How Does Botox Work?

I’m 27 years old and I think it’s time for me to get Botox. I’ve noticed a few small fine lines and don’t want them to get any worse. My friend told me to get Botox as a preventative treatment before my wrinkles get any deeper and I need fillers to fix them. I’m a bit scared of putting botulism in my face. How does Botox work and what is it made of?


F, 30, Georgia

Hi - Botox works by preventing or limiting expression muscles from contracting. This prevents the formation of new wrinkles and helps smooth out wrinkles that have existed for a while. Deeper wrinkles, as your friend pointed out, may also require dermal fillers to be smoothed out. Botox is the trade name for botulinum toxin A, a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Botox works by inhibiting the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine causes muscles to contract. By blocking the release of acetylcholine, muscles are limited or prevented from contracting and are unable to form the fine lines/wrinkles that develop on your muscles as we age. Botox is injected into millions of people each year and has been used since 1986. It has proven to be a very safe and effective treatment. I have personally received Botox injections for nearly 10 years and have never had any issues. In fact, I recommend Botox to all of my friends.

To add to Butternut's very detailed answer to your question, Botox is one of the most recognizable cosmetic procedures in history, and it not only has its aesthetic indications, but medical as well (such as treatment for Migraine headaches, overactive bladder, and hyperhidrosis). When performed by a properly trained and licensed professional, neurotoxin injections can be safe and extremely effective. Other brands that are less well known to the general public are Dysport and Xeomin, which have similar action and duration to Botox - ask your provider which would be right for you. I highly recommend neurotoxin treatments for my patients attempting to thwart the aging process, but I never leave out the opportunity to recommend diligent and consistent SPF use to not only slow the appearance of aging (and obviously reduce skin cancer risk), but to protect the investment you make in anti-aging treatments. 

Good luck,

Dr. Downie