Botox: Frequently Asked Questions

You may think the wrinkle reducer Botox is only for celebrities, but soccer moms, your friends, and neighbors could easily be among the millions of people regularly getting the treatment. When injected by a highly qualified medical provider, Botox provides a natural look that is undetectable, leaving you with a refreshed, rested appearance. 

Botox has a RealSelf Worth It Rating in the upper 90s, and is one of the most popular non-surgical treatments on the site. Like many people considering Botox to fight wrinkles, you probably have a lot of questions. We drew on the expertise of doctors to bring you the answers to the most frequently asked ones.


In this overview:

What is Botox?
Is right for me?
How much does it cost?
How do I choose a surgeon?
How should I prepare for this procedure?
What happens on the day of the procedure?
What’s the recovery time?
What results can I expect?
What are the possible side effects or risks?
What else do I need to know?


What is Botox?

Botox is a cosmetic treatment designed to relax muscles and reduce lines and wrinkles on your face. Some wrinkles and lines are caused by overactive muscles. Botox relaxes these muscles, allowing for fewer unwanted expressions.

Scientifically, Botox is one of the Botulinum type A injections, with other brands Dysport and Xeomin producing similar results. FDA approved, Botox is also the most common cosmetic procedure in the U.S., according to Dr. Harold Kaplan, a Los Angeles facial plastic surgeon, in this RealSelf Q&A.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Andrei Metelitsa
Photo courtesy of Dr. Houtan Chaboki
Photo courtesy of Dr. Amy Taub
Photo courtesy of Dr. Quenby Erickson
Photo courtesy of Dr. Michael Law
*Treatment results may vary

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Is Botox right for me?

If you are on the attack against wrinkles, whether treating existing lines or preventing new ones, Botox is a secret weapon. The injectable is primarily used to treat frown lines, forehead creases, and crow’s feet, but is also used in other areas, including lips, lower face, neck, and even downturned smiles.

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How much does Botox cost?

The cost of Botox will depend on the treatment area and how much of the injection is required. Doctors either charge per unit of Botox or by treatment area. Most doctors charge between $10 and $20 per unit. Treatment for your forehead will likely require between 20 and 30 units. Botox to treat crow’s feet might only require 10 units.

If Botox is too inexpensive, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger, an Omaha dermatologic surgeon, it might be a sign that the original product has been diluted. Dr. Schlessinger said many spas or doctors’ offices that offer Botox at $7 to $9 per unit might be diluting it and giving a less effective and possibly dangerous dosage. If the Botox price quoted to you seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

Some doctors charge by treatment area. Dr. Omeed Memar, a dermatologic surgeon in Chicago, says his office charges a flat fee of $300. This is unusual, however.

Your cost will also depend on the experience level of your Botox provider. A plastic surgeon's practice may charge more than a medispa. The average cost of Botox is $550 based on more than 5,000 reviews from RealSelf community members.

*Treatment results may vary

               

Dr. Jennifer Reichel discusses the cost of Botox and what factors affect price.


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How do I choose a Botox provider?

Finding an experienced Botox provider to administer your injection will help ensure the best result. The procedure may not seem as complex as major surgery, but it still requires knowledge, skill, and precision.

“Botox isn't quite as simple as just putting it into you,” Dr. Schlessinger said. “It takes skill and technique to get really good results.”

There isn’t a shortage of choices, with some gynecologists, dentists, aestheticians, and others offering Botox treatment. Some may be experienced and highly skilled, but that is unlikely. It is best to go with high-quality provider with a several solid reviews over a less expensive person who may be just learning or has poor technique. Visiting a board-certified surgeon or a highly qualified dermatologist could lead to better results.

“You have only one face and Botox effects, the good ones and the complications, can last for four months so it's better get the qualified injector,” Toronto plastic surgeon Dr. Marc DuPéré said in a RealSelf Q&A.

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How should I prepare for Botox?

Go over the details of the procedure with your doctor. You should know how many units will be injected and the cost per unit. Cover every detail before your injection to make sure there are no surprises after.

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What happens on the day of Botox?

The day of your Botox treatment likely won’t be very different from any other day. It will be similar to going to your family doctor to receive a shot. Your Botox provider will make a series of injections in the desired area(s).

Then you are on your way.

*Treatment results may vary

               

Dr. Jason Emer demonstrates the Botox injection process.

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What’s the recovery time?

You should be able to resume normal activity immediately after your injections are done. You might have some redness or slight bruising after, but it should dissipate quickly.

Doctors recommend patients do not lie down for at least four hours following injections to prevent any possible migration to unintended areas of your face. They also suggest avoiding vigorous activity, especially those activities that might involve straining or bending down for at least a few hours and up to a day. You should not rub the area aggressively or get a facial massage for at least 48 hours after your injection.

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What results can I expect from Botox?

The procedure should reduce the wrinkles and lines in your face, giving you a more youthful look.

Although Botox produces results, it isn’t the fountain of youth. The results last roughly three to four months before wearing off. At that point, you need another round of injections to maintain the results. Sometimes, individuals see results lasting longer, but this is usually due to the fact that muscles have been trained to frown and the Botox puts them at rest.

Many people see results within four to five days, but it could take up to two weeks for full results to show. Deep wrinkles should show improvement shortly after treatment and could continue to gradually improve over time, Dr. Mark Lucarelli said in a RealSelf Q&A.

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What are the possible side effects or risks?

If injected properly, Botox side effects should be minor. Some patients experience bruising or redness immediately after the injection. Those effects should last for only a couple of hours. This can be minimized by holding pressure over the areas injected if a bruise or immediate swelling occurs.

Others reported getting headaches following injections. In a RealSelf Q&A, Dr. Melissa Chiang, a Houston dermatologic surgeon, said headaches from Botox are a rare side effect that should resolve within 24 hours.

“Simply put, it is as safe, or safer, than many drugs that people already use daily,” facial plastic surgeon Dr. Reginald Rice said in a RealSelf Q&A. “You can't eliminate all risks of any medical device or procedure, but the chance of you individually getting a serious side effect is exceedingly small.”

Some potential Botox complications result from a poor injection or an incorrect dosage. If the injection is done incorrectly, Botox could unintentionally diffuse into other areas and cause drooping eyelids, a crooked smile, crooked eyebrows, or similar complications. If too much Botox is injected, you could be left with a frozen look.

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What else do I need to know about Botox?

What are the treatments for a bad Botox injection?

If you are unhappy with your Botox result, the good news is it isn’t permanent. The bad news is the only real solution is time. The results will gradually disappear, but the process will likely take three to four months. There are drops that may help with droopy eyelids, or ptosis. Your doctor can advise if this is right for you.

Can I get Botox while pregnant or breastfeeding?

Doctors do not recommend Botox while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

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This guide has been reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Joel Schlessinger, a dermatologic surgeon from Omaha, Neb. Dr. Schlessinger is a board-certified by the American Board of Dermatology and American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery in Cosmetic Dermatology.


Disclaimer: This content is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare professional. Your reliance on any information or content provided in the guide is solely at your own risk. You should always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare professional for any questions you have about your own medical condition. RealSelf does not endorse or recommend any specific content, procedure, product, opinion, healthcare professional, or any other material or information in this guide or anywhere on this website.

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