The procedure for a Botox® injection will vary somewhat depending on the preferences of the physician involved, but there is a general approach used in most situations. First, the doctor will try to determine exactly where to put the injections. This requires the doctor to analyze the face during different expressions to see where wrinkles are appearing. The next step is usually to numb the face so that the patient doesn't feel very much pain. Doctors perform the procedure using very small needles and may ask patients to make facial expressions repeatedly to ensure that each Botox® injection is going in exactly the right place.
A Botox® injection makes the muscles in the face work less effectively. Once doctors inject the botulism protein into these muscles, they can temporarily stop reacting fully to nerve impulses. If muscles that cause the face to wrinkle up become unresponsive, the face will look smoother during certain expressions, including smiles and frowns. This can potentially give people a more youthful appearance, and some find that this approach works better than a face lift for getting rid of wrinkles. The effects of a Botox® injection will go away after a certain amount of time, so patients have to return for additional treatments.
The most common locations for a Botox® injection are in between the eyes, on the forehead, and around the sides of the eyes. These are areas where muscle contractions have a tendency to make the face wrinkle up. Some people may only need a Botox® injection in a few of those places, while others will need injections all over the area.
The exact number of injections in a Botox® operation will vary depending on how severely wrinkled the patient is. A typical number may be 12 to 15 separate injections. In many cases, doctors perform the operation in a matter of minutes, and most people say they experience very little pain during the procedure.
The botulism protein can potentially be deadly, and doctors take special care to control the exact levels of protein used during the Botox® injection procedure. Botulism can cause deadly food poisoning, and it used to be especially common with food from damaged cans. There are treatments for this illness, but people often wait too long to go to the hospital—in those cases, doctors are unable to help.