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 and dermal filler treatments are popular, accounting for more than 9 million procedures in 2015, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
Botox contains purified bacteria that freeze muscles. In doing so, Botox can help minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles caused by facial expressions.
Dermal fillers contain ingredients that add fullness to areas that have thinned due to aging. This thinning is common in the cheeks, lips, and around the mouth.
People should be aware of the costs and risks of treatments and have realistic expectations of what they can do.
What is Botox?
Botox may help to correct dynamic wrinkles, such as crow’s feet around the eyes and horizontal lines on the forehead.
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.
What can Botox correct?
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.
Botox side effects and considerations
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:
drooping of the eyelid or brow if injected near the eye
weakness or paralysis of nearby muscles
hives, rashes, or itching
pain, bleeding, bruising, swelling, numbness, or redness
trouble swallowing, speaking, or breathing
blurry vision or vision problems