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The True Cost And Long Term Effects Of Botox

Last updated: May 27, 2022

If you’ve been to a dermatologist or spa, chances are you’ve seen brochures and advertisements for Botox. Botox is a widely popular cosmetic procedure, with nearly 3 million injections worldwide per year. It is used for both therapeutic and cosmetic purposes, with popular treatments including lessening fine lines and wrinkles and reducing the effects of migraines.

However, there is little research available on the long-term effects of Botox, since it’s only been on the market for cosmetic purposes since 2002. While small doses have been deemed safe by the FDA, studies show that Botox can have negative side effects and potential serious consequences. There are also many “bargain” products on the market that are not regulated by the FDA, which could cause harm. Overall, it’s important to consult with your doctor first before receiving this cosmetic procedure and to understand how it works.

What is Botox?

Botox is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures used to treat fine lines, wrinkles, and a variety of medical conditions. It is an injectable drug made from a toxin called botulinum type A, produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulinum is the same toxin that causes botulism, a dangerous infection often caused by food poisoning that attacks the body’s muscles and nerves. You might then ask, how is Botox safe? When injected in very small doses for cosmetic and medical purposes, this toxin is considered safe by the FDA. Millions of patients around the world have had success with Botox treatments.

Botox works by targeting very specific muscle areas to block nerve signals, which prevents muscles from contracting. This results in the muscles relaxing, which is why it’s effective in treating crow’s feet, forehead wrinkles, and fine lines around the mouth.

Botox is also used for a variety of medical conditions to help ease and relax trigger points in the body. These conditions include:

  • Chronic migraines
  • Overactive bladder
  • Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  • Neck spasms
  • Eye twitching
  • Dystonia
  • Spasticity from strokes or multiple sclerosis
  • Other neurological disorders

Innotox vs Botox

With the popularity of Botox on the rise, many other companies have created their own brand of this injectable drug. Innotox is a South Korean product used to smooth wrinkles on the face. However, it is not approved by the FDA in the United States. Innotox is a more diluted version of Botox, so typically you have to get more product injected for similar results.

Jeuveau vs Botox

Jeuveau uses pureed botulinum to achieve similar results as Botox by relaxing small muscle groups. However, Jeuveau is more recent to the market and was only approved in 2019 by the FDA. Currently, Jeauveau is only approved to ease frown lines between the eyebrows, and is not approved to be used for medical conditions. It is hard to say which is better than the other, since no formal studies have been done to compare the two. Jeuveau vs Botox units are similar prices and have similar results, but Botox can be used in more areas.

Juvederm vs Botox

Also known as “filler”, Juvéderm is a completely different product than Botox made with hyaluronic acid. While Botox temporarily relaxes muscles, Juvéderm adds volume to the skin by filling in lines and wrinkles. It’s also used to plump lips and cheeks, and to contour the face (such as jawline filler). Many people prefer Juvéderm because it works faster (Botox can take up to 2 weeks for full results to appear) and lasts longer. It is slightly more expensive, but because it lasts longer you’ll probably end up paying about the same as you would with regular Botox.

Microneedling vs Botox

Microneedling is a vastly different procedure than Botox or fillers like Juvéderm that does not involve injectables. Instead, a dermatologist uses tiny, sterilized needles to prick the skin. This stimulates the production of collagen and elastin during the healing process to help add volume to and smooth out the skin. Microneedling is an effective treatment that is more natural than Botox, since it does not use any toxins. However, the healing process takes time and may cause redness and peeling.

How much is Botox?

Botox is not inexpensive, especially if you are getting repeated treatments. The average cost of Botox in the United States is $230 to $555, but this can vary by state. The cost largely depends on the area of treatment and how many units you need. You’ll typically receive 20 to 40 units per session (each unit is $10 to $15). If you’re getting Botox 3 or 4 times per year, this can add up to a few thousand dollars. If you’re ever concerned about the price, it’s not wise to go with a “bargain” pricing from clinics who may be using a cheaper version of Botox, or do not have the same professional standards as doctors’ offices.

What are the long term side effects of Botox?

Unfortunately, little is known about the long-term side effects of Botox, simply because it has not been on the market enough for lengthy studies. However, there are proven adverse side effects that have been documented, and some shorter-term studies suggest that long-term, repeated injections can be harmful.

A 2015 study that aimed to study widespread use and increased doses of botulinum toxin cited serious adverse effects including:

  • Dysphagia
  • Respiratory issues
  • General muscle weakness
  • Necrotizing fasciitis
  • Pseudoaneurysm
  • Sarcoidal granuloma

These side effects were pulled from various reporting systems, retrospective studies, and case reports. While the data pulled was from a variety of different reports and included a relatively low amount of patients experiencing these issues, there’s still a chance that many adverse effects go unreported. Additionally, in many cases these adverse effects were present with other diseases, so it can be difficult to say if Botox was the original cause.

In a 2005 clinical trial with 45 participants who regularly received Botox injections, there were 20 cases of adverse side effects in 16 patients including drooping eyelid, neck weakness, nausea, blurred vision, heart palpitations, and difficulty chewing and swallowing.

Adverse effects are more common in repeated therapeutic use, since the Botox dosage is usually 4x higher than cosmetic use. The frequency for negative side effects is 33x higher in therapeutic use cases.

FAQs

Can I still move my forehead after Botox?

Botox temporarily relaxes the forehead muscles, which might impair your ability to move your forehead. You may have a “frozen” type of feeling that limits how much you furrow or lift your brows. Over time, this sensation lessens as the Botox wears off.

In what states can an RN inject Botox?

Currently, all states allow licensed physicians, physician assistants, and registered nurses to inject Botox. However, many states have individual regulations and restrictions, so it’s important to check based on your location.

How long does Botox last?

Botox typically lasts up to 4 months, but you may see results start to lessen after 2 months. It depends how much dosage you receive and how your body responds. Because Botox is temporary, it requires repeated injections to maintain appearance.


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