Every Question You’ve Ever Asked about Botox, Answered

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botox guide
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The biggest buzzword in beauty? Botox. Whether you’re for or against it, you’ve tried it or haven’t, there’s no denying that you can’t escape it. It’s everywhere. And it’s not only A-listers injecting their faces with the stuff, it’s regular women all around the world. In fact, Botox is getting so big that in 2018, 7.4 million Botox procedures were performed in the US alone – a whopping 845 percent increase from 2000.

Why? Because, simply said, we want to look younger. “The number one concern for many of my patients is aging,” explains Dr. Marwa Ali, Resident Aesthetic Doctor at The Wellness Clinic, Harrods. “With modern living comes a hectic lifestyle that can take its toll on our body and physical appearance. High stress levels, lack of sleep, exposure to pollution, and our obsession with blue screens – plus poor diet and exercise – can all play a role in how fast we age, as can our genetic predisposition. For those who want to consider a non-invasive solution, injectables are one option. When used correctly, Botox can have a profound effect in the fight against aging.”

But, do you actually know what Botox is, what it was originally used for, or the risks involved?  Yes, Botox might have become ‘normal’, super accessible, and more affordable than ever, but there’s a lot you need to consider before taking the plunge. “I’m often asked many interesting questions about Botox,” reveals Dr. Ali. “It’s essential for anyone who is interested in embarking on any Botox treatments to be well-informed now more than ever as we live in an age where there is so much access to inaccurate information online. Botox is a medical treatment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.” So, on that note, let’s ask Dr. Ali every question you’ve ever had about Botox – and then some.

Dr Marwa Ali Botox
Photo: Courtesy of Harrods Wellness

What is Botox?
Botox is a FDA-approved brand of Botulinum toxin that is produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. The toxin is known for its ability to cause muscle paralysis, otherwise known as botulism. Scientists found that when Botox is injected in diluted form in small quantities, the Botulinum toxin has the ability to relax the muscles.

When was it originally developed, and why?
Botox was FDA-approved in the 1980s and originally found to have a positive effect on blepharospasm, a condition recognized for excessive blinking. Having been approved for cosmetic use, Botox can be injected superficially into specific muscles using a very fine needle to effectively diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles at the skin’s surface. It works to temporarily relax the muscle that is causing the wrinkles, and inhibits it from contracting.

If administered correctly, Botox can prevent and slow down the aging process. Administered in the right quantities and managed with care, the results of Botox will remain very natural. With the desired result reached, your friends may notice that you look well-rested and youthful, but will not be able to tell you’ve had treatment.

Are there different types of Botox?
There are two main types of Botulinum toxin: type A and type B. Type A is most commonly used and the most popular brands include: Botox, Vistabel, Dysport, Azzalure, Zeomin, and Bocouture. If a patient does respond to type A Botox, which is a very rare occurrence, then Type B is used, such as Neurobloc. You may have heard of the treatment ‘Baby Botox’. This is a treatment that just uses a smaller quantity of Botox to guarantee the most natural-looking results.

What can Botox be used for?
There is a long list of medical ailments that can be treated with Botox, from involuntary muscle spasms on the face and neck to disability in the hands, excessive twitching, excessive sweating, and severe migraines or cluster headaches.

For cosmetic benefit, Botox can be injected to treat visible wrinkles and fine lines and crow’s feet around the eye contour, forehead and frown lines, bunny lines, smoker’s lines, or across the jaw and neck for the Nefertiti neck lift. It can also be used to treat facial flushing (rosacea) and treatment-resistant acne in its diluted form.

guide to botox
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

Is it safe?
When considering Botox, you should first have a consultation with a recommended aesthetic doctor or medical professional. Do your homework and come to your consultation with all your questions well-prepared. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not have Botox, neither should those with a neurological disease or an allergy to albumin. It is important to tell the doctor whether you have any allergies or are taking any medication as this may affect treatment. Botox has been used medically and cosmetically for many years, and is safe when used correctly.

What are the risks?
As with all procedures, there are some risks that need to be considered. The most common risks associated with all injectables include redness, swelling, pain, or bruising that may occur where the Botox has been injected. These symptoms are very short-lived.

Infection is also a risk when there is any break to the skin – or penetration of the needle, in this case. But if the site is cleaned prior to injection and kept clean, and the patient does not have an immunosuppressive disorder, this risk is extremely low. Other risks include a headache as a symptom of treatment, which tends to subside one to two days post-treatment. Like all medications, a patient may be allergic to Botox, though it’s extremely rare.

Does it hurt?
Botox is injected using a very fine needle and, in rare cases, a numbing cream can be applied before treatment, but the majority of treatments are performed with little to no discomfort and no downtime.

What does having Botox involve?
During the procedure, a medical professional will administer Botox to the desired area using a very fine needle. The Botox works by blocking the signal from the nerve to the muscles or effectively causing temporary paralysis to the muscle. This short-term paralysis means that the muscle is unable to contract, which is the cause of the lines and wrinkles that appear at the skin’s surface.

dr marwa ali botox guide
Photo: Courtesy of @Dr_MarwaAli

What’s the aftercare process?
It’s best to avoid anti-inflammatory medication before treatment. After treatment, the patient is advised to keep their head upright and not touch the treated area; this is to ensure the Botox is not displaced. Rigorous exercise, direct massage to the treated area, and sauna/steam rooms should be avoided for 24 hours.

How long until I see results?
The effects of the Botox can be witnessed between four to 14 days post-treatment.

Will I lose the ability to move my face?
When treated correctly, the desired muscles will be relaxed, meaning you ought to retain mobility in the face. A telltale sign of too much Botox is the lack of mobility, particularly visible in the upper face around the eyes and eyebrows – this is often referred to as ‘frozen forehead’ or ‘frozen face’.

What if I don’t like the effect? Can I reverse it?
If you’re unhappy with the result of your Botox, it is important to voice your concerns to your medical practitioner at the follow-up appointment. They will then be able to talk you through your options.

How long does it last?
The effects of Botox last between three to six months. After this time frame, patients may see the return of some wrinkles at the skin’s surface and may wish to have further treatment. With a succession of treatments, the muscles are trained to relax, and less treatment will be necessary. In these cases, small amounts of Botox will be used as more of a maintenance tool.

guide to botox
Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

Who should use Botox?
Botox should be used in subtle measures to treat the causes of aging. My patients vary in age, and each patient differs from the next and requires a bespoke approach.

Does it damage the skin?
Using needles with such a minute surface area means there should be no damage to the skin.

How often should you get it done?
The effects of Botox can last for six months. In order to maintain your results, keep the dialogue open with your aesthetic doctor. Some patients may only need a couple of visits per year, and others may require more. What is most important is to choose a medical practitioner who you feel comfortable with, who listens to your specific concerns, and who can create a tailored anti-aging program that is just for you.

What mistakes do women make with Botox?
The most common mistake is to overdo it! I believe that Botox works best when administered little by little. It can always be topped up to achieve the desired result, but it is more difficult when too much has been injected. With the natural beauty trend, the ‘less is more’ approach is more desirable.

Can I book in with anyone who offers Botox?
Botox should be administered by a medically trained, qualified, licensed, and insured practitioner. Make sure you do your research to ensure the injector has the correct credentials and experience, and operates from a reputable and permanent establishment so that they may be reachable post-treatment if you have any concerns.

To book an appointment with Dr. Marwa Ali, call (+44) 020 7225 5678 or e-mail thewellnessclinic@harrods.com

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