Updated January, 2020.
As we get older, our faces naturally begin to lose their elasticity which leads to sagging skin and wrinkles. Even certain environmental factors, such as air pollution and the sun, can affect our faces and cause lines and sagging to be more pronounced.
While creams or serums can help as preventive measures, it can be tricky to find a lasting result. Many people end up turning towards Botox because of its proven results fighting signs of aging.
While Botox is a safe and effective treatment and is frequently talked about, people are still unsure about what all the process entails and what the results are really like.
In this article, we are going to be tackling what you need to know before your first Botox injection. We will also answer some of the most common questions regarding Botox. And for those who are afraid of needles, we are also sharing some information about how you can fix wrinkles and saggy skin without having to get any injections.
What to expect before your first Botox injection
Botox is a popular and safe option for treating wrinkles. However, the way the procedure gets depicted in movies and tv shows can make people a little bit skeptical.
People are shown with overly frozen faces and overdramatized appearances, and nobody wants that!
When done by an expert and competent doctor, botox injections should look as normal as possible. If you've been wondering why your favorite movie stars in their 40's and 50's look timeless, chances are they've done a little bit of fix here and there.
And yes, Botox is usually the hero.
If you will decide to get this treatment yourself, you want to make sure you are going to a legitimate doctors office or clinic who are experts in this field.
Beware of enticing pop-up offers and overly cheap fees on the internet. Chances are, these are unreliable and could be a culprit to many botched botox treatments.
Talk to your medical practitioner about the results you are hoping to see and understand the process fully before committing. Talking about the type of movement you want to see post procedure is helpful and can prevent you from receiving that frozen look.
Results and processes are different for everyone, which we will discuss in detail further down below.
You will want to plan accordingly before your first procedure. While anesthesia isn’t involved, and you'll only have a few marks after, there are some things you’ll want to be prepared for ahead of time. You may even want to have a close friend or family member nearby for support.
To avoid bruising after your injection, you’ll want to stay away from items that can thin your blood, such as alcohol, ibuprofen, aspirin and fish oil at least a week before your procedure.
If you are taking any medications, it is best to inform your medical practitioner so that they are aware of what medicines to discontinue prior to, during, and after your procedure.
Worried about the pain factor? Most say that it feels like a mild burning sensation. If you are super concerned about the pain ahead of time, you can ask for a topical numbing cream that can be applied about 20 minutes before the injection.
How exactly does Botox work?
The short answer is that Botox temporarily poisons the muscles which make them stop working. Because of the paralysis, wrinkles will relax and soften. Due to the results, Botox is the most common cosmetic procedure performed to fix wrinkles and fine facial lines.
While this procedure sounds miraculous, it only works on wrinkles due to natural causes, like the wrinkles developed from frowning, smiling and laughing. Any wrinkles caused by sun damage or gravity will not respond well to this treatment.
As Botox is great in the battle on anti-aging, it’s becoming popular for preventative measures among 20 somethings. Why they may not be experiencing many changes in terms of wrinkles, the few they are seeing they want fixed and believe that starting now can help slow the aging process.
With any procedure, no matter how popular and safe, there are always some risks. When it comes to Botox, the most common risks are pain, swelling, or bruising at the injection site.
You may also get a headache or flu-like symptoms, droopy eyelids or cockeyed eyebrows. Others experience having a crooked smile, drooling, eye dryness or excessive tearing.
Again, these are potential risks and these may or may not occur to you.
Now, let us go to the 5 important questions about botox treatment.
Question #1: What does Botox feel like when it first starts working?
As wrinkles can be caused by overworked muscles, Botox works by relaxing the muscles and preventing them from working at their fullest. The Botox will start to take effect between three to five days, so it’s not an immediate feeling as some would hope.
After this period, you shouldn’t feel anything abnormal. Occasionally, too much Botox can be injected into the muscles, and that is when some people experience a heaviness. This can also vary based on where the injection was.
For first-timers, experienced medical practitioners will be cautious about how much Botox they are injecting. As this is a process that users tend to repeat, the dosage can increase moving forward based on the results patients are looking for.
