Healthy Skin

Abigail James’ guide to botox

The rapid rise of Botox makes it a much talked-about treatment in any skincare clinic. Derived from natural bacterium, it came from the medical world to the beauty salon. Here’s everything you need to know, according to our columnist Abigail James…

What is Botox?

Botox is a neurotoxin derived from Clostridium botulinum, a muscle-paralysing bacterium found in soil, that can cause potentially fatal food poisoning if ingested via the gut. A dilute form is used within the cosmetic industry to temporarily paralyse muscles to smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also used for a number of medical conditions, including relief for excessive sweating, migraines and muscular disorders. Botox has been used in the medical world for more than 40 years, and despite being a localised injection of a bacteria, it’s considered to be very safe. ‘Baby botox’ is a term used to refer to a smaller amount used to give a less frozen-faced look.

Where is Botox used?

The most common areas of the face to be treated are the forehead, frown lines above the top of the nose (known as ‘number 11 lines’) and crow’s feet around the eyes. More specialised areas can also be treated, such as the nose to prevent upturn, mouth area to correct a lopsided smile, and neck to reduce crepiness.

How long does Botox take?

Treatment is quick, with an appointment taking 20-30 minutes for a full consultation and actual injection time taking just five minutes. The cost is per area treated; a forehead, for example, might need to be treated in two to three areas to achieve a balanced look, rather than focusing on one area of frown lines.

How much does Botox cost?

The cost of botox varies depending on the clinic, location and number of areas treated, but expect to pay £150 to £350.

Does Botox hurt?

The injections are not painful, but expect a pin-prick senseation. Immediately post-treatment there can be blood spots, which will wipe away, and the treated areas can look like insect bites for an hour or so. Inexpert hands can result in a heavy brow look or an altered brow arch – either being flattened or too high and ‘surprised’ looking. When crow’s feet and eye areas are treated you can get a slightly fake pillowy look that takes three to four weeks to soften. The effects usually become visible four to seven days after treatment and a good practitioner will offer a complimentary follow-up and tweak, two weeks later.

Does it work?

Botox can absolutely make a face look fresher. The effects wear off after three to four months, but while it is not a permanent option, cosmetic surgeons say that regular paralysing of the muscles that lead to skin wrinkling can help prevent fine lines and furrows from forming. This makes it a good way to prevent visible skin ageing.

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