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What You Should Know About Botox

Botox is a purified protein, derived from bacteria, that relaxes muscles. Botox has been approved by the FDA for treatment of spasm around the eye, muscle imbalances of the neck, eye wandering, and recently, wrinkles in the forehead. Botox has been safely used for treating various other medical conditions since 1989, including spasticity, myofascial pain, headache, back pain, neck pain, and overactive sweat glands.

What is a Botox treatment?

Treatments will take a few minutes. A fine needle is used to inject Botox directly into the muscles that are overactive or painful. When these muscles are relaxed with Botox, pain may diminish, and overactive muscles can become weak. At times, an electromyographic machine is used to ensure that Botox is placed directly into the muscle.

What results can a patient expect and how soon will the effects begin?

Botox begins working within 10-14 days, and the results usually last from three to four months. Some patients have noted up to six months, relief. Patients who have had successful treatment are also involved with physical therapy to help stretch and strengthen other muscles that may contribute to the main problem.

Are there any risks involved?

Commonly, there may be slight swelling or bruising at the injection site as well as pain. Other side effects can include local numbness or a burning sensation during injection, temporary headache, and nausea. Most of the complications are short term and can be avoided with proper injection techniques. Ibuprofen and ice packs can usually reduce the initial pain.

Rarely, is there excessive relaxation of the muscle; however, the effects of Botox, if over-relaxation occurs, is completely reversible over time. Another potential side effect is a "flu-like syndrome" that may develop over three to five days but usually resolves itself with no medication or treatment required.

Plastic surgeons, dermatologists, physiatrists, anesthesiologists, ophthalmologists, and pain management physicians have been using Botox since 1989 to treat eye-muscle disorders and muscle spasticity. More than 855,000 Americans got Botox injections last year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, making it the most popular nonsurgical procedure.

How is it prepared?

Botulinum toxin is mixed with saline or a local anesthetic and then injected into the muscle using a small needle. Between five and 10 injections may be needed. The patient is usually asked to contract the muscle in the area that is being treated, so that the physician can determine the location to be injected.

Is Botox expensive?

Expense in reference to an aesthetic cosmetic treatment is a personal decision. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of Botox, if there appears to be a rational use for it. It may not be approved in some cases, and thus the cost to try this medication may be between $800-$1600. Many patients find Botox to be an excellent value, considering that it achieves amazing results: reduced pain, extended careers, and a more fulfilling life.