Botox and dermal fillers are cosmetic treatments given through injections, usually in a doctor's office. They are minimally invasive, meaning they do not involve surgery. That is where their similarities end, however.
Botox is a purified form of the botulinum toxin that is obtained from bacteria. Though it is deadly in larger amounts, the tiny, regulated amount of Botox given to correct wrinkles has been used safely for decades.
Botox works by blocking nerve signals in the muscles where it is injected. When those nerve signals are interrupted, the affected muscle is temporarily paralyzed or frozen. Without movement of these selected muscles in the face, certain wrinkles may be softened, reduced, or even removed.
Botox and other treatments made with botulinum toxin are sometimes called neuromodulators or neurotoxins.
Treatments made with botulinum toxin are sold under the brand names Botox Cosmetic, Dysport, and Xeomin.
Botox only works on wrinkles that are caused by muscle movement. These are known as dynamic wrinkles, and are often called "expression lines."
The most common dynamic wrinkles that Botox can treat are lines on the upper face, such as the "11" between the brows, horizontal lines on the forehead, and crow's feet around the eyes. These lines are caused by smiling, frowning, squinting, and other facial expressions.
Botox will not work on fine lines and wrinkles caused by sagging or loss of plumpness in the face. These are known as static wrinkles. Static wrinkles include lines in the cheeks, neck, and jowl areas.
Botox is not a permanent treatment. Repeated treatments are necessary for continued wrinkle-reducing effects. Most people find that the muscle-relaxing effect of Botox lasts for 3 to 4 months.
The ASPS considers Botox to be safe, and 6.7 million procedures were performed in 2015. As Botox wears off over time, most side effects are only temporary.
Possible side effects of Botox include:
The treatment may also fail to work due to antibodies that fight the toxin. This happens in less than 1 percent of people who have repeated Botox treatments, however.
The ASPS advise people not to rub or massage the area of the injection after having Botox treatment. This could spread the toxin to surrounding skin, causing muscle drooping and other problems.
The average cost of a Botox injection is $385, according to 2016 statistics from the ASPS.
Dermal fillers, sometimes called soft tissue fillers, are substances designed to be injected beneath the surface of the skin to add volume and fullness.
Substances used in dermal fillers include:
Each one of these is designed to treat different signs of aging or other cosmetic issues.
The time they take to work, as well as how long they last, also vary. Some fillers last 6 months, while others last up to 2 years or longer.
People should discuss their individual needs and expectations with their doctor to determine what filler would be the best choice for them.
Different types of dermal fillers are designed to treat varying signs of aging. Depending on the filler selected, they may:
Static wrinkles include those around the mouth and along the cheeks. These wrinkles are usually a result of a loss of collagen and elasticity in the skin.