Why you should not be afraid of Botox side effects

Kelly Vasileiadou
13. May 2022
Don’t feel like a rabbit in front of a snake: Botox side effects are rare when used correctly, yet Botox treatment of facial wrinkles is undoubtedly the most common treatment in aesthetic medicine today. I treat about 20 patients a week with Botox. While some patients come to me for the so-called “lunch break treatment”, a large proportion of patients book an appointment with doubts and fear of the “snake venom that paralyzes the muscles”.

The truth about Botox

  • Botox is not a poison (it is the quantity that makes the poison.).
  • The active ingredient does not come from a snake.
  • It does not cause permanent paralysis in the muscles.

I was repeatedly confronted with false facts by my patients. The fear of Botox side effects is enormous, also because unfortunately there are still many false facts about Botox treatments in circulation. Therefore, I decided to address these fears and concerns with this article.

Smoothing wrinkles with botulinum toxin

What is Botox?

From infected sausages to modern research

To be honest, I really don’t know where the myth of the snake venom comes from. Neither do I find a reference to this “urban legend” in the search in relevant journals, nor does Dr. Google help me with this question.

Fact: The first medical observation of botulinum toxin (Botox) dates back to 1820. At that time, many guests at a party in Germany experienced paralysis of the lower limbs after eating infected sausages. This observation prompted Dr. Emile Pierre Van Ermengen. The Belgian scientist was able to isolate the bacterium under a microscope. He discovered that it produced a toxin and named it Clostridium botulinum.

First medical applications of botulinum toxin

Following studies of the toxin’s effects, Dr. Scott, an ophthalmologist, first used botulinum toxin in 1978 to treat strabismus (squint) in young children with spectacular results. Following the success of his treatment, he conducted numerous studies on the substance, which he published in the journal Transactions of the American Ophthalmological Society in 1981. As a result, botulinum toxin was patented as a safe drug.

In 1988, the pharmacological company “Allergan” acquired the rights to continue research and the drug “Botulinum toxin type A” was approved by the FDA for the treatment of eyelid spasms and strabismus. At that time, Allergan changed the name of the drug to “Botox”, which quickly became known worldwide.

Since then, Botox has been an approved drug for the treatment of muscular problems (e.g., muscle dystonia), and very effectively treats hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and, of course, wrinkles.

The drug botulinum toxin has the ability to act on neuromuscular synapses and cause muscle relaxation. However, relaxation does not mean paralysis. And because I often see in my consultations that people are frightened when they hear paralysis, I would like to say that the effect of the drug in the muscle has a limited, controlled effect and duration. Then, if the treatment is performed by a specialized aesthetic doctor, complications are extremely rare.

Simply put, wrinkle treatment with Botox has excellent results with minimal downtime and side effects.

So Botox doesn’t pose any dangers?

It is not quite that simple. Botulinum toxin is a prescription drug that belongs only in the hands of specialists. There are risks associated with Botox that are related to improper use. So what makes Botox treatment absolutely safe and successful?

1. Do not be afraid of a “frozen face”.

Before each treatment, I analyze the anatomy of your face, paying special attention to your natural facial expressions. This way I can treat wrinkles without affecting the natural expression of your face. Botox side effects in the form of “plastic faces” without facial expressions are probably the biggest fear of patients. You may have seen such pictures (google “Nicole Kidman Botox”), because such results appear in the media again and again. However, they do not belong to the results of serious aesthetic medicine.

2. Botulinum toxin corrects the so-called expression wrinkles.

These appear on the forehead, between the eyebrows or around the eyes when we frown, raise our eyebrows or smile. If there are already stable or fixed wrinkles in these areas, they are greatly smoothed with Botox. However, they may need to be retreated with fillers.

3. When does Botox work and for how long?

The effect of Botox starts immediately, but it takes time for the existing wrinkles to smooth out. Please do not expect that one treatment will permanently rid you of wrinkles. Botulinum toxin is broken down by the body. That is, it gradually loses its effect.
The manufacturers of the drug claim 6 full months. But in my experience, the first wrinkles start to reappear after 4 months. After 5-6 months they are back. For this reason, it is important to plan continuous treatments at intervals of 6 months. Only in this way, you will achieve a permanent reduction of your wrinkles.

4. Please smile!

To objectively assess results, I photograph the three typical facial expressions of anger, laughter and raised eyebrows before and after treatment.

Side effects of Botox: Don’t be afraid of Frozen Face

5. Beware of cheap Botox treatments

I only use products that are approved in Switzerland. Everything else is illegal. Period! There are currently five botulinum toxin products that are approved for wrinkle therapy in our country. Botox, Vistabel, Bocouture, Azzalure and Dysport.

The price of these products on the market also determines the price of the treatment. Therefore, you should be careful if you are offered a very cheap Botox treatment. Often, in such a case, you can not rely on the origin of the drug. Or it can happen to you to be treated with a diluted product. In addition, you should only be treated by a specialist. Only a doctor can act quickly and correctly in the event of a complication.

6. There are no secret Botox tricks

The drug is injected according to a special treatment protocol established in 2013 after extensive studies in aesthetic medicine. In practice, this means that the treatment is performed with a specific dosage and at specific injection sites to avoid side effects or overdoses.
This Botox injection technique is therefore standardized. In application, however, side effects can then occur with Botox if there is insufficient anatomical knowledge.

7. Rule out Botox hazards and inadequate dosing through follow-up

Trust is good, control is better. Ten to fifteen days after the treatment, the results are checked. If some wrinkles have not been sufficiently corrected, I may need to inject some more. This is often due to the muscles being stronger on one side of the face. This may require a slightly higher dose to relax that muscle area. During follow-up, I can correct and document such phenomena. So with each subsequent treatment, I know in advance how much each side needs. These follow-up visits are of course free of charge for you.

Wrinkle examination

The earlier, the less, the better

I would like to point out one fact in particular: Wrinkles are best treated at an initial stage. The earlier you start, the better the result, the less time and money you have to invest. Continuity instead of hectic reactions, so to speak.

When a wrinkle becomes deep, it almost always needs to be treated with fillers after Botox treatment to achieve better results. Studies show that patients who started Botox treatments at a young age have significantly fewer deep wrinkles by the age of 60.

Do you have more questions about Botox side effects or risks?

Do not hesitate and make an appointment for a consultation. I will be happy to answer your questions. I will also analyze your face and develop a proposal for your individual treatment plan. This is tailored to your very individual situation, to your physiognomy and to the results you desire.

About Dr. Kelly

Dr. Kelly Vasileiadou

Specialist FMH for Surgery
Beauty is not perfection. Refining your face or body image to enhance or restore your natural beauty – that is my mission. Your trust commits me to providing you with excellent medicine and exceptional care. My team and I work tirelessly to satisfy you. That’s what I stand for with my name.

Schedule your appointment with Dr. Kelly® today.

Before you decide on a treatment, you have the great opportunity for a personal consultation. Our goal is to care for you not only medically, but also from person to person.

Dr. Kelly® | Aesthetic Surgery and Medicine
by Dr. Kelly Vasileiadou

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