A Scare-Free Halloween Guide to Neurotoxins for Beginners

October 29, 2020

Woman receiving neurotoxin injections

Botox, Dysport, Xeomin, and Jeuveau rely on precise injections of a neurotoxin to improve the appearance of skin. It may sound frightening to inject a neurotoxin into your body, but these treatments are actually proven to safely create or maintain a healthier, more youthful appearance of the skin. According to Dr. Amanda Champlain of U.S. Dermatology Partners’ Center for Aesthetic and Laser Medicine in Carrollton, Texas, “When Botox Cosmetic was first introduced in 2002, people were not sure about purposely exposing themselves to neurotoxins. It sounded a little scary. Also, early practitioners weren’t always experts in applying these treatments, which could result in that frozen face appearance that people still associate with these treatments. But now, after nearly twenty years on the market, dermatologists have the experience to deliver good results with neurotoxin injections and people don’t have to be scared.” Keep reading to learn more about how Dr. Champlain and other dermatologists provide safe and scare-free neurotoxin injections for Halloween and all year round.

What are Neurotoxin Injections?

In the U.S., we have a tendency to associate products with brand names, and for many people, the brand name Botox is synonymous with neurotoxin injections. However, this is only one of the multiple available brands and types of neurotoxin injections available that limit voluntary muscle movements to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Other name brands include Dysport, Xeomin, and Jeuveau, and a dermatologist can help you select the best one for your needs.

The neurotoxin injections use controlled doses of botulinum toxin type A to prevent muscle movements that wrinkle the skin over time. That means these treatments are used to address wrinkles that develop due to repeated facial movements (sometimes called dynamic wrinkles). When we smile, frown, squint, or make other faces, the overlying skin moves with the muscles.  As we age, the combination of repeated muscle movement and reduction in collagen and elastin means these lines stop smoothing away after our faces relax. Botulinum toxin injections limit these movements to reduce the development and appearance of dynamic wrinkles and fine lines.

Dr. Champlain says, “While there’s no reason to be fearful of receiving neurotoxin injections, the development of these treatments does sound a little like a mad-scientist, Halloween story.  The cosmetic uses of botulinum toxin injections were discovered accidentally while using these substances to control involuntary muscle movements of the eye called blepharospasm.  It was noticed that people who received these treatments also had reduced appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. They realized that, when used to target the right muscle groups, neurotoxin injections could actually prevent these movements from leading to wrinkles.”

How do Neurotoxin Injections Work?

To describe how neurotoxin injections work, Dr. Champlain says, “The way that injectable treatments prevent and reduce the appearance of dynamic wrinkles is by stopping the motion that causes them. The injected substance interferes with the signal between the nerve and the muscle to reduce the muscle motion.”  In high doses without precise application, the neurotoxin could be very dangerous.  However, when harnessed for therapeutic or cosmetic procedures, they can be safely and beneficially applied to reduce specific muscle movements. To stop these movements, a small amount of neurotoxin is injected directly into the targeted muscle groups. The relaxed muscles lead to skin that looks smoother and more youthful for about three to four months until the effect is lost.

What Areas Can Neurotoxin Injections Treat?

Neurotoxins best address wrinkles that are directly linked to the movement of facial muscles.  Common areas for neurotoxin treatment include:

  • Glabellar lines – the frown lines between the eyes that look like a number eleven
  • Crow’s feet – the wrinkles at the corners of the eyes that can resemble crow foot impressions
  • Forehead creases – the horizontal lines across the forehead
  • Lip lines – lines that occur around the mouth
  • Bunny lines – the wrinkles that develop on the nose

Neurotoxin injections may also be used to address an uneven smile, downturned corners of the mouth, pebbling of the chin, contouring of the lower face and jawline, and neck rejuvenation.  It is important to select an experienced injector to apply these more advanced techniques.    Neurotoxin injections are not usually recommended for lines that are caused by loss of volume in the face and sagging skin, such as the nasolabial folds (smile lines), marionette lines, and jowls.

Does the Type of Neurotoxin Make a Difference in Treatment?

All types of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved neurotoxin treatments use botulinum toxin type A and many skilled injectors use them interchangeably.  Because the differences between the types of neurotoxin treatments are subtle, it’s important to partner with a skilled, board-certified dermatologist who is knowledgeable about all the intricacies of these treatment options.

When Should I Start Neurotoxin Treatment?

Typically patients in their 40s and older are seeking neurotoxin treatments, though it has become increasingly more common to see patients in their 20s and 30s who are interested in not only treating early, fine lines but also preventing future wrinkles.

Why should I Visit a Board-Certified Dermatologist for Neurotoxin Injections?

According to Dr. Champlain, “These days, you can get neurotoxin injections from just about any medical professional or at your local medi-spa. Some of these practitioners do good work, but the dermatologists and team at U.S. Dermatology Partners have the foundation of specialized knowledge about skin health that ensures we can safely and accurately administer the best treatment option for your unique needs. Working with a dermatologist ensures the person who administers your injectable treatments knows exactly what results you should expect before they get started.”

Getting Started with a Cosmetic Dermatology Consultation

Before your dermatologist provides any neurotoxin treatment, they’ll ask that you schedule a consultation visit. During this initial appointment, the dermatologist will examine your skin, discuss your goals, and help you choose the right treatment options. Your dermatologist will also want to review your health history to ensure you have no conditions that will negatively impact the way neurotoxin injections work. Depending on your concerns, we may recommend combining your injectable treatments with other cosmetic procedures like dermal fillers or laser therapies to achieve the ideal final results.

What to Expect on the Day of Treatment

The neurotoxin injection treatment visit is quick and comfortable. We’ll use an extremely fine-gauge needle to ensure we’re able to administer the neurotoxin with minimal discomfort. The injection site is precisely determined to pinpoint specific muscle groups, and we’ll quickly inject the neurotoxin in the predetermined locations. Most side effects are very mild, including skin redness and minor inflammation that will clear up after a few hours in most people. Some patients experience a mild headache after the procedure that then resolves.

Your Results & Maintenance Visits

The onset of neurotoxin will vary by type used, ranging from a few days to a week.  Maximal effect is typically seen at 2 weeks after treatment.  During your treatment planning visit, your dermatologist will discuss how often you should consider retreatment to maintain your results for the long term. For most people, that means having maintenance treatments three or four times each year. However, some early indications from new research suggest that individuals who begin receiving neurotoxin injections to prevent the development of fine lines and wrinkles, starting in their late twenties or early thirties, may actually be able to train their facial muscles to remain relaxed. That means they may be able to maintain their results with less frequent retreatments once each year or every 15 months.

Other Uses for Neurotoxin Treatments

In addition to cosmetic uses, there are many other applications for neurotoxin injections, including:

  • Hyperhidrosis – Excessive sweating that affects the underarms, hands, feet, and face may be treatable with regular neurotoxin injections
  • Migraines – Many patients have achieved good results from the use of therapeutic neurotoxin injections to reduce the number and severity of migraines
  • Muscle spasms – Painful muscle spasms and unconscious movements that cause discomfort can be limited with neurotoxin injections
  • Incontinence – For some bladder control issues, neurotoxin injections can prevent involuntary spasms that lead to incontinence.

Visit U.S. Dermatology Partners for Neurotoxin Injections

If you’re interested in learning more about neurotoxin injections and whether or not they’re the right cosmetic dermatology treatment for you, contact a U.S. Dermatology Partners location near you. You can request a cosmetic dermatology consultation, using our simple online scheduling form. We look forward to hearing from you.

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