What are BOTOX® injections?
A BOTOX® injection refers to the administration of the botulinum toxin, also known as onabotulinumtoxinA, to muscle tissue. The toxin that is used is actually isolated from a microorganism that causes botulism, a form of food poisoning. A serious complication that may occur due to botulism is paralysis. However, when the botulinum toxin is injected in the proper amount to specific areas of the body, it temporarily relaxes muscles and can be used to treat some pain conditions.
Initially, BOTOX® injections were used for strabismus (lazy eye), blepharospasm (uncontrolled blinking), and cervical dystonia (neck spasms). Its use was later approved for the reduction of wrinkles in the face, and this is now the most common use of BOTOX® injections.
BOTOX® injections have also proven to be useful for additional conditions such as:
How BOTOX® injections work
BOTOX® injections work by blocking the signal transmission of nerves that are responsible for muscle contractions, causing the targeted muscles to relax temporarily. Some individuals feel the effects of the injection almost immediately, while others may begin to experience relief three to ten days after receiving the injection.
How long do the effects last?
According to most patients, the effects usually last for several months. Some have reported effects that persisted for three to four months, and others experienced the health benefits for up to six months.
How often do you need to get the injections?
When BOTOX® is used cosmetically for purposes such as the reduction of wrinkles in the face, one to two injections are usually administered. For chronic conditions such as persistent headaches, however, people usually need to receive several injections into the targeted region every couple of months in order to experience long-term effects.
Are there risks associated with BOTOX injections?
Side effects that may occur after a BOTOX® injection include bruising, bleeding, swelling, and burning sensations at the injection site, flu-like symptoms, blurred vision, and tingling in the upper extremities. In addition, ptosis (eyelids that droop) may temporarily occur when the injections are for migraines or headaches.
If the needle is not inserted into the right location, the medication may be administered to surrounding tissue and cause additional side effects such as a crooked smile, raised eyebrows, and excessive tearing or dry eyes. Allergic reactions may cause itching, rashes, and welts.
In very rare cases, the botulinum toxin may spread to untargeted regions of the body, and this may cause serious complications such as muscle weakness throughout the entire body, visual impairments, trouble swallowing, speaking, or breathing, or a loss of bladder control.
These types of problems require immediate medical attention.