Botulinum injections, such as Botox®, Dysport®, Xeomin® and others, are a class of prescription drug made from the Clostridium botulinum bacterium that is used to temporarily paralyze muscle activity. According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, botulinum toxin injections are the most popular minimally invasive cosmetic procedure available.
Recently, these injections have also been recognized in the treatment of chronic headaches and for Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).
What Do These Injections Do?
Botulinum injections are primarily used to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles by blocking signals from your nerves to your muscles, preventing them from contracting. This causes the wrinkles to relax and soften. More specifically, Botox and other similar botulinum treatments are most useful in treating:
- Frown lines between your eyebrows
- Crow’s feet, which are the lines that extend from the corners of your eyes
- Forehead furrows
- Chronic Headaches and TMJ disorders
In the case of non-cosmetic procedures, more recent studies have shown that Botox injections can reduce the frequency of pain associated with chronic headaches or TMJ disorders.
How Is The Procedure Performed?
Administering botulinum injections takes just a few minutes and doesn’t require anesthesia. A numbing medication or cream can be applied to the skin beforehand, if you’re worried about discomfort. Your provider will use a thin needle to inject a small dose into your skin or specific muscles.
Results usually take a few days to appear and will last anywhere from three to 12 months. Maintenance injections are needed if you wish to continue treatment beyond the initial dose.
Some temporary bruising at the injection site is common but beyond that, side effects are rare. They may include headaches, drooping eyelids and a crooked smile. In rare cases the botulinum toxin may spread to other parts of the body and cause problems.
Contact a medical professional right away if you experience muscle weakness, vision problems, trouble speaking or swallowing, breathing difficulties or loss of bladder control.
Botulinum injections can be dangerous if administered improperly, so be sure to choose a skilled and certified provider who is experienced with these injections.
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