How Does Botox Work?

what means does botox use to get rid of wrinkles?

Doctor Answers 21

Botulinum Toxin Type A (Botox Cosmetic) is a protein...

Botulinum Toxin Type A (Botox Cosmetic) is a protein complex produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which contains the same toxin that causes food poisoning.

When used in a medical setting as an injectable form of sterile, purified botulinum toxin, small doses block the release of a chemical called acetylcholine by nerve cells that signal muscle contraction. By selectively interfering with the underlying muscles' ability to contract, existing frown lines are smoothed out and, in most cases, are nearly invisible in a week.

The medication takes 48 to 72 hours to take effect and can be expected to last about 3 months, though individual results vary and additional injections may be necessary to get desired results.

Botox was first approved in 1989 to treat two eye muscle disorders - uncontrollable blinking (blepharospasm) and misaligned eyes (strabismus). In 2000, the toxin was approved to treat a neurological movement disorder that causes severe neck and shoulder contractions, known as cervical dystonia. As an unusual side effect of the eye disorder treatment, doctors observed that Botox softened the vertical frown (glabellar) lines between the eyebrows that tend to make people look tired, angry or displeased.

In early 2002, Allergan performed studies to show a decrease in these frown lines for up to 120 days which satisifed the FDA. The agency granted an indication for temporary improvement in the appearance of moderate to severe glabellar lines associated with corrugator and/or procerus muscle activity in adult patients < 65 years of age for Botox Cosmetic.

In 2004, Botox received an additional indication for the treatment of severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis (armpit sweating) that is inadequately managed with topical agents.

While these are the only FDA indicated uses of Botox, Botox has been used to treat "crow's feet" and other areas of wrinkling in the face. Though no controlled studies have shown the safety and efficacy of Botox when used in these applications, hundreds of applications have proven out the efficacy.

Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Have a question? Ask a doctor

BOTOX injections are a simple and non-surgical...

BOTOX® injections are a simple and non-surgical procedure whereby very low doses of a natural purified protein are placed into specific muscles, which relaxes the muscles and prevents contraction.

The actual mechanism of action is by blocking or reducing the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is required in order for the muscle to contract. Without acetylcholine, the muscle will not contract. If the muscle doesn't contract, then it won't be able to pull the attached, overylying skin into creases which would result on your face as wrinkles.

Jonathan Hoenig, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

How Botox Works

Botox is a substance produced by a bacterium called Clostridium Botulinum. The drug works by weakening the muscles that cause wrinkles. After injection, the muscle gradually relaxes, and the lines diminish substantially or completely disappear.

How does BoTox work?

BoTox, and all forms of Botulinum Toxin A, work by blocking the reuptake of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction. By doing so, it inhibits transmission of signals from one neuron to the next at whichever junction it is working on (e.g., neuro junction, sweat gland junction, etc.) The duration of BoTox is typically 3-4 months on average. It can take up to 7 days for it to take effect. Thank you for the question! Hope this helps!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

How Does Botox Work

Botox works by blocking the release of Acetylcholine from the nerves that cause muscles to contract. The balance of the push-pull of the facial muscles is achieved by selectively injecting the Botox into the proper muscles.   This gives a smoother appearance to facial wrinkles by controlling the contraction of the muscles of the face.

Thomas Guillot, MD
Baton Rouge Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

How Does Botox Work

Botox works by causing paralysis of the facial muscles. This works in two ways. First, it causes the muscles of the face to not contract and softens the appearance of static wrinkles. Secondly, it prevents the formation of new wrinkles by lessening the pull of the muscles on the skin (dynamic wrinkles).  Botox achieves its full effect by 2 weeks post injection and lasts for 3 – 4 months.  After a regular schedule of injections the effect will appear sooner and last longer.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Botox and how it works

Think of this product as a temporary roadblock.  When Botox is injected into a muscle it is taken up into the nerve that activates the muscle.  When the brain signals the muscle to contract, such as a frown, the message is never received and the muscle stays relaxed.  This leads to a softening of the overlying skin and reduction of existing wrinkles or prevention of a wrinkle from ever forming!

Lori Stetler, MD
Dallas Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Botox works by inhibiting muscle contracture

On our faces we have both dynamic and static wrinkles.  Static wrinkles are ones that are present when we are not making a facial expression.  These are present when our faces are totally relaxed.  In contrast, dynamic wrinkles are present when we are contracting our facial muscles.  These include "frown lines" and "smile lines".  Botox works by preventing the muscles that cause these wrinkles from contracting.

How Botox affects wrinkles

Botox does not act directly on the skin wrinkles but rather muscles of facial expression which cause the wrinkles. Botox temporarily blocks nerves from communicating with the muscle resulting in relaxation. Muscles have a resting tone, which means that even when they're not activated there is some level of tightness at rest. When the muscles maximally relax with Botox, the overlying skin smooths out resulting in less prominent wrinkles.

Michael Baroody, MD
Danbury Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

How Botox works

Botox is a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Botulinum. A neurotoxin is a chemical which inhibits the function of a nerve.

When your brain stimulates a muscle to move, it does so by having the nerve at that muscle release a chemical called acetylcholine. This chemical attaches to the muscle and the muscle then moves. Over time, the movement of the muscle can cause wrinkles in the skin overlying that muscle. What botox does is block the release of acetylcholine. When the nerve doesn't release acetylcholine, the muscle does not move. Over time, the wrinkles in the skin can go away because the muscle that caused them in the first place cannot move.

Botox usually takes 3-7 days to take effect after administration and lasts for about 6 months.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.