Botulinum Toxin and Facial Fillers
Botulinum toxin injection is the most popular cosmetic medical treatment in the US, and is a favorite among men and women looking for non-surgical facial rejuvenation. Botox® is a brand name for botulinum toxin; other brands include Dysport® and Xeomin®.
Botulinum toxin has a long history in ophthalmology, and most ophthalmologists have many years of experience in its use. Oculofacial plastic surgeons are among the foremost specialists in use of botulinum toxin for lines, wrinkles, and facial reshaping at the eyebrows, jawline, lips, and neck. It has proven to be safe, effective, and economical.
Botulinum toxin is a safe, naturally occurring substance that causes muscle relaxation typically lasting three to four months. In high doses, botulinum toxin will weaken muscles substantially, while in lower doses, the relaxation and weakening are subtle. These effects can be harnessed by your physician to improve frown lines between the brows, crow’s feet at the outer corners of the eyes, horizontal lines in the forehead, and eyebrow height and shape. Botulinum toxin can also be used to treat vertical lip lines, down-turn at the lips, and twitching or spasm of the eyelids, cheeks, and face.
Your physician will review your specific concerns and medical history and advise you about the best uses for botulinum toxin in your situation. It is injected with a tiny needle directly into the muscle(s) causing wrinkles, spasm, or facial aging. Mildly uncomfortable, the injections take only a few seconds. Effects begin to be visible at two to three days and are usually fully evident by one week. Bruising rarely occurs and fades naturally. Improvements in facial appearance and muscle relaxation typically last three to four months.
Facial fillers are also a popular alternative in non-surgical facial rejuvenation. They are sometimes employed alone, but can also be an adjunct to Botox®. Commonly used facial fillers include naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid products like Restylane®, Juvederm®, Hylaform®; as well as synthetic microsphere products like Radiesse®.
Fillers work by safely restoring lost volume under the skin thereby smoothing out wrinkles and sagging from aging. For many years they have often been used to improve the shape and fullness of the lips and creases around the mouth. They also work well to improve contour and fullness at the cheeks, eyebrows, earlobes, and to partially hide dark circles under the eyes. Recent advances in technology have resulted in longer-lasting and more natural improvements than ever before.
Your physician will review your specific concerns and medical history and advise you about the best uses for facial fillers in your situation. Fillers are injected with a tiny needle directly into the area of concern, sometimes with ice, anesthetic cream, or anesthetic block injections to minimize discomfort. Effects are visible immediately, but mild local swelling occurs rapidly and lasts for a few days. Bruising may occur and fades naturally. Improvements in facial appearance last six to eighteen months with hyaluronic acid; shorter with collagen, and longer with synthetic microspheres.
Risks and Complications
Bleeding and infection, which are potential risks with any procedure, are very uncommon. Bruising can occur with any injection. Be sure to tell your surgeon if you are on blood thinners as their use may put you at increased risk for bleeding complications. Botulinum toxin injections can rarely induce weakness in a nearby muscle, causing asymmetry, or a droopy eyelid or lip. To minimize this risk, your physician will recommend that you avoid touching the injected areas for several hours so that the botulinum toxin will bind to the intended muscles only. Facial fillers can also cause asymmetry, and rarely, a local sensitivity reaction.
Your surgeon cannot control all the variables that may impact your final result. The goal is always to improve a patient’s condition but no guarantees or promises can be made for a successful outcome in any surgical procedure. There is always a chance you will not be satisfied with your results and/or that you will need additional treatment. As with any medical decision, there may be other inherent risks or alternatives that should be discussed with your surgeon.