By Annette Brooks
Botox Cosmetic — aka Botox — is a household name, but it was virtually unknown to the public when cleared by the FDA 20 years ago as a temporary cosmetic treatment for moderate to severe frown lines (the “11s”) in adults. Little did we know then that this first-of-a-kind prescription cosmetic product would lead to a wave of new injectable aesthetic products.
Since 2002, Botox has received two additional cosmetic use indications from the FDA, making it the first neurotoxin FDA-cleared to temporarily improve the look of moderate to severe lines in adults in three areas —frown lines, crow’s feet (fine lines around the eye area), and forehead lines.
Today, Botox remains as popular as ever. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ 2020 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report, Botox is the #1 minimally invasive cosmetic procedure. And other reports indicate that more men are going under the needle, too, with “Brotox,” the most-requested cosmetic procedure for men.
How Botox Works
We know that Botox, a neurotoxin, can effectively smooth lines and dynamic wrinkles just by looking at the treatment results, but how does it work? When injected in very small doses, it inhibits the release of a neurotransmitter, relaxing treated muscles that cause wrinkles. In other words, according to the Mayo Clinic, Botox injections “block certain chemical signals from nerves, mostly signals that cause muscles to contract.”
Although you should discuss potential side effects with your provider, Botox is widely viewed as safe when used properly. In fact, it’s considered safe enough for people to get regular injections since the wrinkle-relaxing effects typically last an average of four months.
More Cosmetic Uses
Medical professionals continue to find off-label uses for Botox, i.e., uses the FDA has yet to clear. For instance, using Botox Cosmetic to temporarily relax forehead lines was cleared by the FDA in 2017, but it had been regularly used for this purpose for years before approval.
Botox has also been used cosmetically for years to help reduce the appearance of marionette lines by injecting a small number of units to relax the muscles that pull down the corners of the mouth. Another Botox application, called the “lip flip,” is trending. It involves injecting around four to six units of Botox into the upper lip at the center of the cupid’s bow to relax the muscles and turn the lip upward. The result is a better-defined cupid’s bow and a natural-looking lip shape. A lip flip may also help smooth vertical lip lines.
If you’re considering Botox, select a well-trained, experienced Botox injector who knows how to create natural-looking, optimal results. Be sure to ask for instructions on how to help improve your results.