How Botox Treatments Work

When you raise your eyebrows or smile and see crinkles on the edges of your eye, the facial muscles resting underneath are contracting. These contractions may make your face move, but they also make wrinkles more noticeable. That’s where Botox comes in.

Imagine your face like a telephone line where your facial muscles — in this scenario, your phone — and your nerves communicate to your brain, which receives the call. When your physician injects Botox into areas that appear wrinkled, this is like cutting your telephone line, preventing the nerves and muscles from communicating as effectively. As a result, your wrinkles appear softer and more relaxed. This is why Botox treatments are often recommended for areas facial movements can wear your skin down over time, such as forehead lines, frown lines between your eyes and crow’s feet that cause wrinkles on the sides of your eyes.

Botox Treatment Frequency

While Botox treatments can temporarily affect nerve communication, the results are not permanent. As months pass, you may notice wrinkles returning. One factor that affects this is how much Botox your physician injects in the first place. If your physician started with a small amount, this will wear off faster than a larger amount. Your physician can adjust the dosage accordingly once he reviews your results.

Provided you have not experienced adverse side effects from the injections, your physician may recommend returning for maintenance doses into the areas every three to four months. This time frame is recommended because it is long enough to keep wrinkles from reappearing, yet not so frequent you are visiting your physician for Botox treatments every other week.

Working Toward Maintenance

Botox can have short- and long-term beneficial effects, including the ability to “train” your facial muscles to relax. This means over time you may find you are able to extend the amount of time between Botox treatments.

“Botox will keep the facial muscles atrophied, and over time the muscles grow accustomed to staying in this position,” says Franklin D. Richards, MD, FACS, Chief of Plastic Surgery at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. “This is why it is important to be on a regular injection routine. With the help of a physician, each patient can determine what the best schedule for Botox injections can be.”

While it can be tempting to seek Botox treatments more frequently, the recommended three to four month waiting period is really more for your looks and health. Injecting Botox too frequently can cause excess amounts of Botox in your body. One result can be that your face appears frozen or immobile, which can look highly unnatural. At its most severe, excess amounts of Botox can cause botulism, a condition that causes paralysis. While an extreme instance, this example illustrates the importance of choosing a reputable physician to administer your Botox treatments. In the right hands, Botox is a safe and highly effective way to reduce facial wrinkles. However, you want to find a physician who will be honest and consider your safety in the frequency of injection administrations.
“What’s most important is you find a physician that routinely performs Botox injections and specializes in them,” Dr. Richards says. “Because injectables are about 90 percent art and 10 percent science, you really have to have an eye for what has to be corrected and what can be corrected.”