For first time users, it's better to do a lighter dosage the first time to make sure you are on the right track. While changing to a higher dose is easy, trying to reverse the effects of an overly strong dosage is challenging, which is why starting lower is better.
Question #2: When will I see results?
We live in a world where everybody wants immediate results. While you’re hoping that pesky forehead line will be gone as soon as the Botox is injected, that, unfortunately, won’t be the case.
As previously mentioned, initial results will be visible within three to five days, with full results visible after 14 days. With any procedure, results for everybody are different.
Some things that may affect results are:
Strong facial muscles: If you have strong facial muscles, it can take a little bit longer to notice the results.
Existing wrinkles: Due to the severity of your wrinkles, it may take longer to achieve the results you are hoping for.
For those with extremely deep wrinkles, Botox alone probably won’t fix this, and if it does it will be a long process.
Are you getting married soon or have a special vacation coming up? For these occasions, people want to be looking their best.
If you are getting the procedure for a specific cause, make sure there is enough time in between consultations, appointments, and recovery, so the timing lines up perfectly with your event.
Question #3: How long does Botox last?
Botox is unfortunately not a once and done procedure. While you will see some results after your first time, to keep the benefits going, you will have to go back multiple times.
On average, Botox will last four to six months. However, the effects of the first treatment often fade a bit faster. It is recommended to schedule a follow-up appointment two to three months after your first procedure.
Similar to how seeing results will vary on a case by case basis, the same is true of how long the results will last. Some factors that can alter the effectiveness of Botox are:
Dilution of the dosage: In most cases, Botox is diluted with 1 to 3 ccs of saline solution. However, based on the area being targeted, this amount can change.
This can affect your results because a more concentrated solution leads to a more exact treatment, whereas a more diluted treatment can travel to other areas you weren’t looking to target.
Additionally, some injectors over-dilute the necessary dosage, and therefore you are missing out on the full benefits of the product and not getting the full results you were expecting.
The freshness of the product: Did you know that Botox comes in a frozen, powdered form? The saline is mixed into the solution prior to the injection.
While Botox should be used within 24 hours of mixing in the saline, technically Botox is good for up to two weeks. It’s most effective when used in that 24-hour window, so if it’s used after that, the results may not hold up as well.
Your metabolism: Those who are extremely athletic tend to metabolize the product faster.
The area injected: Not every area is going to respond the same to the injection. Areas with larger muscles (ex: forehead) won’t hold the results as long as smaller areas (ex: crows’ feet lines).
The dosage in the region that has been injected: Similar to the earlier point about dosages, some areas may require a stronger dosage. However, for first timers, injectors typically use a smaller dosage because using too much can produce undesirable results, such as a frozen look.
Your age: With age, unfortunately, comes more wrinkles, and as we previously mentioned with deeper wrinkles needing more treatment, the same is true for older patients. Because the elasticity is already so much lower in their skin, results of Botox don’t last as long as younger patients.
Medical conditions: You may have heard that Botox can be used to help conditions like migraines or excessive sweating. For these results to last longer, patients will likely need to go even more frequently for injections.
Question #4: Can the effects of Botox injections be extended?
With how pricey Botox can be, and how good the results make you feel, you’re going to want to hang on to the effects for as long as possible.
So are there ways to keep up the good feeling?
Some studies have suggested that taking zinc supplements can extend the efficacy of Botox.
Also, Retin-A is favored by dermatologists to help with wrinkles and clear up acne. It is one of the best creams you can use in fighting against aging skin concerns.
As Retin-A acts as an exfoliator and encourages positive cell growth, using this in conjunction with Botox injections can give you stronger results, and help your treatment last longer.
Another thing to note is that you have to be careful when you are working out. While you may be feeling great and ready to crush your next HIIT workout shortly after your appointment, not leaving enough downtime after your treatment can cause the product to metabolize before it’s had the chance to work its magic.
You should avoid strenuous exercise for at least 24 hours following your injection.
The best way to keep up long-term botox results is to visit your injector frequently. Generally, receiving the treatments more frequently will lead to a long-lasting result that you are working towards.
One study said that getting regular injections every four months for two years causes the muscles to take a very long time recovering, which translates to your Botox injections lasting longer.
