Injectables
What is Botulinum toxin type A?

Botulinum toxin type A is an injectable neurotoxin, better known under brand names such as Botox Cosmetic®, Dysport®, and Xeomin®.

Neurotoxin treatments are the most popular single cosmetic procedure in the U.S. and are mainly used to smooth dynamic wrinkles, or those wrinkles that form as a result of facial movements like frowning, squinting, smiling, and other expressions we tend to make day after day.

Treatment works by blocking nerve impulses to the muscles, causing them to relax. As a result, your expressions soften and the dynamic wrinkles are greatly reduced.

Now you know that each of these products contain the same active ingredient: botulinum toxin type A, and are designed to address the same types of wrinkles and other cosmetic concerns.

So how are they different? The main distinction lies in their formulation, which influences the dosage used, how much the product spreads, and how quickly a patient might see the results. For example, Botox Cosmetic is formulated with an accompanying protein. Dysport contains a smaller version of a similar protein, while Xeomin doesn’t contain an accompanying protein at all.

All three products are FDA-approved and have been used safely and effectively for years. Which of these products is best for you will depend on your unique anatomy, your goals, and your cosmetic provider’s recommendations.

Botulinum toxin injections are non-surgical and typically completed during an office visit. Your initial treatment will begin with a consultation, during which you will meet with your cosmetic provider to discuss your concerns and goals.

Pre-treatment consultation

During your consultation, your cosmetic provider will evaluate your area of concern and go over your medical history. Even though there is little risk of major complications for most patients, it is still imperative that you share your medical history fully and openly with your provider before treatment, as certain allergies, skin and neurological conditions, or medications can make treatment unsuitable for a patient. For instance, you need to tell your provider if you have been taking NSAIDs (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen) or blood thinners.

Your Botox-type injectable treatment

Just before the actual treatment, you may be given a topical anesthetic to numb the area prior to injection, though many patients find this unnecessary, as the needles used to inject botulinum toxins are very thin and the injections are not very deep. Your provider will reconstitute the botulinum toxin into a solution, and inject this solution into the muscle at strategic points. Most patients describe a pinching feeling during the injection, though not much pain.

You will be able to go back to your normal activities right after treatment, but your provider may ask you to take the day off from exercise or other strenuous activity, and to keep your head upright for the rest of the day. Mild redness, swelling at the injection site, and bruising are the most common side effects.

Following treatment, you will not see results immediately. This is expected, so do not worry that treatment hasn’t worked. Depending on the patient, product used, and area treated, final results are typically reached 3 to 7 days after initial treatments. If this is your first botulinum toxin treatment, your provider may initially inject a more conservative amount and touch up the results during a follow up treatment. This helps to ensure natural, optimal results without the risk of over-treating an area.

The wrinkle-reducing effects from botulinum treatments will vary depending on the patient, the area treated, and the product used, but results will typically last anywhere from 3 to 6 months. To maintain your results, your provider will simply repeat treatment, adjusting dosage and techniques as necessary to ensure optimal results.

While botulinum toxin type A is most commonly used to treat facial wrinkles, cosmetic surgeons can also use neurotoxins to address other aesthetic concerns that are associated with nerve and muscle activity:

  • Reduce excessive sweating. Botulinum type A injections can be used to interrupt the nerve impulses that activate the sweat glands, helping alleviate embarrassment from excessive sweating on the armpits, hands or feet.
  • Soften vertical neck bands. If you are bothered by prominent vertical bands on your neck, botulinum toxins can be used to relax the responsible muscles and give your neck a smoother, softer appearance.