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The long term effects of Botox injections

Although the process of injecting Botulinum Toxin – or simply ‘Botox’, first grew its roots in the mid-1980s, it wasn’t until recent years that the procedure has really taken off. Stringent regulations in most first-world nations ensure that those performing the treatment are highly qualified, and the underlying substance itself has been perfected to ensure the patient remains safe at all times. However, the debate on long term effects Botox is still a somewhat controversial one.

With that being said, we would argue that the process offers a number of long-lasting benefits that alternative treatments simply cannot match. Moreover, when you factor in the ease and convenience at which the treatment can be executed, this once again highlights why so many patients engage in botox injections on a regular basis. 

If you’re interested to find out more about botox, then be sure to read our opinion piece. Within it, we’ll discuss some of the many long term effects of botox that you need to be made aware of, subsequently allowing you to make an informed decision as to whether or not the treatment is right for you.

What is botox?

Before we delve into the fundamentals, it is crucial to ensure that you know exactly what botox is, and how the process typically works. In a nutshell, patients typically decide to undertake botox injections with the view of reducing the appearance of wrinkles found in and around the facial area. In less common instances, patients also consider the merits of botox to treat certain medical conditions. 

This includes an overactive bladder, neck spasms, and even excessive sweating. The specific toxin itself found within the botox injection is known as ‘onobotulinumtoxinA’. In layman terms, this has the desired effect of temporarily reducing the ability for muscles to move. 

In terms of the procedure itself in the context of reducing facial wrinkles, the end-to-end treatment can be completed in just a few minutes. The trained specialist will initially apply a numbing substance to the target area, subsequently ensuring that the patient does not experience any discomfort during the procedure. 

To complete the process, the specialist will insert a needle to inject the botox substance. The exact number of injections will vary from patient-to-patient. Once the patients leave the practice, they will typically begin to see the desired result within 1-3 days. It is important to note that botox injections are far from permanent. 

On the contrary, you will need to repeat the process for as long as you desire that wrinkle-free look. Once again, the specific frequency rate that you will require a top-up will vary from patient-to-patient. Nevertheless, most patients find that the effects of botox last for at least three months.

So now that you have a firm grasp of what botox actually is – and how the treatment process typically works, let’s explore some of the long term effects that the procedure can yield.

  1. Turn that frown upside down automatically

Taking a quick trip down memory late, most of us will remember being told by our parents not to frown because it will “give us wrinkles”. While it is likely that you failed to take the advice seriously at the time, the reality is that your parents were right. In other words, certain movements that we subconsciously make on a day-to-day basis can actually contribute to increased wrinkles. This can include anything from squinting, raising our eyebrows, and of course – frowning. 

I am sure that we can all agree that refraining from such actions is difficult, if not, virtually impossible – not least because we make these movements subconsciously. However, research suggests that botox can help train our muscles not to make these facial movements as frequently as we normally would.

Mara Weinstein, M.D. – a qualified dermatologist, notes that “Once you are used to the feeling of having less movement in the forehead after neurotoxin, you will be more aware of making the movement when the toxin wears off.” Weinstein continues by adding that because botox has the effect of temporarily paralyzing the underlying muscle, frowning becomes less of a seamless process. 

On the flip side, it is also important to note that for the aforementioned theory to remain constant, you would need to have undergone botox injections consistently for a number of years. Only then will your facial muscles learn not to form frequent wrinkle-forming expressions.

  1. Taking a break from botox is perfectly fine

While you might be in a position where you have been receiving botox injections for years on end, there is no harm in taking a break every now and then. One of the overarching reasons that seasoned patients continue with their botox treatments long term is that they are fearful that their face will return to its wrinkle-featuring appearance practically overnight. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

On the contrary, the general consensus is that years of usage will have the desired long term effect of slowing down the formation of wrinkles , meaning that even when you take a break from your stringent routine, you could still benefit from a younger, more youthful appearance. 

There is also a misconception that your facial muscles will need to catch up for lost time when you stop receiving botox injections, too. Notably, patients are not only fearful that wrinkles will return in super-quick fashion, but that they will be visible to the same extent had they never undertaken botox injections. However, this is once again nothing more than a myth. 

It is also important to note that over the course of time, you might find that you actually require less botox to retain your youthful look. Those that undergo botox injections for a number of years will likely find that their facial muscles carry less strength, meaning that the formation of wrinkles becomes somewhat hindered.

  1. long term usage rarely presents a risk

While the underlying toxin that is used to facilitate the botox injection process can be highly dangerous, ultra-small doses – as are utilized in the treatment, are safe. This viewpoint is further highlighted when you consider that just 36 reports of harmful results have been reported in the US between the years of 1989 and 2003. 

Moreover, it is important to note that these cases were linked with the underlying condition of the patients in question, as opposed to the botox substance itself. Once again, this is why patients are required to undergo a pre-screening consultation before treatment begins. As the pre-screening process is performed by a qualified cosmetic surgeon, they will have the required medical remit to assess whether ongoing usage is safe or not – based on the patient’s individual profile.

In terms of long term usage, the key point of consideration that needs to be made is that the outcome of botox injections are temporary. As noted above, the effects of the injection will eventually wear off, which is why patients are required to engage in repeated treatments in order to retain that youthful and wrinkle-free look. 

In a 2015 study, which sought to explore the long term effects of botox injections for the purpose of treating bladder conditions, researchers concluded that the underlying risks of botox did not increase over time. The aforementioned study was carried out over a period of two years.

  1. Botox can help treat other medical conditions

While the vast majority of patients globally will undergo a period of prolonged botox treatment for the purpose of alleviating the signs of wrinkles, it is important to note that the substance is also widely used to treat other conditions. 

While the specific conditions will be discussed shortly, it is crucial to note why botox, in particular, is considered. In a nutshell, the substance has the potential to block specific chemicals found in the nerves. In fact, these nerves are responsible for causing your muscles to contract. As botox essentially paralyzes the muscles around the target area, it can be used to treat a number of conditions. This includes:

  • Muscle contractures: Certain adverse conditions in the human body can lead to the undesired effect of pulling our limbs towards our center. Most commonly, this includes the condition of cerebral palsy. As such, botox injections can assist with relaxing contracted muscles.

  • Lazy eye: Often unbeknown to those in receipt of the condition, a lazy eye is typically caused when the muscles  tasked with positioning the eyes are imbalanced. As such, botox is often injected around the target area to treat the condition. Similarly, botox is often used to assist with eye twitching. Once again, this is associated with a contraction of the muscles.

  • Chronic migraine: If you find yourself suffering from migraines on a regular basis, you’ll know first-hand just how much discomfort this can cause. If your migraine is diagnosed as ‘chronic’ – meaning that you encounter the migraine for at least 15 days through a single month, then botox injections could help. Research suggests that the injection can reduce the number of migraines experienced by the patient.