Is Botox Safe for Long-Term Use?

Botox has become synonymous with anti-aging cosmetic treatments, offering many aesthetic benefits for users of this injectable. While millions of Botox injections are administered every year in the U.S., there are many people who are still skeptical of this treatment for long-term use. Understanding what Botox is and how it works is important when considering the safety and effectiveness of Botox for repeated use.

Origins of Botox

One of the reasons some people may worry about Botox safety is where the product originated. The neurotoxin that is used in Botox is derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium is what can cause botulism, which is a very serious and lethal food poisoning. This bacterium was identified in the 1920s and the neurotoxins produced by C. botulinum were studied throughout the following decades.

The neurotoxin that is in Botox is botulinum toxin type A. Extensive studies were conducted on this and other neurotoxins in C. botulinum, revealing the effects on humans. The neurotoxin was identified to cause a temporary paralyzing effect on muscles when it was introduced to the human body. While this can be deadly when in larger doses, botulinum toxin A or BTX-A isolated and purified had potential as a medication in small doses.

Botulinum toxin type A works by interrupting the nerve signals to muscles. By blocking receptors in the nerves of a muscle, it paralyzes it and stops it from contracting. This could be deadly if large doses are injected into the muscles that control breathing or heart rate, but in targeted, small doses into smaller muscles, the effect can be beneficial.

The first medical use of BTX-A was for controlling muscle spasms and cross-eyes (strabismus). The crystallized, purified form of BTX-A was studied on monkeys in the 1970s, then moved to human trials in the 1980s. In 1989, BTX-A was approved by the FDA for the treatment of strabismus. The pharmaceutical company Allergen bought the rights to BTX-A after its FDA approval and renamed it Botox.

Since its first FDA approval, Botox has been approved for many medical and cosmetic treatments. It is used to treat migraines, cerebral palsy, cervical dystonia, urinary incontinence, hyperhidrosis and many other medical conditions. It is best known for its cosmetic treatments of glabellar lines (frown lines), crow’s feet, gummy smiles and many other aesthetic benefits.

Safety of Botox Cosmetic Treatment

The history of Botox can sound scary, but the medication has been proven safe in its purified form when used as directed. The tiny doses of Botox that are given in cosmetic treatments are much smaller than the doses that are used for medical treatments – the targeted muscles are smaller and require very little neurotoxin to be relaxed. The neurotoxin does not travel through the bloodstream or move to other muscles in the tiny doses that are used for cosmetic purposes.

Botox was FDA-approved for the treatment of glabellar lines (11s) in 2002. Since then, millions of people have had Botox injections to soften worry and frown lines, as well as smooth crow’s feet and other cosmetic treatments. The tiny doses of BTX-A do not spread to other parts of the body – they are absorbed into the targeted muscle and nerves and do not travel throughout the body. The proteins in Botox stay within the area and eventually break down into harmless amino acids that are absorbed by the body.

Cosmetic treatments of Botox typically use less than 100 units. To be potentially toxic and able to travel systematically through the body, a dose of over 2,500 units would be needed. Like most medications, Botox is safe when used correctly – even aspirin can be deadly if too large a dose is used. If you receive your Botox treatments from a medical professional that is trained on how to safely administer this cosmetic, it is a very safe treatment.

Long-Term Use of Botox

There are many people that have been using Botox for decades. Even before it was FDA approved for cosmetic use, it was already being used off-label for reducing frown and worry lines on the forehead. As previously discussed, the molecules in the BTX-A proteins break down in the body. When you have Botox injections for frown lines or a “lip flip,” the relaxation effects on the muscle only last 3-4 months. The protein is absorbed and not stored in the body, so when you have another treatment, the previous BTX-A in the muscle is gone.

Using Botox long-term in cosmetic doses is considered very safe. Many younger people are now using Botox treatments in very tiny doses to prevent wrinkles from appearing. Treatments are usually performed a few times a year, targeting specific muscles that cause creases in the skin.  There is no evidence that using Botox long-term has any negative impacts on health or appearance.

What Happens If You Stop Using Botox?

It has been established that Botox is safe, especially when used in tiny doses for cosmetic treatment. One of the other concerns for many patients is whether they will suddenly look different if they stop using Botox or if the effects are no longer noticeable. When Botox breaks down and it is no longer affecting the targeted muscle, it will begin to contract again. If you had treatment for frown lines, you would begin to notice the furrows in the brow returning as Botox wears off. It will not happen overnight, but those lines and wrinkles will return.

Some people do become resistant to the effects of Botox and may have better results from a different neuromodulator. There are other cosmetic injections that can be used for relaxing muscles within the face if Botox no longer has the same effect. Dysport, Xeomin and Jeuveau are also derivatives of botulinum toxin A and may offer better results for those who cannot use Botox.

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Safe Botox Treatments in Phoenix, AZ

At Arcadia Wellness Center, we have a highly qualified team of cosmetic and medical professionals that perform our Botox injections. We use the minimum dose needed to achieve the desired effect for our patients. Our advanced techniques deliver tiny doses of Botox precisely to the targeted muscle for excellent results. We offer Botox injections for a variety of aesthetic treatments, including:

  •         Frown and worry lines on the brow
  •         Gummy smiles
  •         Lip flips – increasing the fullness of the upper lip
  •         Reduce bunny lines on the nose
  •         Masseter reduction (jaw slimming)
  •         Smooth crow’s feet
  •         Smooth neck cords and lines

Our nurse cosmetic injectors are very accurate and produce beautiful results for our patients. For those who want to use a different neuromodulator than Botox, we also offer Dysport injections. Patients can begin to see the effects of our neuromodulator injections a few days after their treatment. To maintain their results, Botox or Dysport injections need to be repeated in about four months as the neurotoxin wears off.

If you have been considering Botox cosmetic treatment but were concerned about its safety, you do not need to worry. Botox injections are performed millions of times every year and many people have been enjoying the benefits for decades. At Arcadia Wellness Center, we have experienced nurse cosmetic injectors performing our Botox treatments for beautiful results. Contact our clinic in Phoenix, AZ to schedule your Botox consultation or treatment.