April 2, 2024

What is Botox (Botulinum Toxin)?

Botox or botulinum toxin injections help with wrinkles and fine lines, pain management and more. People may get Botox for cosmetic or medical reasons.

Reviewed by: Karmay Hung, DNP, AGACNP-BC, CEN
Table of Contents

Botox is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments. It is commonly used to smooth wrinkles, soften fine lines and reduce other signs of aging. But what is Botox and how does it work? In this blog, we’ll do a deep dive into Botox so you know everything you need to know. Let’s get started.

A Brief Overview

Botox, or botulinum toxin, was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1989. But, it wouldn’t be approved by the FDA for cosmetic purposes until 2002, which is what it's primarily known for today. Botox is the first and only cosmetic treatment FDA-approved for the temporary treatment of fine lines on three areas of the face – forehead lines, frown lines and crow’s feet. Although not originally intended for aesthetic purposes, Botox has nonetheless had a stratospheric rise in popularity in the cosmetic care industry.

Overall, Botox is considered a safe, convenient and minimally invasive treatment for reducing signs of aging. Beyond that, it is sometimes used to help treat certain medical conditions. To better understand this popular treatment, let’s take a look at how Botox works.

How does Botox work?

Botox is a neurotoxin that works by temporarily freezing or paralyzing muscle areas of the face. Botox is carefully injected into a specific muscle group to achieve this result. This freezing of the muscles causes them to relax, which helps to reduce the signs of common cosmetic concerns like wrinkles, fine lines, crow’s feet and more.

But how does the freezing effect happen? Normally, your brain sends messages to your muscles to cause them to move. Botox blocks a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. By blocking this neurotransmitter, the muscles targeted by Botox don’t get the signal to contract. As a result, the contracting movements that cause wrinkles and lines are temporarily stopped or reduced. This effect isn’t permanent. Typically, the effects of Botox will last roughly three to six months.

When injected by an experienced professional, Botox treatments are highly targeted and these effects are localized. This helps to minimize the impact on surrounding muscle groups and patients typically retain natural facial expressions after treatment.

What is it made of?

Botox is derived from a bacterium known as Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium can be found in soil and various natural environments. There are seven types of this bacterium, and Type A is used to make Botox. In fact, the bacterium used to make Botox is the same bacteria that causes the food poisoning botulism.

Of course, Botox is used in tiny, controlled doses and the medication must meet rigorous medical control standards. Based on the FDA’s standards, these toxins are generally safe when used correctly and administered by an experienced professional.

Is it safe?

Yes, Botox is considered safe when injected by a certified health care professional. It’s important to always have Botox administered in a professional setting by a qualified provider. While Botox has been deemed safe, there is a risk of side effects, as with any treatment. For the most part, Botox's side effects are typically minor and temporary.

When you choose a Botox provider, it’s best to research your options and choose an injector with a reputation for quality care and expertise. This ensures that the treatment is being administered safely and it also can improve treatment outcomes.

What cosmetic conditions can be treated with Botox?

Botox is primarily used to treat cosmetic concerns like fine lines and wrinkles. It can be used to treat multiple areas of the face. Depending on your goals and needs, you will likely target multiple areas per session. Some of the most common cosmetic concerns that are treated with Botox include:

  • Forehead wrinkles
  • Crow's feet
  • Bunny lines
  • Mouth corners
  • Frown lines
  • Sagging eyebrows
  • Smoker's lines
  • Neck bands

Botox is a temporary treatment, so you will likely need to return for sessions later in the year to maintain results. Generally, results for Botox start to appear within one to four days, with final results taking around a week or two. Your Botox injector will also provide you with post-care instructions to ensure the best treatment results possible.

What medical conditions can be treated with Botox?

Beyond cosmetic treatments, Botox also has several medical applications as well. Botox is not a cure for these conditions, but it can help to alleviate symptoms. The medical conditions that Botox is sometimes used for include:

  • Muscle spasms - Botox can help reduce symptoms of muscle spasms. It is often used specifically for neck spasms and eye twitching.
  • Lazy eye - Lazy eye is often caused by a muscle imbalance. Botox can help with this.
  • Migraines - Botox can help alleviate the symptoms of migraines or reduce the frequency of migraine episodes by relaxing the tension that sometimes exacerbates migraine headaches.
  • Excessive sweating - Some people suffer from excessive sweating even if they’re not hot or being active. Botox can help reduce excessive sweating.
  • Bladder issues - Botox is sometimes used to help with urinary incontinence for those with overactive bladders.
  • TMJ disorder symptoms - TMJ disorders are a group of conditions that affect the temp mandibular joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. Botox injected in the masseter muscles can help alleviate common TMJ disorder symptoms like teeth grinding, headaches, jaw popping, jaw stiffness and more.

