too subtle to be considered a good outcome given the treatment costs.
Procedures and products that correct skin texture, increase collagen and elastin production and improve hydration may be better suited to treat concerns that cannot be addressed with botulinum toxin alone.
It is always a good idea to consult with an experienced medical professional about your treatment goals so that together you can formulate a plan that will get you the results you want.
After qualifying as a doctor in Australia, Olivia Beresford undertook her postgraduate training in Anaesthesia and Accident and Emergency for the NHS in the UK.
After the birth of her second son 6 years ago, Olivia believed she looked as if she had aged 10 years, that’s when she started exploring aesthetic medicine, initially as a patient.
A single simple treatment improved her confidence so much, she felt like a new woman and was thrilled with the results, so went on to train in aesthetic medicine.
Olivia holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Aesthetic Medicine from the Queen Mary University of London and is an Affiliated Member of the Aesthetics Complications Expert Group (ACE), which aims to improve patient safety in aesthetic practice.
Olivia is also a member of the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP), an organisation promoting public safety and good practice in non-surgical aesthetics.