Botulinum toxin is an injectable drug that, in small doses, reversibly prevents muscles from contracting. If muscles are attached to the overlying skin, then long-standing contractions cause wrinkles and lines to form in the skin (such as frown lines and crow’s feet). These wrinkles and lines are usually associated with ageing. Botulinum toxin, when injected into the intricate muscles of the face, causes a relaxation of these muscles and thus a reduction in the skin wrinkles and lines.
Botulinum toxin has been safely used for over 20 years and is easily administered using a very fine needle, causing minimal discomfort. The injection is usually administered in the clinic and patients can resume normal activities immediately. No hospital stay is necessary.
Botulinum toxin has very few side effects and recovery time is immediate. Occasionally, there may be some minor bruising at the sites of injection. Very occasionally the Botulinum toxin may migrate within the muscle and affect neighbouring muscle groups. This can cause droopy eyelids or facial asymmetry. As the Botulinum toxin is always reversible, this complication will settle, but a delay of weeks to months may be seen before full muscle recovery is seen.
The effects of the injections will start within about 3-4 days and patients usually notice that Botulinum toxin lasts for 3 to 6 months. However, this period of efficacy is variable from patient to patient and may increase with repeated Botulinum toxin injections. Therefore, with time, each set of injections may last longer.
Botulinum toxin can be very effective in treating patients with excessive sweating. The injections are placed at the site of excessive sweating (most often the armpits) and remarkable reductions in sweating are seen within days. Most patients notice that the Botulinum toxin treatment lasts for 3 to 6 months.