The best part of Botox is people saying that you look great, but they can’t put their finger as to why. When administered effectively, you’ll look like a brighter, smoother version of yourself, but not plastic-y. To prevent looking frozen, Dr. Tutela says to make sure your dermatologist or plastic surgeon tells you how many units they recommend. Everyone’s face is different and again, there is no magic number, but knowing your starting point will help tailor future appointments, he says. And don’t do anything until you learn the 13 things plastic surgeons will never tell you.
Botox was introduced to the world in the late 1980s by ophthalmologists, who began using it to treat optic muscle disorders. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of moderate to severe frown lines between the eyebrows (glabellar lines) in 2002, and its popularity has soared ever since. Botox is consistently one of the top five nonsurgical cosmetic procedures performed each year.
It may be the most well known, but Botox is just one type of neurotoxin on the market. Other, next-level neurotoxins are Dysport, FDA-approved in 2009, and Xeomin, FDA-approved in 2011. “They all originate from the same strain of bacteria, therefore they work essentially in the same way,” explains Z. Paul Lorenc, MD, a board certified aesthetic plastic surgeon in Manhattan. “There are some nuanced differences between the three,” he adds. Xeomin is a purified neurotoxin, also called a “naked molecule,” because it doesn’t contain any extra surface proteins, the way Botox and Dysport do. This “pure” neurotoxin migrates deeper into skin, works faster, and poses less risk of an allergic reaction. “Theoretically, decreasing the protein load also lessens the chance of becoming a non-responder, meaning it lessens the chance that the patient will become immune to the neuromodulator being injected,” Dr. Lorenc says. Dysport tends to spread a little more than Botox, so it’s good for areas that would otherwise need multiple injections. It also kicks in faster than the other two, typically showing effects after two to three days opposed to seven to ten days with Botox, and five to six days with Xeomin. Once you try the different neurotoxins, you might decide you like one brand better than the others.
“Your doctor still has to be willing to do the work of filing a waiver and they don’t get reimbursed for that work, so they don’t like to do it,” Hoffman says. Plus, there’s a federal law called ERISA that exempts certain types of employer-provided health plans, called self-funded plans, from the requirements of state laws. So, for roughly a quarter of Americans who have these health plans, the state limitations to step therapy don’t apply.
Botox is so commonplace these days that you can get it done at some gyms and spas, but in these cases, you never know what you’re getting, how old the product is, with what it's mixed, and whether the injector knows what he or she is doing. Dr. Matarasso suggests only getting it done by what he calls the “core four”: a board-certified physician who is either a dermatologist, a plastic surgeon, an ear-nose-and-throat doctor, or an ophthalmologist.
Charges can vary from $8 to $20 a unit depending on where you are in the country and the level of dilution, meaning that the price may actually be higher than the quoted price if a clinic dilutes it out instead of preparing full-strength Botox. The cost of the procedure varies as it depends upon the total number of units injected and the number of sites treated.
It is not known whether BOTOX® is safe or effective to treat increased stiffness in upper limb muscles other than those in the elbow, wrist, fingers, and thumb, or in lower limb muscles other than those in the ankle and toes. BOTOX® has not been shown to help people perform task-specific functions with upper limbs or increase movement in joints that are permanently fixed in position by stiff muscles. BOTOX® is not meant to replace existing physical therapy or other rehabilitation that may have been prescribed.