Injecting a powerful poison into your face doesn’t sound terribly inviting. Yet, the once prohibitive cost of having cosmetic anti-wrinkle injections keeps is increasingly affordable. Why? Because the demand for varying degrees of facial paralysis and plumping is on the rise.
To be fair, anti-wrinkle injectables are not all as dire as I’ve made it sound. Many women and men alike are enjoying the youthful results of non-surgical injectable skin solutions to blur ageing skin into a more youthful appearance.
As with any clinical procedure that violates your physical body, research and knowledge is critical to minimise risks. Botulinum toxin and dermal fillers seem to be on offer everywhere, and aren’t necessarily performed by registered medical practitioners.
Here is a snapshot of what you need to know to balance the risks of anti-wrinkle injectables and dermal fillers, with the benefits.
What is Botox?
In friendly marketing terms, Botox or botulinum toxin will be sold to you as a ‘natural purified protein’. Botulinum toxin is actually a neurotoxin produced by a bacterium. Yes, the bacterium occurs naturally in the environment, but it is powerful and must be used with caution. A neurotoxin is a poison that causes damage to nerve tissue.
Targeted Botox injections are used beyond looking good, and have given relief to many people suffering from debilitating muscular conditions too. Some conditions treated with Botox include bladder weakness, excessive sweating, palsy and chronic migraines.
Botox is one brand of anti-wrinkle injectable skin solutions, and perhaps the one you’ll be most familiar with.
For cosmetic results, injections of Botox under facial skin work to target and relax muscles. This gives way to skin that has a smoother, rejuvenated look. The injections work to smooth moderate to deep wrinkles because the way we use our facial muscles are what cause the deeper lines in the first place.
Your initial consultation with your practitioner will determine the number of injections, and where based on the look you both agree is achievable.
What are the benefits of Botox injections?
In consultation with your practitioner you can determine your level of ‘smooth’. You can aim for a natural, light relaxation of key facial muscles right through to total facial paralysis (you may want to avoid the latter)!
You’ll benefit from:
- smoother, reduced or eradicated facial lines and wrinkles – a more youthful appearance.
- Being in and out quicker than a trip to the hairdresser
- Only feeling minor discomfort akin to the sting of a small ant
- the increasing affordability.
Note: because it is the relaxation of the facial muscles that make repetitive movements that develop lines, it can take a week or so to see the full results as the ‘creases fall out’.
What are the risks or side effects of Botox injections?
The risks can be minimised, and we talk about this in the last section of this article. However, it is important to be aware of the following potential side effects, including:
- Eyelid droop
- Swelling where the needle went in
- A feeling of numbness or tingling.
And the more dire risk is if the Botox spreads away from the targeted areas. This situation can cause problems with paralysis of other muscles that impact breathing, speaking and swallowing.
What is a temporary dermal filler?
Rather than helping facial creases drop out by paralysing frequently used muscles for a smoother appearance, dermal fillers are more of a shaping solution where soft tissue impersonators like collagen or hyaluronic acids are injected to ‘fill’ or ‘plump up’ targeted areas.
You could liken the difference between botox and dermal fillers – to a bed sheet. The Botox solution is where you smooth out the bed sheet wrinkles by fixing the fitted sheet corners in place so the sheet can’t move much; whereas a dermal filler is where you’d stick a doona under the sheet to smooth out the creases, and plump up some areas more than others.
The filler itself can be either natural or synthetic. Collagen, for example, can come from hoofed animals, or be made in a laboratory. There are also options to transfer some of your own fat, depending on an assessment by your medical practitioner.
What are the benefits of temporary dermal fillers?
After an initial consultation, your practitioner will come up with a filler plan to achieve the results you’ve both agreed are achievable.
- Fillers can give volume to an ageing face, lifting areas that were once plumper in your youth – or that you always wished were fuller in volume.
- Cheeks, lips, upper eyelids and brows, nose, chins (plural intended!) and mouth corners are popular areas for plumping.
- Dermal fillers require less frequent maintenance than Botox injections, lasting between 6 months and 18 months.
What are the risks or side effects of dermal fillers?
The risks can be minimised, and we talk about this in the last section of this article. However it is important to be aware of the following potential side effects. You may find:
- the injections hurt more than the ‘small ant bite’ of a Botox injection
- you suffer an allergic reaction to the filler
And, according to a Choice magazine article, the more dire risk is that you could actually lose skin if the practitioner accidentally injects the filler into your blood vessels!
What can you do to manage the risks of injectable cosmetic procedures?
- Ask for recommendations from trusted friends or colleagues, of qualified or medically supervised, practitioners.
- Choose a qualified medical doctor that specialises in dermatological non-surgical injectable procedures.
- Once you’ve found a qualified medical doctor, or a medically supervised practitioner, ask lots of questions before going ahead with the procedure. Questions you need to ask include:
- What medical qualifications do you have, and can I see them?
- How long have you been working with injectables?
- Can you show me some photographic examples of your work, and walk me through how the treatment was applied – such as how many injections to achieve the results, and how often does the client have to come back to maintain the results.
- For the solution/s I’m looking at, walk me through the process from the initial treatment through to follow up treatments.
- Could you put a treatment plan, in writing, including a breakdown of the costs?
Now it’s up to you to decide if the look of youth is worth the research and money.
References and links to more information
Disclaimer: the author is not a qualified practitioner in any way, shape or form so please consult your medical practitioner or dermatologist for expert advice.