What Does Botox Feel Like When It Starts to Work? Reviewed

Botox, made of botulinum toxin A, is an injectable neurotoxin that is derived from the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Upon injection into muscles, Botox blocks the neurotransmitter that passes signals between the muscle and the brain. When these signals are blocked, the directive that causes the muscle to contract is disrupted, causing a temporary paralysis of the muscle. Since its introduction to the market in the late 1980s for the treatment of eye muscle disorders, Botox has received FDA approval for a number of medical and cosmetic issues, and multiple medical companies have developed their own botulinum toxin A and botulinum toxin B formulations. The most popular botulinum toxin product and the most well-known is Botox, distributed by Allergan. Other botulinum toxin products include Dysport and Xeomin, which are both botulinum toxin type A, and Neurobloc, which is botulinum toxin type B. Botulinum toxin B has a very similar effect as type A.

What does Botox treat?

Botox was first introduced on the market as a medical treatment to help with strabismus, or eye muscle disorders. Its cosmetic benefits were only discovered as a side effect of this medical treatment, when patients and physicians began to realize that the injections also helped reduce the appearance of glabellar lines, or the frown lines that appear between the eyebrows. However, it wasn’t until 2002 that Botox Cosmetic was officially approved by the FDA for cosmetic use to temporarily improve moderate-to-severe glabellar lines. In the years since it was first introduced on the market for its original medical purpose, Botox has also been discovered to assist in the treatment of the following medical and cosmetic issues:

  • Cervical dystonia (repetitive neck spasms);
  • Chronic migraines;
  • Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating);
  • Overactive bladder;
  • Blepharospasm;
  • Depression – trials currently underway;
  • Premature ejaculation – trials currently underway;
  • Androgenic alopecia (baldness) – clinical studies currently underway;
  • Forehead lines;
  • Lateral canthal lines (crow’s feet);
  • Glabellar lines (frown lines).

What is Botox treatment like?

Regardless of what a patient is receiving Botox injections to treat, all appointments will begin with a consultation. A medical professional will discuss the patient’s medical history and discuss the desired results and manage expectations. During this phase, the patient should ask any questions they have about the procedure. Next, the physician or medical professional will prepare the patient for injections, and in the case of cosmetic treatments, pictures may be take pre-treatment. Botox will be injected directly into the muscles that affect or cause the issue being treated, which means the location of the injection varies by the condition. For forehead lines, injections will be placed in the forehead, in the eye area for crow’s feet, and in the forehead for frown lines. As the needles used to inject Botox are incredibly small and thin, the injections are not overly painful, but rather feel like a pinprick. However, topic anesthetics can be applied to numb the area prior to injection, or a cold pack may be used 10–20 minutes prior to injection to lessen the pain experienced.

When does Botox start to work?

The effects of Botox are not instantaneous. Immediately after treatment, the area of injection may have some redness and swelling, though that will likely go away in a couple hours at most. When it comes to cosmetic applications of Botox, results will typically appear after five to seven days after the procedure is performed. The skin will appear smoother, giving the patient a more refreshed look overall. The full effects of Botox will not set in until approximately two weeks after injections are administered. The effects of Botox will remain for approximately three to four months, though results will vary by patient. Many factors affect how quickly the effects take shape and how long they persist, including the age of lifestyle of patients.   

What does Botox feel like when it starts to work?

After the first injection, the patient may feel a slight tightness or heaviness in the area of treatment. This feeling will lessen after about one to two weeks, though this will also vary by patient. Some patients may experience this sensation for up to four weeks. This is the only sensation that should last for any amount of time after treatment. However, there are some other side effects that may be experienced in the days immediately following the procedure. Mild, temporary side effects may include redness, swelling, bleeding, pain, and bruising in the treatment area. The patient may also experience muscle weakness near where the Botox was injected, muscle stiffness, neck pain, or headache, as well as flu-like symptoms and nausea. More serious side effects may occur, though they are rare. These effects include difficulty breathing and swallowing, drooling, or allergic reaction. If patients experience these rarer side effects, they should contact a medical professional immediately.