Additionally, when scheduling follow-up appointments, it’s recommended to schedule your next appointment before the effects of your previous injection wear off.
Question #5: Can the effects of Botox be undone?
Procedures like botox injections come with potential risks and they may not always turn out the way you were expecting or hoping for. Especially when you go to unreliable or untrained personnel, things may go out of hand.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for getting Botox out of your system. It has to be metabolized naturally on its own.
The best thing you can do is talk to your injector about your concerns and express your unhappiness with the results. Hopefully, with their guidance, you are able to get some help to achieve the results you were seeking.
Afraid of needles, but tired of your wrinkles?
For those looking to reduce their wrinkles but are hesitant to go with Botox, there’s another way you can address those pesky lines.
Did you know about red light therapy and the positive effects it can have?
Red light therapy, also known as Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) or photobiomodulation, can be used for healing the skin. It has many known therapeutic effects that can help resolve skin concerns like aging, psoriasis, slow-healing wounds, sun damage, rosacea, and even thinning hair.
Because of its wavelength, red light is able to get deep into the skin layers and target cells to repair issues like wrinkles, sun damage, and many more. The typical wavelength range for this therapy is 600nm to 900nm, and visible red light is between 620nm and 700nm.
Red light therapy has been studied for many years. Scientists first began learning about this therapy as they studied it with plants and since then, NASA has used this method to grow plants in space.
So how does it work?
It is believed that the red light works by targeting the mitochondria which are the powerhouse of the cell - where all of the cell’s energy is created.
Red light therapy produces a biochemical effect in those cells and therefore powers up the mitochondria to start cellular level changes.
Why you should consider red light therapy?
As we mentioned, no needles are used in the process of red light therapy. While lasers burn and damage the skin, red light therapy uses medical grade LED bulbs that do not produce heat. Therefore, it is safe to be used at home without having to worry about causing burns on the skin.
It doesn't require a professional license to operate. All you need is to assemble the LED lamp, wear the goggles (to protect your eyes) and touch the on-off button and enjoy your 5-minute red light treatment.
Some people are concerned that red light therapy leads to sun damage or burns because it’s similar to the light you experience with the sun. However, this is untrue. In fact, red light therapy helps reverse sun damage!
Sunburns or sun damage is caused by ultraviolet rays that are naturally present in sunlight. Our LED bulbs are UV-free and we only use red, amber, yellow and infrared lights.
Stay away from red light tanning beds as these use fluorescent bulbs that still produce some levels of UV lights.
Are there any negative side effects from red light therapy?
While red light therapy is safe to use, potential risks include headaches, eyestrain, seizures, and irritability. Because you are working so close to the LED lights, it’s important to keep your eyes safe during the procedure.
Most of the time these effects are caused due to glare from the light. It is important to wear eye goggles to protect your eyes. It also helps to keep your eyes shut during the procedure.
The many different uses of red light therapy
As mentioned, red light therapy can help a variety of skincare issues. However, red light therapy comes in many forms.
For example, some salons use red light beds, and those are targeted towards skin concerns like stretch marks and wrinkles.
At a doctors office, you could find people using red light therapy for more serious issues like psoriasis, slow healing wounds, and even the side effects of chemotherapy.
There are also some red light products available in the market to alleviate pain and grow hair.
Red light therapy has many benefits and what was once only available in professional settings, it is now available for home use.
Is red light therapy right for you?
Aside from its anti-aging effects, red light therapy can also speed up healing any skin inflammation. If you have acne that won’t go away, a few wrinkles forming, or just want to overall improve your skin a little, red light therapy could definitely be the right choice for you.
With a lower commitment than Botox, and the opportunity to focus on multiple areas, this could provide you with the skin care relief you’ve been looking for.
While Botox is safe and effective with mild risks, it is not the right course of action for everyone, and thankfully with new technology and research being done all the time, more options are becoming available.
If you’re interested in learning more about at-home red light therapy devices and exploring more ways this therapy can help you, Trophy Skin has a lot of information and resources available for you. Our in-office esthetician is available and dedicated to helping you achieve the skincare results you are looking for.
Post updated for 2019.