How long does botox take to work and be noticeable?

I'm going on vacation one week after I get botox and I really want to look good in the photos. How long does it take botox to work and the effect to be noticeable?

Kayline

F, 36, Iowa

While I can't give you any specific medical advice here, I can answer your question in general terms:

It's very common to get Botox injections before going on vacation or before attending weddings, parties, and other events. But a week is probably not enough time for the treatment to work effectively.

The botulinum toxin found in Botox, Xeomin, and Dysport takes some time to bind to the neurons and prevent not only the contraction of facial muscles but also the facial expressions that lead to wrinkles.

The time it takes Botox to work differs from patient to patient. In most cases, effects are first visible within two to four days -- but it depends on the patient and the specifics of the treatment.

Botox does not fully take effect until somewhere around the two week mark -- which is why follow-up visits are typically scheduled for roughly two weeks following the initial treatment.

If this is your first time getting a Botox treatment, your two week follow-up visit is going to be especially important. Because every patient is different, your injector will want to get a better understanding of how Botox works with your facial anatomy, whether the injection sites were well chosen or if the amount injected was sufficient to achieve a desirable effect.

In many cases, skilled medical professionals will inject slightly less than is required just to get an idea of how Botox works in your specific case, and to see if there are any migration issues. By injecting slightly less than is required, experienced injectors can ensure a better cosmetic treatment and minimize the chances of negative results like eyelid drooping, cocked eyebrows or frozen foreheads.

My general advice is to give yourself at least three weeks before your vacation to get Botox injections. That will give you enough time for a two week follow up visit, and about another week for any follow-up injections to start working.

Many individuals who receive Botox injections in anticipation of a special event or vacation are eager to know how long they need to wait before they begin to see the effects of their treatment. For most patients, it usually takes 72 hours before the Botox starts working and the effect becomes noticeable.

However, there can be variation between patients based on the skill of the injector, the dosage of Botox used, and the unique physiological characteristics of the patient. It takes approximately two weeks before the full extent of the treatment is revealed. For this reason, many injectors request that patients come back after two weeks for a check-up appointment to see the full effects of the Botox treatment and if any additional top-up injections are required.

This is particularly important when it’s the patient's first time getting Botox, as it’s not always straightforward to determine how many units of Botox will be required to attain the desired result in each of the treated areas. Many injectors choose to inject conservatively and err on the side of caution, and after a fortnight increase the dose if necessary once the results of the first treatment are apparent. In treating forehead lines, for example, skilled injectors will tend to slightly under-inject to avoid the "frozen forehead" look and prevent eyelid drooping which can occur if the frontalis muscle which holds the brow up is over-injected.

To gain optimal Botox results so you can look your best for your vacation photos, I would advise you to schedule an appointment with a board-certified plastic surgeon two to three weeks before you go on vacation, particularly if it is your first time receiving Botox. This will allow time for your injector to ensure you’re satisfied with your results, and inject you with extra units of the Botulinum toxin if necessary.

There has been a significant amount of research carried out about the science of when Botox begins to work. In most patients, the effects of Botox start to become apparent after 3-4 days, with the peak effect apparent after 10-14 days. However, some patients may notice a change as soon as 1-2 days after treatment.

The onset of Botox results varies from person to person, because the Botulinum toxin must first bind to the nerve before it can enter the cell. The toxin needs to enter the cell before can it block the release of the chemical neurotransmitters that the nerves use to signal the muscle to contract.

Some patients experience the effects of a Botox treatment faster than others because they have a higher number of binding sites on their nerves. Once the Botox has begun blocking the release of the neurotransmitters, the facial muscles can no longer contract and the wrinkles will begin to soften and relax. It becomes difficult or impossible to make the facial expressions which caused the wrinkles.

Another factor that affects the efficacy of Botox is the depth of the wrinkles and lines. Smaller or more surface wrinkles or lines tend to show the effects of Botox more quickly than deeply etched wrinkles. For example, if you have delicate lines around the eyes but more severe forehead wrinkles or frown lines, you are likely to see results sooner for your crow's feet.

In addition, some patients who receive Dysport injections instead of Botox note that they observe effects after only 1-2 days, although at the present time the evidence of this is strictly anecdotal.

If you want to look as good as possible for your holiday photographs, you should try to make an appointment 10-14 days before you leave. This will ensure the Botox is at its optimal effect while you are away, and any tiny bruises around the injection sites will have subsided. While bruising is uncommon, it can sometimes occur should the needle rupture a blood vessel, which is possible when treating the crow's feet area.

Hi Kayline, 

Botox takes about a week to take effect, you should look great in your pictures! 

-Lauren, Patient Coordinator