How long does Botox actually last?

A handy guide on everything you need to know about Botox.

Written by
Molly McLaughlin
Medically reviewed by
min read
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If you've been considering undergoing a cosmetic procedure to target lines and wrinkles, Botox often tops the treatment list. Botox was first approved in Australia in 1999 and has since become a popular intervention for reducing the signs of ageing caused by facial expressions.

While an effective skincare routine can help prevent sun damage, Botox can dramatically improve the appearance of crow's feet, frown lines and other wrinkles caused by muscle movement, also known as dynamic wrinkles or expression lines.

Of course, the decision to undergo a treatment like Botox is a personal one and before doing so, it's important that you have all of the relevant information. We've created a handy guide on everything you need to know about Botox so you can make an informed choice about Botox injections.

As always, your doctor is the best source of medical advice so be sure to chat to them before making up your mind, especially if you have any underlying health issues that could affect your experience with Botox.

What is Botox?

The name 'Botox' is an abbreviation of Botulinum Toxin Type A, a toxin that is produced by a microbe that causes food poisoning. Although that may sound a little scary, the small dose used by a doctor in facial injections is generally considered safe.

When injected into the face of a patient, the treatment temporarily stops a muscle from moving. This smooths lines in the skin, creating a younger-looking complexion.

Botox is primarily used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, but can also be used to treat conditions like chronic migraines, neck spasms, lazy eyes and other muscle-related issues throughout the body.

How does Botox work?

Botox injections have a rapid effect on facial wrinkles. The treatment works by blocking the release of acetylcholine, a chemical signal produced by the nerves, which paralyses the muscles around the injection area within a couple of days of the Botox treatment.

Botox injections can also be used to treat excessive sweating, for example, as this same chemical signal is what causes the sweat glands to become active.

The muscle-relaxing effects of Botox in both the face and other areas of the body are not permanent and patients will need regular injections are needed to maintain the results.

The number and frequency of treatments will vary, with some people needing fewer Botox treatments than others over the same time period. In Australia, Botox is available by prescription only as it can be poisonous in very high doses.

Is Botox safe?

When injected by wellness professionals with relevant experience, Botox treatment is a safe and simple procedure that erases lines and wrinkles on the skin.

It does have some possible side effects, including bleeding, swelling, skin redness, pain and headaches. The risk of these side effects occurring can be reduced by using thinner needles and diluting Botox with saline.

Other side effects can also occur, such as fatigue, nausea and ptosis (also known as droopy eyelid). Most of these conditions can be treated, and all will reduce and generally disappear over time as the effects of the Botox injections wear off.

How long does Botox take to work?

Most people find the wrinkle-reducing effects of Botox begin to show on the skin as early as 24 hours after the injection, with full muscle-paralysing potency achieved around one to two weeks later.

Your doctor will be able to give you a more accurate prediction before the treatment. The length of time will depend on how long it takes for the Botox to penetrate the facial muscles and will differ from person to person.

This is due to the levels of muscle thickness, the part of the face being treated and the amount of Botox used. The larger muscles will often require a higher volume of Botox injections.

How long does Botox last in the face?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, cosmetic Botox usually lasts three to four months but can retain its effectiveness for up to six months in some patients.

Again, the variation is caused by the specific type and amount of muscles in each person's face.

Often, the second and subsequent Botox injections will last for longer periods than the first, as some residual effects linger under the skin from the previous round of Botox treatment.

Some patients find that Botox results are reduced when they engage in strenuous exercise, but the length of effect is largely out of the patient's control. While Botox is an effective treatment for fine lines and wrinkles, it isn't the only option.

In fact, there are other less invasive (and much cheaper) options for future-proofing your skin.

Software's personalised prescription anti-ageing treatment harnesses the power of prescription retinoids and ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to tackle ageing at the very source.

Prescription retinoids stimulate the growth of new skin cells and increase the rate at which old skin cells are shed. This increased cell production turnover helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as skin texture.

Retinoids also promote collagen production, which contributes to your skin's elasticity and plumpness. Collagen production reduces as you age, which can cause the skin to sag and look aged.

And, these anti-ageing results continue for as long as you use retinoids topically on the skin. While Botox wears off after a few months, our ageing treatment can be used long-term and produce results for years to come.

The only caveat to using retinoids is that those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid this ingredient. Simply complete our online consult and our local Software health practitioners will create a customised prescription formula for you.

This is compounded and delivered straight to your door and you can access ongoing follow-up support from your practitioner as you use your treatment. Unlike Botox, you can be in contact with your Software practitioner when needed and your formula can be updated as time goes on.

How long does lip flip Botox last?

While Botox is mostly known for its ability to treat facial wrinkles and smooth out the skin, it also has uses in other areas of the face. One example of this is the 'lip flip' Botox.

Sometimes used in conjunction with lip filler, lip flip Botox relaxes the muscles in the upper lip in order to make it curl upwards and outwards.

As the Botox paralyses the muscle, it exaggerates the shape and volume of the upper lip, making it appear larger. At the same time, the botulinum toxin will reduce the appearance of any wrinkles around the injection site.

Botox can also be used in a similar way to treat a gummy smile, by lowering the muscles that keep the top lip taught or revealing more of the lip while smiling.

Like most Botox treatments, effects of a lip flip will last around three to four months. However, there are some potential negatives.

A lip flip can make it more difficult to do things like whistle, spit and drink through a straw, and it can even change your pronunciation of certain words. All these effects will wear off as the botulinum toxin loses its effect and the muscles regain their ability to move.

How many units of Botox are needed for the forehead?

In Australia, each vial of Botox contains 50, 100 or 200 units of botulinum toxin type A. This will then be diluted with saline solution before being injected to improve the results.

The manufacturer of Botox suggests 20 units across five injection sites as a treatment for forehead lines and this is the usual dose.

However, when you receive Botox, your doctor will decide how many units are needed to paralyse the nerve impulses and smooth your forehead skin. In general, the doctor will start with the minimal effective dose and build up from there to achieve the desired effect.

Botox costs between AUD $9 and AUD $15 per unit, meaning a treatment of 20 units can cost over AUD $200.

How often should you get Botox?

The manufacturer of Botox also suggests that treatment should typically not be more frequent than every three months.

Regular Botox treatments can prevent the appearance of lines and wrinkles on the skin, but the frequency will depend on how the Botox works on your muscles and any underlying health issues that affect your skin.

Although most patients enjoy the benefits for at least a few months, the effects of Botox can wear off over a shorter period if you engage in heavy exercise or do not wear sunscreen during sun exposure.

Other factors, like facial muscle mass, are completely out of the patient's control but may dictate how long the Botox lasts. The fact that Botox is temporary means that you, in consultation with a doctor, can control the level of transformation of your appearance over time.

Should you take a break between Botox treatments?

The choice to take a break from Botox injections is completely up to you. Whether for aesthetic or other reasons, there is no reason to continue injections once you begin.

However, if you are following a doctor's recommendations and injection frequency, there should be no negative effects of continuing with the treatments.

Issues like muscle atrophy are unlikely to result from Botox, but if you have concerns about health conditions associated with the treatment, make sure to speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

If for some reason you decide to skip a treatment there will not be any negative consequences on your skin. The botulinum toxin will simply stop working and your skin will return to its natural state.

Overall, Botox is an effective tool that is used to reduce the signs of ageing for cosmetic purposes. It can erase wrinkles and lines, but requires continued upkeep every three to six months to prolong the results.

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