You may think you know everything there is to know about Botox. You may know all its possible uses from smoothing wrinkles to warding off migraines to treating excessive sweating. Hey, you may have even sussed out the best doctors about town - and how much they charge per treatment. But do you know what it actually feels like to get Botox? For anyone considering the cosmetic treatment, we've laid out exactly what happens (with no details spared!).
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Your doctor or nurse should provide a full consultation before you even set eyes on a syringe. They may ask why you're there, what is concerning you and what your expectations are. Then they may discuss potential treatment options with you, including topical skincare and other non-invasive alternatives.
If you're looking for wrinkle prevention or treatment, the doctor will probably ask you to make all kinds of facial expressions - frown, smile, look surprised! - This is purely so they can properly assess the size and movement of the muscles on your face, how pronounced your wrinkles are, and where you'll begin to form wrinkles in the future.
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If you decide that Botox is the right treatment, you will have to book another follow-up appointment. Recent state that a doctor must give adequate time to come to a voluntary and informed decision on whether to proceed with the procedure. According to the guidelines, this time will vary depending on the patient, and is at the doctor's discretion (but as a general rule of thumb, a doctor shouldn't immediately reach for the needle, especially for first-timers - if they do, take it as a warning sign of their irresponsibility and find a new doctor).
Your doctor will ask you to take a seat, typically in a reclining chair similar to a dentist's. Then, they'll wash their hands and put on gloves (you know, standard hygiene practices).
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Botox is sold as a clear solution (it's diluted in saline) and is packaged in little vials, usually of 100 units or 200 units. Your doctor will need to prepare a syringe by pulling a small amount of the Botox liquid from a vial. The syringe should be encased in a sterile wrapping and should conform to the same standards as if you were in a hospital (no syringe should ever, ever be unsterile or reused!).
Then, it's injection time! Your doctor will ask you to engage the relevant muscles. If you're having your frown lines treated, the doctor will ask you to frown, or if you're having treatment for bruxism, the doctor will ask you to tense your jaw. This helps them to pin point the exact injection site for the most effective results.
The needle is extremely small so feels like nothing more than a pin prick, and there's no stinging or warm sensation when the solution is injected - other than the injection itself, the procedure is painless.
Afterwards, the doctor may press cotton swabs on the injection sites to reduce any bleeding and help to prevent bruises. And that's it! You're good to go.
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You may have some minor bleeding from where your skin has been pierced by the needle, and the area may be a little red, but this generally disappears within a few hours. There may also be light bruising, which is an unavoidable potential side effect of any procedure that causes trauma to and under the skin.
You won't be able to notice the difference for a day or two, but you'll begin to find it harder and harder to move the muscle. Eventually, depending on how much your doctor used, the muscle will become permanently relaxed, and remain so even when you try and move it. This lasts about four to six months, after which time it will begin to gradually wear off over the course of a few weeks. If you choose to repeat the treatment, you should let your muscles regain full movement before booking back in. This just helps to avoid the muscle becoming weak and, eventually, wasting away.