Is it Worth it to Have a Botulinum Toxin Injection?
When you’re considering any elective medical procedure, you need to know the risks, and weigh them against the benefits. The choice of whether or not to have an elective procedure is very personal, and every person will make their choice differently. Here, we’ll discuss the major risks and benefits of having injections of botulinum toxin.
Botulinum toxin, also called botox, is derived from bacteria. It’s a neuromuscular blocking agent, meaning that it causes weakness of muscles by blocking the signals from nerves that cause muscles to contract. Although it has many uses, its cosmetic use is injections into the facial muscles that cause wrinkles to form, so that these muscles stop contracting and creating wrinkles. For more on the procedure for injecting botox, please see Botulinum Toxin: the Procedure and Recovery.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential elective surgery with your own doctor(s), including your primary care physician and the provider who will perform your procedure if you decide to proceed.
There are some risks that can result from the injection of anything under the skin. One risk is the possibility of infection at the site of injection. Cleaning the site before injection and using good sterile technique minimizes this risk, but it’s never zero. Infection could result in a poor aesthetic result and will require antibiotics to treat. Additionally, there is often bruising and swelling near the injection site; this usually resolves within a few days. In rare cases, there could be damage to the skin during injection that results in permanent scarring.
If the botulinum toxin migrates away from the exact spots where it was injected, then it may cause other facial muscles to become weak. This could lead to facial drooping or abnormal facial expressions, and it will take a few months to resolve. The risk that the toxin will migrate can be minimized by not rubbing or massaging the treatment area after your injections. Additionally, there is a very small risk of the toxin migrating away from the face and causing muscle weakness in other parts of the body. This can cause severe problems such as slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and trouble breathing. Fortunately, this is extremely rare with botox injections.
Having a botox injection can also make people feel like they have the flu. There may be a headache, nausea, and other symptoms. Again, this may last for months.
Certain types of wrinkles appear as a result of natural facial expressions. These types of wrinkles include “frown lines” (vertical creases between the eyes), “crow’s feet” (lines radiating outward from the eyes), and horizontal furrows in the forehead. These types of wrinkles can make people look older than they are, and can even make them look tired or angry when they aren’t. People may feel uncomfortable about their appearance, and may suffer social effects from their expression appearing angry or tired. They may want a solution that removes the wrinkles and allows the natural face to return. When injected correctly, botox can cause weakness of the wrinkle-causing muscles without affecting normal facial expressions.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost to have botulinum toxin injected once is $380. This cost varies according to several factors, including how many sites need to be injected, the region, and the particular clinic. You should check with the provider(s) you’re considering to determine the exact cost. Keep in mind that financing is often available. For more detail, visit our Botulinum Toxin Cost page.