What are the risks and benefits of getting Botox injections?

Botox injections offer an array of benefits, but there are also some risks to keep in mind. Some of the benefits of Botox treatments include:

  • Improved appearance of wrinkles and fine lines - Of course, the aforementioned cosmetic benefits are one of the most well-known benefits of getting Botox. Botox can help to smooth fine lines, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and enhance the natural beauty of patients.
  • Nonsurgical - Botox is minimally invasive and most patients report little to no pain during treatment. This makes it a safe and preferable cosmetic option for reducing signs of aging.
  • Convenience - Botox treatments typically take less than 30 minutes. This makes it easy to get treatment on any schedule.
  • Minimal recovery time - You can usually return to your normal activities immediately after treatment. But, make sure to follow any post-care instructions your injector provides to ensure optimal results.
  • Medical benefits - As mentioned, Botox treatments can help reduce symptoms of medical conditions like TMJ disorder, migraines, excessive sweating, muscle spasms and more.
  • Improved self-esteem - Botox can enhance your natural beauty, which can boost your self-esteem and confidence.
  • Temporary results - Results for Botox are temporary, so if patients don’t like their results they can rest assured they will fade over time.
  • Results for months - Although results are temporary, they often last for three to six months. Meaning you may only need a few treatments per year to maintain results.

It’s also good to be aware of the potential risks of Botox treatment. Botox may cause side effects like:

  • Injection site reactions like pain, swelling, bruising or redness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Droopy eyelids

The side effects of Botox are usually temporary and subside quickly. In rare cases, Botox may cause more severe side effects. You should seek medical attention if you experience muscle weakness, vision problems, incontinence or signs of an allergic reaction.

Who is a good candidate for Botox®, Dysport®, Xeomin® or Jeuveau®?

Now that you know more about Botox, you can decide if it’s right for you. You may also consider alternative brands like Dysport, Xeomin and Jeuveua. Regardless of the type of treatment, your cosmetic care provider will need to determine if you’re a good candidate for treatment. This is done through a consultation that goes over your health history. Generally, Botox and its alternatives aren’t recommended for those who:

  • Have a neuromuscular condition
  • Have a skin condition near the site of injection
  • Have certain facial features that would affect treatment, like deep scarring
  • Are taking certain medications

Always speak to your Botox provider or health care provider to determine if Botox treatment is safe for you.

Masseter Botox and jawline Botox treatments are temporary. But, you can expect results to last about three to six months.

You can expect to start seeing results in about three to five days, with many people seeing full results within a week.2 It’s important to closely follow any post-care instructions from your Botox provider to ensure optimal healing and results.

Compare Botox providers in NYC

If you live in NYC and want to find a Botox provider, you may find an overwhelming number of options. While it’s great to have options, this can make it difficult to compare providers and find one that’s right for you. That’s where Certainly comes in.

The Certainly platform lets you easily compare Botox providers in NYC. Just enter your location, choose your treatment and you’ll get a list of providers in your area. From there, you can compare, review predicted treatment prices and book your appointment directly online.

Get Upfront Costs with Certainly Health

Finding transparent pricing in cosmetic care can be frustrating, especially when you have so many providers to choose from. Certainly can help. Certainly lets you compare estimated costs for Botox providers across New York City. This way, you’re not hit with a surprise bill and you can choose a quality provider that best fits your needs and budget. Ready to find your Botox provider? Get started with the Certainly platform today!


1.  https://www.facialesthetics.org/botox-procedures/

2.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2856357/#:~:text=In%20fact%2C%20botulinum%20toxin%20injections,in%20excess%20of%20placebo%20groups

3.  https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/botox/about/pac-20384658#:~:text=Why%20it's%20done,symptoms%20of%20some%20health%20conditions.

4.  https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/botox/about/pac-20384658#:~:text=The%20procedure%20can%20result%20in,Headache%20or%20flu%2Dlike%20symptoms.

5.  https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/how-does-botulinum-toxin-botox-work