What is BOTOX?

Botulinum toxin, more commonly known as Botox®, is one of the most important facial fillers to hit cosmetic plastic surgery. It irons out wrinkles and lines in aging faces to improve overall appearance. Botox is an injectable substance used medically to treat various muscular conditions as well as cosmetically to reduce or remove facial wrinkles. It is a prescription medicine injected into certain muscles that when contracted cause your skin to fold and wrinkle. Botox® temporarily reduces the activity of those muscles to reduce this skin furrowing and rejuvenate your facial features.

In particular, Botulinum toxin can be used to treat:

  • Skin bands on the neck
  • Forehead furrows
  • Crow’s feet
  • Frown lines

All of our facial expressions every day (like smiling, frowning, and chewing our food) will eventually lead to wrinkling, one of the most common signs of aging. One of the best ways to achieve a more youthful look is by reducing these wrinkles, and a quick, safe way to do this is with Botox injections.

If you are in the Chicago area and are interested in Botox, set up a consultation with plastic surgeon Dr. John Kim at his office at Northwestern Plastic Surgery.

How does Botox work?

Botox is a neurotoxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. This material blocks the signals that normally tell you muscles to contract. When these signals are blocked, the muscles will not contract and thus will not reveal underlying wrinkles. When you opt to have Botox, Dr. Kim will choose specific muscles to inject with a thin needle, and he will base his procedure on your specific skin type, skin thickness, and the degree of wrinkling on your face. Typically, Dr. Kim will perform 2-3 injections on crow’s feet wrinkles, whereas brow furrows between your eyes could take five or more. Typically, the procedure itself takes about 15 minutes and does not require anesthesia or any post-procedure down time for recovery.

Although you are able to resume normal activities immediately after injection, you may experience minimal side effects. These may include some pain, swelling, or bruising at the injection site. You may also experience headache or mild flu-like symptoms like upset stomach.

Botox may be combined with other cosmetic skin procedures like chemical peels, microdermabrasion, or other dermal fillers to further improve the aesthetics of your face. A combination of therapies can help prevent the formation of new lines and wrinkles over time. It is important to note that Botox is not indicated for reversing sun damage and is only a temporary way to reduce fine facial lines and wrinkles.

How long do Botox results last?

Results from your Botox procedure may appear within a few days, but typically the full effects can be seen within one week. This facial rejuvenation procedure typically lasts about 3-4 months. When its effects begin to face, your muscles begin to respond normally to facial movements, causing the wrinkles to resurface. Thus, since Botox is a temporary treatment, you will need to establish a regular treatment plan with Dr. Kim in order to maintain your beautiful results.

To optimize the results of your Botox procedure, you must commit to taking good care of your face. The best ways to do this include maintaining good skin care and leading an active, healthy daily lifestyle. Sun exposure is a detriment to your face and to the beautifying effects of Botox, so be sure to apply SPF year round while minimizing sun exposure with clothing and hats.

Botox vs. Dermal Fillers 

Botox vs. dermal fillers Chicago

Botox and dermal fillers both smooth wrinkles, but the way they accomplish a younger appearance is vastly different. Botox reduces wrinkles by relaxing muscles, causing visible skin creases, while dermal fillers add volume with hyaluronic acid or other biocompatible substances.

Botox is a neuromodulator, which means the injectable disrupts or stops the transmission of nerve impulses and immobilizes the muscle temporarily. Neuromodulators, such as Botox, use a neurotoxin called botulinum toxin to weaken the muscle, causing the tissue to relax in the days following Botox treatment. The overlying skin smooths over because the muscle is not moving as much. These types of wrinkles are called dynamic wrinkles and are commonly found around the outer edges of your eyes, between your eyebrows, and across your forehead. Botox also serves medical purposes, improving an overactive bladder, TMJ pain, migraine attacks, and other health conditions.

Dermal fillers offer strictly cosmetic improvements and do not affect the muscles or nerves. These injectables “add” to the skin to plump up hollow areas, such as the cheeks, lips, and under-eyes, and fill in static wrinkles. Static wrinkles appear when the face is relaxed and are caused by the loss of collagen and elasticity with age, not muscle movement.

