If you’re considering a botox treatment, you probably already know that it’s not a permanent fix, and you’re also probably preparing to schedule in a few visits over the next few months. But just how long does botox last? Are there ways to prolong its effects? And are there things botox patients shouldn’t do?
How does botox work?
First, let’s take a quick look at how the botox procedure actually works.
During the treatment, minute quantities of a protein called botulinum toxin are injected into certain parts of the face. This protein attaches itself to nerve endings, stopping them from communicating with the facial muscles. Essentially, botox paralyses the muscles in place, softening wrinkles in the process.
It is relatively painless, comparable to a series of pin pricks or insect bites, and usually only takes around 15-30 minutes. Results can be seen within seven days of the procedure, with the full scale of the treatment visible at around the two week mark.
Botox treatments are not a permanent solution, losing their effectiveness as the weeks go on and the muscles gradually regain movement.
Commonly seen as a cosmetic treatment, it is also becoming helpful in treating medical issues too, including facial spasms, excessive sweating, and even weakened bladders. It can also be used to help jaw pain caused by temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
While the brand Botox is synonymous with the procedure, Australian doctors may also use Dysport or Xeomin in their procedures.
How long does botox last?
While the effects of botox are generally considered to last between three to four months, it’s important to remember that everyone is different. Some people might find they can stretch a single visit out to six months, while others will be ready to return to their doctor in as little as two.
Factors such as age, sex, general skin elasticity, body type, and lifestyle can all affect how long botox lasts. It really does depend on the person receiving the treatment.
How long do you need to wait between procedures?
Generally speaking, patients can expect around a minimum three-month wait between appointments. It is possible to build up a resistance to botox, so spacing treatments out appropriately is a must for those looking to book recurring sessions.
Over time, those receiving regular treatments might find they can go longer between visits. We’ll talk a little about that later.
That being said, it’s important to speak to your doctor about future appointments – they’ll be able to advise on individual cases.
Factors that can impact botox’s longevity
As mentioned earlier, there’s a number of things that can affect how long your botox treatment lasts.
There are, of course, unavoidable factors, such as age or wrinkle depth, but there may be other reasons why it isn’t lasting as long as it could. Potential examples include:
Your doctor will likely give you some specific aftercare instructions following the procedure. Skip these at your peril! General guidance suggests remaining upright for several hours after the treatment, and avoiding massaging the area to prevent the botox from moving from its specific target.
Heavy smoking and drinking, a poor diet, and sun exposure can affect your skin, and may lessen the impact of any treatments.
The effects may be fading quickly because you haven’t had enough units of botox injected into the skin. Early procedures will likely use less units as doctors gauge what is appropriate for you, but be aware that this should not be a consistent issue. Make sure you work with a licensed professional to avoid under – or over! – dosing.
Positioning of the treatment
Botox needs to hit certain points in the face in order to be effective. If your practitioner doesn’t get it right, those wrinkles won’t stay away for long and you could even end up with the wrong part of your face feeling the effects. This is just another reason why it’s important to find a good doctor to do the job.
Time for a change
Your botox injections might, indeed, be Botox but what if your body would respond better to another brand? People react differently to different things; perhaps it’s time to try one of the other brands, or even look at another type of anti-ageing injection.
Can you make botox last longer?
Botox is a protein and will, eventually, be broken down by the body. For that reason, it’s perhaps better to think not in terms of the botox itself lasting longer, but rather the effects of it.
In that regard, here’s a few things you can try:
Avoid strenuous exercise, especially for the first 24 hours
If you’re particularly active, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun, you might find that your treatment doesn’t last as long as someone who only does moderate, gentle exercise.
Keep out of the sun, wear a high SPF sunscreen, and stay away from sunbeds
Everyone already knows the negative impact too much sun exposure can have on your skin, so why risk undoing all the botox’s hard work?
Stay hydrated and maintain a balanced, healthy diet
Sounds simple, right? Drink some water, eat some veggies. But while we all know to limit things like sugar and processed foods, it’s also important to remember that drastic weight loss and gain can affect our skin too. Quick fix weight loss in particular can be an issue for botox patients, as the skin doesn’t have enough time to adapt to a changing body, and can lose its elasticity.
Look after your skin
As well as wearing a good sunscreen and drinking plenty of water, take the time to build a solid skin care routine, incorporating moisturisers and gentle cleansers.
Stop smoking – and if you don’t smoke, don’t start!
The toxins in cigarette smoke can damage the collagen and elastin in the skin – two important factors in keeping your skin firm and supple. This can lead to premature ageing, deep wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity. In short, not good for prolonging your botox treatment.
Yoga, meditation, journaling, watching the sunset; however you relax and de-stress at the end of a long day, embrace it! Reducing stress levels reduces how often you will frown and scowl, actions which inadvertently tense those muscles the botox has worked so hard to relax.
Schedule maintenance appointments
Regular appointments can help maintain the effects of botox treatments. After being consistently relaxed, the muscles can shrink and will require less units to stay relaxed. In a way, you’re training your muscles to do what the botox does. This has a potentially long-term anti-ageing effect, as the skin is folded less and less by the movement of the muscles, and so deep lines and wrinkles may fade away.
Find a good doctor
Perhaps the best piece of advice to consider when trying to get the most out of your botox treatment is to find a reputable, licensed practitioner. This not only ensures your safety throughout the entire procedure, but they’re also the best placed people to guide you through the process, advise you of what will work best, and help keep your expectations in check.
And if, after all this, you’re thinking botox might not be the right choice for you, you might want to consider cheek fillers instead!
- Lana Bandoim, 2018, “How Long Do the Effects of Botox Cosmetic Last?”, Healthline
- Smita Ramanadham, 2019, “How long does botox last?”, American Society of Plastic Surgeons
- 2019, “Anti-Wrinkle Injections”, Estetik MedKlinik
- Louise Morales-Brown, 2020, “How long does Botox last?”, Medical News Today
- Erik Miles, “How long does botox last?”, North Charlotte Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
- “6 Tips to Make Botox Injections Last Longer”, North Raleigh Plastic Surgery
- “3 Reasons Why Your Botox Treatment Is Not Lasting As Long As You Expected”, Refine, MD Northwest
- “Tips to make botox last longer”, Dr Mark Hamilton.com