Updated: May 27
Botox, Dysport, and Jeuveau rely on precise injections of a neurotoxin to improve the appearance of the skin. It may sound frightening to inject a neurotoxin into your body, but these treatments are actually proven to safely create or maintain a healthier, more youthful appearance of the skin.
These are commonly used in areas of facial expression – crow’s feet, furrows between our brows and forehead lines. Neurotoxins work by inhibiting the contraction of your muscle in and around those “problem areas.” Neurotoxins are great for not only smoothing and diminishing lines but also for preventing the increased intensity of those lines as we age.
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What are Neurotoxin Injections?
In the U.S., we have a tendency to associate products with brand names, and for many people, the brand name Botox is synonymous with neurotoxin injections. However, this is only one of the multiple available brands and types of neurotoxin injections available that limit voluntary muscle movements. Other name brands include Dysport, Xeomin, and Jeuveau.
The neurotoxin injections use controlled doses of botulinum toxin type A to prevent muscle movements that wrinkle the skin over time. Basically, that means these treatments are used to address wrinkles that develop due to repeated facial movements (sometimes called dynamic wrinkles). When we smile, frown, squint or make other faces, the overlying skin moves with the muscles. As we age, the combination of repeated muscle movement and reduction in collagen and elastin means these lines stop smoothing away after our faces relax. Botulinum toxin injections limit these movements to reduce the development and appearance of dynamic wrinkles and fine lines.
How do Neurotoxins work?
Injections of botulinum toxin temporarily inhibit the nerve cells that signal specific muscles to contract, therefore weakening facial movements that cause fine lines and wrinkles. Once these muscles are weakened, you are still able to make facial expressions; however, they are less exaggerated than before.
The toxin molecule begins to block the connection between the nerves and the muscle within one minute of injection and results will be seen as early as 7 days - the full impact can be seen around 10-14 days. After 3-4 months, neurotoxins will need to be repeated as new nerves sprout connections to the muscles and begin to regain activity. Your body will naturally metabolize the product and begin to break it down over time. As the communication to the muscle begins to come back, any lines and wrinkles that were originally there will begin to reappear.
At what age should I start receiving neurotoxin injections?
In today’s day, neurotoxin injections are being received by individuals of all ages, from millennials all the way to people in their late 60’s. Neurotoxins can be used as a preventative measure by people in their early 20’s to minimize the chance of lines and wrinkles from being “etched” into their skin. If the muscles are treated before fine lines and wrinkles are visible, you will prevent the wear that causes the lines to form in the first place. Others begin receiving injections in their 30’s and 40’s when they begin noticing the signs of aging. Neurotoxins are a great treatment for people of all ages, but the sooner they are started, the greater they are at preventing fine lines and wrinkles from becoming more prominent as the aging process continues.
What Areas Can Neurotoxin Injections Treat?
Neurotoxins best address wrinkles that are directly linked to the movement of facial muscles.
Common areas for neurotoxin treatment include:
Glabellar lines – the frown lines between the eyes that look like a number eleven
Crow’s feet – the wrinkles at the corners of the eyes that can resemble crow foot impressions
Forehead creases – the horizontal lines across the forehead
Lip lines – lines that occur around the mouth
Bunny lines – the wrinkles that develop on the nose
Neurotoxin injections may also be used to address an uneven smile, downturned corners of the mouth, pebbling of the chin, contouring of the lower face and jawline, and neck rejuvenation. It is important to select an experienced injector to apply these more advanced techniques.
Does the Type of Neurotoxin Make a Difference in Treatment?
All types of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved neurotoxin treatments use botulinum toxin type A and many skilled injectors use them interchangeably. Because the differences between the types of neurotoxin treatments are subtle, it’s important to partner with an injector who is knowledgeable about all the intricacies of these treatment options.
Other Uses for Neurotoxin Treatments
In addition to cosmetic uses, there are many other applications for neurotoxin injections, including:
Hyperhidrosis – Excessive sweating that affects the underarms, hands, feet, and face may be treatable with regular neurotoxin injections
Migraines – Many patients have achieved good results from the use of therapeutic neurotoxin injections to reduce the number and severity of migraines. We recommend seeing a neurologist who specializes in migraines.
Muscle spasms – Painful muscle spasms and unconscious movements that cause discomfort can be limited with neurotoxin injections. This could be addressed with a sports medicine physician.
Incontinence – For some bladder control issues, neurotoxin injections can prevent involuntary spasms that lead to incontinence. This can be addressed with your OBGYN or urologist.
Fact or Myth?
MYTH: The best time to schedule a neurotoxin appointment is when my expression lines appear.
FACT: If you can get ahead of the formation of those expression lines, it may help you in the long run. We are seeing an increase in the use of neurotoxins by people who are trying to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Waiting until those expression lines become etched into your skin means it is more difficult to smooth their appearance again.
By starting neurotoxins preventatively, your muscles can actually learn to not make certain expressions that can contribute to the worsening of your fine lines and wrinkles. Preventative measures may actually cause you to need less neurotoxin or need it less often.
MYTH: If I stop having neurotoxin injections, it will make my wrinkles worse.
FACT: Eventually, if you discontinue the use of a neurotoxin, your wrinkles will just return to the way they were before. Neurotoxins will prevent your wrinkles from worsening if you keep up with your treatments. Once you stop, however, you will slowly lose the relaxing effect of the neurotoxin and will resume the normal development of wrinkles.
MYTH: Neurotoxins are only for women.
FACT: We are seeing an increase in men who are asking for neurotoxin treatment as early as in their 30s. Wrinkles can sometimes make men appear angry, not to mention older. Getting a neurotoxin treatment can help to soften up this look and help give men a more approachable appearance, which can help in relationships and business matters.
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