How Does Botox Work?

The title of this blog post is, as you might expect, one of the most common questions people ask me about Botox.  As you may know, Botox has been used for cosmetic and wrinkle reasons for over 15 years now.

In experienced hands such as mine and those of all of the providers who I have trained in my methods of administering Botox over the years, Botox is not only safe but also highly reliable and predictable in obtaining the cosmetic results desired.  Botox has an exceptional safety record and very high patient satisfaction.

Because every one is unique and different in how they use their muscles, especially on their faces, we here at Maine Laser Skin Care occasionally need to adjust the dosage of Botox administered, or “tweak” the treatment, based on the needs of the individual receiving that treatment.  However, for the most part, dosage adjustments are easily done, and ongoing satisfaction remains high.

When Botox is injected into the desired location, we aim to deposit Botox into the muscle that causes the offending wrinkle, and to that point in that particular muscle where it is the strongest.  Once Botox is into the muscle tissue, it is taken up by an area known as the presynaptic noeuronal terminal.

This terminal is the point where the nerve essentially tells the muscle to contract or move.  Botox blocks the release of a chemical called acetylcholine, which is the chemical signal that tells the muscle when and how much it should contract.

The process of blocking the signals at the nerve-muscle junction takes about 3-4 days after the initial injection of Botox to begin.  The peak effect of this signal blockage is usually within 1-2 weeks, which is also when you begin to see the reduction in the appearance of wrinkles.

For the next 3 months, the muscle treated with Botox becomes non-functional and in its relaxed state.  This muscle relaxation results in a smoothing effect in the treated area as the overlying skin is no longer being folded over repeatedly, which is the origin of wrinkles in the first place.

After that initial 3-month period, the body degrades the effects of the Botox protein and develops new neuromuscular connections.  This process results in the muscle regaining its function again and unfortunately, the return of the wrinkles caused by the muscle contractions.  This is the prime time to have the Botox injections done again.

Since Botox has been used for medical and cosmetic purposes for over several decades, there is no study that has shown any long-term adverse effects of repeated treatments with Botox.  Plus, if Botox is re-administered after the initial treatment has worn off, the effects often last longer with each subsequent injection.  In fact, new studies have shown that repeated Botox treatments not only decrease the severity of wrinkles over time, but that they also can prevent new wrinkles from occurring.

There are several theories about the longer-lasting effects of Botox over time and its role in prevention.  One theory is that if a muscle is blocked from making repeated wrinkling motions, that muscle will be weakened to the point that over time, wrinkles won’t be created again.

Another theory is that by relaxing a specific muscle repeatedly, we are training that muscle not to contract and cause wrinkles.  From my vantage point, the effect of Botox lasting longer is probably because of a combination of these theories.

If you have any questions about Botox or any other cosmetic skin issues, feel free to call us at (207) 873-2158 to ask that nagging question.  You may also call that same number to schedule your next (or even your first) free and confidential consultation.

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