Botox isn’t for everyone, but if you are considering having it done you need to do your research first. We have enlisted the help of Susan Austin from the Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australasia to answer some commonly asked Botox questions.
What is Botox?
Botulinum toxin, more commonly known by its brand names, BOTOX® or Dysport, is a muscle relaxant that can be used to treat ‘dynamic lines’.
Dynamic lines are created by the movement of facial muscles which produce creases in the skin. By reducing or stopping the action of these muscles, dynamic lines will soften or even disappear. This can be achieved using small, precise injections of BOTOX or Dysport.
BOTOX and Dysport work in similar ways. Essentially, they work by latching on to the nerve endings which normally activate the muscle and prevent the nerve from releasing the chemicals that cause the muscle to contract.
The most-commonly treated areas are frown lines (between the eyebrows), crow’s feet and the forehead, but many other areas may be treated for suitable patients such as folds around the mouth or to smooth lines on the neck. BOTOX or Dysport can also be used to change the face shape by slightly relaxing, lowering or raising the jaw line and eyebrows.
What Should I Expect?
For most patients, there is a small, momentary, localised sting at the site of the injection, however pain is generally minimal and anaesthetic is not normally required for the administration of BOTOX or Dysport. Some doctors offer a local anaesthetic cream prior to the procedure which usually means getting to your appointment half an hour early.
Following the injection the skin usually looks slightly flushed for a few minutes. Bruising sometimes occurs after any injection and occasionally some people experience a headache after an injection in the forehead. Another common side effect is slight temporary swelling that can occur at the area of the injection.
I recommend that patients plan a quiet night at home following treatment, drink lots of water and avoid aspirin-based medications and alcohol as both can extend bruising. Cool compresses can also help. If everything goes to plan then there is no reason not to resume your normal program the next day. Many patients return to work immediately.
If you are considering the treatment for a special occasion you should allow for treatment at least two weeks before the event to ensure any swelling or bruising has subsided. However, for first time patients, I recommend treatment six months prior to an important occasion like a wedding. This ensures patients know what to expect and I find they’re often happier with the outcome the second time around as any minor adjustments can be made to improve the result, prior to their big day.
How Much Does Botox Cost?
Pricing of botulinum toxin treatments vary depending on the number of units and type of product required. It generally costs between $15 and $25 per unit (and most people will spend approximately $300 per area).
The total cost varies depending on the cosmetic outcomes the patient is pursuing. Factors such as their age, state of their skin, and depth and extension of wrinkles will also influence the dosage. The average starting dose for a developing frown line is around 16 units.
How Often Should I Get it?
Treatments are typically spaced at least three months apart, however some individuals find that results can be seen up to seven months after treatment. In general, it is recommended that a three monthly schedule is adhered to for the first 12 months, after which time there can be a greater residual effect and treatments can be spaced six months apart.
Are There any Risk Factors?
In the majority of cases, botulinum toxin is safe, however there are circumstances, such as during pregnancy or when breastfeeding, where it should not be prescribed. This is why it’s important to see a doctor who specialises in these procedures – doctors are required to carry – out a thorough consultation to establish whether the patient is a suitable candidate, prior to prescribing treatments.
It is also important not to massage BOTOX or Dysport for at least two hours after the injections as this could potentially move the product and result in other muscles also relaxing which could produce an undesired effect such as an eyelid or brow droop. Any such effects are temporary but may last for some weeks. Certain eye-drops may help with drooping eyelids (but not brows). Asymmetries may be improved with additional injections.
Who Should Perform the Treatment?
BOTOX and Dysport are listed as ‘Schedule 4’ products by the TGA, which means they are only available through prescription. As such, a patient is required to have a consultation with a medical doctor before receiving this type of cosmetic treatment.
During the consultation the doctor will take into account a patient’s medical history, undertake a physical assessment and consider other factors to ensure the patient receives the most appropriate treatment plan.
I would strongly recommend receiving BOTOX/Dysport injections from a registered doctor, however, a registered and appropriately trained nurse may administer these injections, but they should be directly supervised by a doctor, and only after the patient has had a consultation with the physician.
Intending patients can check a doctor’s qualifications via the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website, where they will also be able to see if the doctor has any restrictions or conditions placed on them. The same information can be found for registered nurses via the AHPRA website.
The CPSA strongly recommend that patients considering fillers or BOTOX have a consultation with a doctor who specialises in cosmetic medicine to ensure they are suitable for treatment. To find a doctor visit www.cosmeticphysicians.org.au
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