Thinking about taking the Botox shortcut to smooth those laugh lines or crow’s feet? You’re not alone. You’ll be joining approximately 8,000,000 other cosmetic Botox injection patients from last year. It is, by a huge margin, the most popular of all cosmetic procedures . But how long does it take for Botox to work?
When will you see the maximum effects? And how long will they last?
Here are the quick answers:
- First effects in 3-5 days.
- Full effects in about 7-14 days.
- Effects will last about 3-4 months.
Bear in mind; many factors will come into play so the above are ballpark estimates. Your mileage may vary.
Let’s dig in a bit.
What affects how long before Botox kicks in?
A few things that can affect your timelines:
- Your age
- How thin or…not thin…you are
- You skin’s elasticity (has a lot to do with your age but include other factors as well, such as smoking)
- How much Botox was injected
- Where you were injected
There are reports of patients getting Botox for forehead lines and wrinkles and seeing maximum results in 2 days. The area between the eyebrows and slightly above is the Glabella, which has extremely thin skin and typically responds quickly to Botox injections. So, where you get your injection will also determine how quickly you see the results.
Another factor that can affect how soon before you see the Botox results is which treatment you are on. If this is your first injection, your surgeon may start with a low dosage to gauge its effectiveness. This first injection may be slower to show results and may not last as long as subsequent injections. For the 2nd, 3rd, and later injections, you can be sure your surgeon will have you on track for maximum effectiveness with the best dosage. For your later injections, you’ll see the Botox effect quicker than for your earlier treatments.
How does Botox remove wrinkles?
It doesn’t really “remove” them – it just relaxes the underlying muscles in the treated area that cause them to form. Your muscle movement will be eliminated, as will your wrinkles and facial expressions.
For a quick medical explanation, remember that Botox, as we have come to know it, is the botulinum toxin derived from Clostridium Botulinum bacteria. This is the same toxin associated with food poisoning (in large amounts). Scientists discovered that in tiny amounts, it is also extremely good at what they call a “controlled weakening” of the muscles. So it causes facial muscles to relax.
When the Botox wears off, your muscles will wake up, and those lines will show up again. This is how you know it’s time for another treatment.
How long does Botox last?
Your Botox injection should last between 3-4 months. Some patients report as long as 6 months.
After a period of time, the Botox toxin will break down and become less effective at relaxing the underlying muscles. As a patient, you’ll slowly start to notice those fine lines and forehead wrinkles returning.
To maintain the results of the Botox injections, additional injections will be required. Your plastic surgeon will often schedule your next round of injections during the visit where you just had injections. It makes sense to schedule this as a regular treatment since the best way to avoid wrinkled skin later in life is to prevent the wrinkles from occurring now. With this mindset, you can consider these to be preventative Botox treatments.
What can I do to make my Botox injections last longer?
You can’t extend the effectiveness of the Botox cosmetic procedure itself – it will break down in your system on a timetable you cannot impact. However, there are a number of things you can do to help extend the effects of Botox.
- For at least 48 hours after your injection, do not rub your face. No face massage, facial exercise, or any kind of facial scrubs. This can cause the Botox to migrate to areas it was not intended, thereby diluting it in the areas it was intended for.
- Remember that Botox only affects dynamic wrinkles that are caused by the underlying muscle. If a muscle contraction isn’t causing the wrinkles, Botox injections will have no impact on them. Wrinkles caused by excessive sun or smoking, for instance, are not affected by your Botox treatment. So, to improve the overall effectiveness of your treatment, ensure you always use high SPF sunblock and quit smoking. Both of these will help reduce wrinkles.
- Take zinc supplements. Studies have shown a correlation between Zinc and Botox’s effectiveness. Since most people have at least a minimal Zinc deficiency, ensuring you do not should help a bit.
- Skincare applies to the first point above, but I want to go beyond sunblock. The various creams and lotions you see everywhere these days really do work. Hyaluronic acid really is a marvel unto itself. Investing time and money into Botox injections but not into the daily care of your skin undermines your overall efforts. Find some good lotions and make a habit of using them daily. See the next section below for more info.
- There are a lot of folks in the medical field who believe exercise speeds up the processes that cause Botox to break down. This is unproven at this stage but if you are an ultra-marathoner or some kind of endurance athlete, you may find the lasting effects for Botox results are shorter than expected for you. The alternative, of course, is to exercise less. Again – unproven. Just bringing it up.
The final point I’ll make here is to choose the best professional to do the injections. A poorly trained person, or perhaps somebody that is cutting corners will result in poor results as well as reduced effectiveness timeframes. Do the research upfront to ensure you are working with the best. It’s your face and it’s worth the extra effort.
What about Botox in a Bottle?
“Botox in a Bottle” doesn’t contain actual Botox.
This phrase refers to the creams and lotions that offer ultra-effective hydration for your skin to smooth existing wrinkles and preventing more. These “90-second wrinkle erasers”, as they have been called, is a valid cosmetic treatment worthy of a close look as an alternative to Botox injections.
They really are amazing.
Each has its own pros/cons to be aware of. You can read more about this in our Botox in a Bottle article.
Other uses for Botox
As mentioned earlier, your treatment isn’t just for smoothing your facial lines; it also helps with chronic migraine, overactive bladder / urinary incontinence, excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), eye twitching (blepharospasms), eyelid drooping, and other medical conditions.
Some reports indicate it may help tinnitus as well, although no conclusive research is completed yet.
It’s interesting to note that the amount of time before first effects are seen, the amount of time for maximum effectiveness, and the amount of time that the Botox treatment remains effective for each is fairly consistent among its many uses.
Conclusion – so how long does it take for Botox to work?
Botox injections will relax the muscles where it is around the injection site. For those interested in smoothing facial wrinkles, it’s an excellent treatment that is (somewhat) cost-effective, quick and painless, and has fairly long-lasting results. When spending time and money on this, it’s natural to ask how long does it take for Botox to work. As we discussed above, you should see the first effects in a week or less and the maximum effects in about 2 weeks. You can expect your results to last you around 3-4 months, with many patients reporting up to 5 or even 6 months.