Botulinum toxins are neurotoxins that affect nerves and cause muscle paralysis. A bacterium called Clostridium botulinum makes these neurotoxins. Healthcare providers use a specific type of the bacteria (type A) for medical injections.
Botulinum toxins occur in soil and contaminated foods. If you consume large amounts of botulinum toxins or the bacteria get into a wound, you can develop botulism. This serious nervous system disorder affects breathing.
Botox® is one of the most widely known brands of botulinum toxin injections. Healthcare providers inject small amounts of Botox or another type of botulinum toxins into specific muscles. This procedure can smooth wrinkles, prevent migraine headaches and treat other health problems.
Technicians develop botulinum toxins for cosmetic and medical procedures in a lab. Technicians dilute and sterilize the toxins so they won’t cause botulism.
There are different brand names for botulinum toxin injections. Not all products treat the same problems. Your healthcare provider can discuss the best option for your unique situation. Options include:
Repeated muscle contractions are one of the causes of wrinkles in the face. Botulinum toxins like Botox temporarily block nerve signals to muscles. As a result, injected muscles can’t contract (tense). They become weak or paralyzed. These effects can last for several months. The muscle injected is dependent on the area(s) of concern that you have. Several areas can be treated in one session.
Providers use botulinum toxin injections cosmetically to improve appearance. Medical Botox injections treat health problems. These conditions include:
Make sure your healthcare provider has a current list of the medications and supplements you take. Certain medications increase the risk of bruising at the injection site. These include anticoagulants or blood thinners (Warfarin®) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Alcohol also makes you more prone to redness and bruising. Don’t drink for 24 hours before a procedure.
Your healthcare provider uses a fine needle to inject small amounts of botulinum toxins into the treatment area. Depending on the problem, you may receive several injections in different spots. Here’s what else you need to know about the procedure:
Unless your healthcare provider says otherwise, you can return to work or most activities after treatment. To reduce redness, swelling or bruising:
Side effects from botulinum toxin injections vary depending on the area receiving treatment. Most problems improve in a day or two. They include:
Botulinum toxin injections are relatively safe. Still, you shouldn’t get this treatment if you have:
Treatment requires minimal downtime, you can return to your daily routine after treatment.
It can take several days for botulinum toxin injections to take effect. Within three to six months, toxins wear off, and muscles regain movement. As a result, wrinkles come back, and problems like migraines and sweating may resume. You may choose to get more botulinum toxin injections.
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
Health insurance policies vary, so always check with your provider. Most health insurers cover treatments for migraines, urinary incontinence or other medical conditions. Insurers don’t typically cover injections for cosmetic purposes.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Botulin toxin injections like Botox and Dysport offer temporary relief from migraines, excessive sweating, certain eye problems and other health problems. As a cosmetic procedure, these injections smooth wrinkles by preventing muscles from contracting. Treatment effects don’t last forever, which means you’ll need more injections in three to six months. It is safe to get repeated botulinum toxin injections.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 09/29/2020