Botox What it Is, How It Works, & What You Need To Know

Botox: What You Need To Know About Going Under The Needle


by Grazia |

There's little more divisive in Hollywood (or indeed, in real life) as Botox. Many abhor it, citing it as a face-freezing cheat's way to looking younger, while others advocate that it's a gentler, less invasive way of getting a firmer complexion. Wherever you stand on it, there's no denying there's plenty of confusion around the stuff, and how it works.

For starters, how long does it last? Does it hurt? Is it easy to have 'too much'? To answer all these questions and many, many more, we quizzed leading aesthetic doctor, Dr Terry Loong, on what you really need to know about Botox.

What is Botox? How does Botox work?

Dr Loong told us, "Botox is the trade name for botulinum toxin. It works by blocking the chemical messengers that cause muscles to contract. It can be used to relax muscles, like frown muscles (referred to as glabellar muscles ) or crow's feet (called orbicularis oculi). Medically, it can and has been used for excessive sweating, migraines, squint correction, and even in some cases for hyperactive muscle, like in cerebral palsy."

What happens when you get Botox - does it hurt? Is there bruising?

Botox is less invasive than surgery - but it does still involve needles. "In a cosmetic clinic, Botox is administered using tiny needles - the same needles that are used by diabetics to administer insulin so they are very small," Dr Loong explained. "Most people don't feel any pain while the injection is being administered. They may feel an initial discomfort when the needles goes through the skin, but if the practitioner is quick but gentle, and the patient feels relaxed, they usually don't feel any pain."

"There is minimal downtime: typically there is some initial swelling where the injection points were made but this usually settles after 20-30minutes. With any injections, there is always the risk of bruising and if that happens, it can take up to 5-7 days to clear. Best to avoid alcohol, exercise and blood thinning supplements, like Omega 3 and Vitamin K at least 24 hours before and after the appointment to minimise the bruising."

What kind of skin does it work on?

"In a cosmetic clinic, someone who has dynamic wrinkles - which are wrinkles that occur when moving the muscles, like frowning or smiling."

Who shouldn’t have Botox?

Not everyone is suitable for Botox: as Dr Loong explained, "Anyone who suffers from muscle weakness, is on antibiotics, was previously allergic to Botox or has no lines on muscle contraction isn't a good candidate."

What are the results of Botox?

The results can be pretty varied: "It depends on how much Botox is used and which muscle is being treated," Dr Loong noted. "The ideal effect that most of my patients are looking for is natural, subtle softening of the lines rather than a frozen look. Patients describe looking less tired, less angry and just like they've had a bit more sleep or been on a much deserved holiday."

How can women avoid that ‘frozen face’ look?

Turns out, the natural look is both an art and a science. Dr Loong revealed, "You won't get a frozen look by not having too much Botox injected in the muscles and also having the right muscle groups injected by the practitioner. That comes with experience and technical expertise, but also artistic skill in the part of the practitioner."

How long does it last?

Don't expect immediate results: "It takes up to 2 weeks for the Botox to take effect. On average the effects last between 3-4 months. If someone is a Botox virgin, effects might last 2-3 months and for some patients, effects may last up to 6 months. The long-lasting effect actually is due to the muscle relaxing enough that it breaks the habit of consistent hypercontraction. The Botox breaks down after a few months", explained Dr Loong.

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