The Truth about Botox: Common Myths Debunked

Of all the anti-aging and dermal filler products out there, Botox is perhaps the most well-known of all; you would be hard-pressed these days to find someone who doesn’t know what it is. Despite its popularity, however, there are a lot of misconceptions among the general public about the risks and side effects involved with Botox—that it’s dangerous, that it can damage or alter your features, that once you start you can’t stop . . . the list goes on.

Today, I’ll do my best to distinguish fact from fiction by debunking some of the most common myths I hear from patients. So, without further ado:

Myth: Botox is Dangerous

Botox is incredibly safe—as long as it’s administered by a trained professional. Yes, it is derived from botulinum toxin, which in high doses could do serious damage to the central nervous system, but Botox contains such a low dose of the toxin—and is applied to such limited areas of the body—that as long as you go to a physician with expertise in giving Botox injections (and you shouldn’t be going to anyone who isn’t!), the risk involved is negligible.

If the FDA’s approval of the product isn’t enough for you, consider this: more than 2.8 million Botox procedures are performed annually without any reported significant side effects. Pretty good odds, right?

Myth: Botox Will Freeze Your Face

Botox works by blocking nerve impulses to the muscles being targeted (thereby keeping the muscles from contracting, which is what causes those wrinkles and furrows in your face that make you look tired or aged)—but it does not “freeze” your entire face. We use tiny needles to target very, very specific muscles in the face when we administer Botox, pinpointing the muscles creating your wrinkles while leaving the rest fully functioning. As long as your Botox injections are administered by an experienced practitioner, there should be no “frozen” effect—your facial expressions should be just as natural-looking after treatment as they were before it.

Myth: Botox is Permanent

Much to many patients’ disappointment, Botox is nowhere near permanent: in fact, that effects generally only last for three to six months before fading away.  This wearing-off occurs because of the natural turnover of your body: the toxin binds to the receptors of the muscles that exist when treatment is administered, but eventually those muscles form new receptors, and muscle activity returns.

Myth: Botox Treatments are Painful

I’m not going to tell you that Botox injections feel good—but it’s a bit of a stretch to call them “painful.” Because of the tiny size of the needle utilized for the treatments, and the fact that they don’t go very far into the skin, the discomfort involved is minimal. Most patients say the injections feel like a mosquito bite. For those patients with particularly low pain thresholds, icing or applying numbing cream to the area beforehand can take care of the issue.

Myth: Botox is Addictive

Since Botox lasts for an average of three to six months, it is a treatment that requires periodic follow-ups; perhaps that’s where this rumor started—people saw their friends going back again and again for the treatments, and they thought it was because they were addicted. The truth is, people may keep coming back for more Botox injections, but it’s not because there’s anything addictive about the product itself—it’s just because they’re happy with the results it produces!

Hopefully I’ve managed to address any misconceptions that you may have held about Botox today—but if you have any further questions, feel free to give us a call here at the San Francisco Plastic Surgery & Laser Center and set up a free consultation!