Essentially, dermal fillers “fill in” the skin, while Botox targets the cause of dynamic wrinkles by freezing the muscle underneath the facial wrinkles. Botox results take a few days to two weeks to take full effect, while dermal fillers typically offer instant results.

Botox FAQs

What does Botox do?

It temporarily reduces muscle contractions that cause fine lines and wrinkles. Botox is injected directly into the muscles that cause the wrinkles.

Who can get Botox?

You are a good candidate for Botox if you are between the ages of 18 and 65. You are not a good candidate if you have an infection at the injection site, are allergic to any Botox ingredients, have a disease of your muscles or nerves, have had previous facial surgery or plan on it in the future, or are pregnant or lactating. Be sure to address your health history and all concerns with Dr. Kim at your consultation.

What are the benefits of Botox?

Botox is a minimally invasive cosmetic treatment that is an effective alternative to surgical treatment. This type of facial injection necessitates zero downtime and the treatments are quick Dr. Kim can perform this procedure in as little as 15 minutes. There is minimal pain and discomfort with the likelihood of mild side effects. Your results will be noticeable just a few days after just one session.

What will the procedure be like?

The injection itself will be done by Dr. Kim in just a few short minutes. Many times, patients do not feel the tiny injection at all. The needle is very thin and injects only very small amounts of Botox into the relevant muscles. The depth and location of your wrinkles will determine exactly how many Botox injections Dr. Kim will need to do.

Are there risks associated with Botox?

As is the case with any aesthetic procedure, Botox has potential risks, including numbness, temporary eyelid droop, bruising, nausea, headache, and flu-like symptoms.

Is there a recovery period?

There is very little recovery or downtime necessary after Botox treatment. You may resume normal daily activities when you leave Dr. Kim’s downtown Chicago office.

When can I expect to see my results?

Your results will begin to appear in as little as 3 or as many as 10 days. You should see wrinkle improvement in about 1 week after your injections. Improvement may continue over time for up to one month.

How long will my Botox results last?

Over three to five months, the treated muscles will gradually regain their normal movements. At that time, a simple repeat treatment is all that is necessary to maintain your beautiful results. Results vary among individual patients, but most commonly Botox injections will last three to four months.

Are there side effects with Botox injection treatment?

Some patients experience minimal side effects after treatment. This can include mild discomfort, swelling, tenderness, and redness, infection, bruising, or bleeding at or near the injection site. Some patients experience flu-like symptoms, including headache and nausea. There is also the possibility of temporarily facial drooping and weakness.

Can Botox help my migraine attacks?

Botox is FDA-approved for chronic migraines. This neuromodulator can help men and women who experience 15 or more migraine attacks per month. The more frequent you have these attacks, the more pain relief you may achieve with Botox for headaches. Botox for migraines is injected around the pain fibers connected to head pain. The neurotoxin enters the nerve endings and blocks the release of chemicals that activate the pain networks in the brain. Botox may prevent migraine attacks before they start, and results build over time, with patients experiencing fewer headaches after their second or third treatment session.

How much does Botox cost?

Chicago botox treatment

The cost of Botox changes depending on the treated area, provider, and location. Botox is priced by the cost per unit, so someone treating deep forehead lines will likely pay less for their Botox treatment than someone looking for the Botox “lip flip.” The average price range for Botox in the forehead ranges from $250 to $1,500. Some providers offer discounts or rewards programs for regular Botox patients because maintenance sessions are necessary to keep the wrinkles at bay.

Can I combine Botox with other injectables or procedures?

Botox and dermal fillers can complement each other. If you have crow’s feet around your eyes and acne scars on your cheeks or deep marionette lines, Botox and a dermal filler can work together to provide a smoother facial profile. Dr. Kim offers the “liquid facelift,” which combines several injectables to address signs of aging without invasive surgery.

Facelift patients may wish to have Botox to address lines and wrinkles between their brows, on their forehead, or around their eyes because the facelift procedure focuses on the mid-face and jawline.