Botulinum Toxin Injections—Cosmetic
(Botulinum Toxin Type A; Botulinum Toxin Type B; Botox Injections)
Pronounced: baut-U-lie-num tock-sin in-jek-shuns
by Shara Aaron, MS, RD
Botulinum toxin (botox) is made from a type of bacteria. Another name for it is bacterial neurotoxin. An injection of botox blocks the chemical signal from the nerves to the muscles, resulting in temporary paralysis of that muscle. This will decrease muscle contraction and reduce the formation of wrinkles.
There are several types and brands of this toxin. Examples include Botox, Dysport, and Reloxin, which are formulations of botulinum toxin type A. Myobloc is another brand, but it is a formulation of botulinum toxin type B. These products are used for cosmetic and medical reasons.
Botox is a general term. Any brand of the botulinum toxin may be used.
Reasons for Procedure
This is most commonly used as a treatment to smooth wrinkles on the face and neck. It is FDA-approved for the treatment of frown lines between the brows (glabella wrinkles) and the treatment of wrinkles at the outer corner of the eyes (crow's feet).
Complications are rare. When they occur, they are temporary and mild. Side effects are related to the site of injection. For example, if injections take place near the eyes, there may be complications with eyelids or the brow line.
Temporary issues may include:
The following are less common reactions. They are generally mild and do not last long.
Other complications that may occur include:
The toxin can also interact with medications, such as antibiotics. Tell your doctor about all of the medications that you are taking.
You should not have botox if you:
What to Expect
Most often, none is given. Some patients may prefer to have the area numbed for comfort. In this case, a topical anesthetic may be used.
Description of the Procedure
A thin needle will be used. The toxin will be injected through the skin into the targeted muscle. You will often need several injections in a small area.
There is little recovery needed, but remember to:
How Long Will It Take?
The length will depend on the number of sites involved. It is often less than 20 minutes.
Will It Hurt?
You may have some minimal discomfort.
Normal activities may be resumed after the procedure.
The toxin temporarily weakens targeted muscles. It can take up to 72 hours before the effects are noticeable. The treatment typically last for 3-4 months. With repeated use, the effects may last longer.
Call Your Doctor
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Academy of Dermatology
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Canadian Dermatology Association
Botulinum toxin. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed September 1, 2017.
Ondo WG, Gollomp S, Galvez-Jimenez N. A pilot study of botulinum toxin A for headache in cervical dystonia. Headache. 2005;45(8):1073-1077.
Ward A, Roberts G, Warner J, et al. Cost-effectiveness of botulinum toxin type A in the treatment of post-stroke spasticity. J Rehabil Med. 2005;37(4):252-257.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD
Last Updated: 9/3/2014