Why are people nervous about plastic surgery? There are several reasons. People are scared of the horror stories they read, or perhaps they’re simply uninformed. Maybe they’ve seen results from a botched procedure performed by someone without the proper skill and training. The truth is, over the years, the practice of cosmetic surgery has been improved and refined to a point where it is incredibly controlled and safe, especially when procedures are performed by experienced and board-certified medical professionals.
Botox — a common injectable used to treat and reduce wrinkles — is no exception, yet many people still buy into the many Botox myths out there. But Carmen Kavali, MD, of Atlanta’s Kavali Plastic Surgery and Skin Renewal Center, and Harvey “Chip” Cole, III, MD, of Atlanta’s Oculus Plastic Surgery agree: You can bet on Botox safety, and it’s one of the most effective wrinkle treatments on the market.
If you’re considering Botox, learn the truth about these top six Botox myths.
1. Botox is poisonous.
Likely due to the fact that large amounts of the Clostridium botulinum is known to cause botulism, one of the biggest myths about Botox is that it’s a poison, says Kavali. “But in fact, it’s a purified protein derivative of a natural product that happens to block the communication channel between a nerve and a muscle. So it doesn’t truly paralyze the muscle itself —l it just stops the nerve from telling the muscle to move. And, of course, that effect is temporary.”
2. Botox is dangerous.
One of the biggest Botox myths centers on its safety profile, says Cole. “It actually has a better safety record than aspirin. Aspirin has more side effects, [and] it has accounted for deaths. Where people get into trouble is with black market Botox,” he says. Cole says that the approved, cosmetic Botox that only trained and certified professionals have legal access to is very safe.
“I love the versatility of Botox and its safety,” says Kavali. She says that the safety of the product is one of its biggest appeals.
3. Botox is painful.
Every patient’s threshold for pain is different, but most people report minimal discomfort, according to Cole. “Most of my patients say it was so much easier than they thought it’d be.”
“In my office, Botox treatments are done using a very tiny needle,” says Kavali. “We do not use any type of numbing — even those patients who fear needles are pleasantly surprised regarding how little discomfort there is!”
4. Botox causes excessive swelling, redness and bruising — making the skin appear worse than before the treatment.
Again, patients’ reactions to Botox injections vary, but overall, the side effects are mild and temporary. What can you expect with your Botox treatment?
Kavali says, “The treatment area is cleaned with an alcohol pad, [and] then the quick, tiny injections are done. It does take several injections to treat most areas. Each site looks a little pink and swollen for about 15 to 20 minutes, then it looks ‘normal’ again.”
“The needle is very tiny, but it is still possible to have some bruising after treatment, particularly around the eyes. It’s less common to have any bruising on the forehead, but you should stop taking aspirin, Motrin or other blood thinners for a few days prior to your procedure, if you’re worried about bruising,” says Kavali.
5. Botox can be used to treat any and all facial wrinkles.
While this is true in most cases, Botox is better at treating dynamic wrinkles, or “movement wrinkles,” says Cole. For static wrinkles — or, deeper, “wrinkles at rest” — volume fillers such as Juvederm or Restylane may be a better fit or be used in conjunction with Botox.
6. Botox can only be used on certain areas of the face.
“Botox can be used for more than just the lines in the upper face,” says Kavali. “It can work beautifully to lift the corners of the mouth and to smooth bands in the neck. In the upper face, Botox can do more than just improve those ‘11s’ — those forehead lines and those crows’ feet — it can be used to lift the brow position, to make the eyes appear more open and fresh.”
Botox safety is something proven, and behind the hands of a skilled injector, what minimal risks of Botox that do exist