What is botox (botulinum injection), and how long does it last for?

Most people who use the internet have heard or come across the terms “botox” or “botox injection.” This article will delve deep into discussing what this procedure means, how it works, its uses in both cosmetic and therapeutic realms, safety considerations, and risks. 

A woman getting a botox (botulinum) injection on her forehead

Key takeaways

  • Botox is a popular cosmetic procedure used to reduce facial wrinkles and treat various medical conditions.
  • Botox typically lasts for 3 to 4 months but can vary depending on individual factors.
  • Side effects of Botox injections can include swelling or redness at the injection site, temporary bruising, and headaches.

Botox has gained much popularity (and equally controversy) compared to most other cosmetic procedures. This neurotoxic protein, derived from Clostridium botulinum, has found its place not only in the world of skincare and beauty but also in various medical applications. 

Botox has become a household name; from reducing wrinkles to treating migraines. Understanding its intricacies and implications is essential before considering treatment.

What is Botox (botulinum injection)?

Botulinum toxin (Botox) is a neurotoxin from the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum, an anaerobic gram-positive, spore-forming rod that typically inhabits plants, soil, water, and the digestive systems of animals. It is also called “miracle poison” and stands out as one of the most potent biological toxins recognized. 

Botox is the same toxin responsible for inducing a severe form of foodborne illness known as botulism, which can be life-threatening.

Botulinum toxin injections prove efficacious in treating numerous clinical conditions marked by involuntary muscle movements or heightened muscle tension. Additionally, they represent the most prevalent cosmetic intervention conducted globally, with projections indicating nearly 3 million injections administered annually. 

Botox or botulinum toxin therapy has a broad range of applications, encompassing both therapeutic and cosmetic purposes [2], and is widely regarded as safe and efficient. However, it may cause side effects, especially when it’s not administered by a professional.

Uses of Botox

Botox has a range of applications. Some of its uses include but are not limited to:

  • Temporary reduction of facial wrinkles to enhance one's appearance
  • Improvement in bladder control
  • Correction of strabismus, a condition causing misalignment of the eyes
  • Treatment for severe sweating, usually under the arms, on the palms, and soles of the feet
  • Management of cervical dystonia, characterized by severe contractions of neck and shoulder muscles due to a neurological disorder
  • Control of blepharospasm, a condition that causes involuntary blinking of the eyes
  • Relief from chronic migraines
  • Correction of facial asymmetry caused by neurological conditions or muscle imbalance (i.e., when some muscles in your body are stronger or tighter than others due to injury or performing certain activities more often on one side of your body). 

Botox for treating facial wrinkles and reducing fine lines

One of the major applications of botulinum toxin injections is reducing facial wrinkles and smoothing fine lines on the skin, including frown lines, horizontal forehead lines, and crow's feet. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of botulinum toxin for cosmetic purposes in 2002 under the brand name Botox. This led to the use of Botox for the treatment of the glabellar complex muscles responsible for the formation of frown lines.

Botulinum toxin is a powerful protein that works by blocking the release of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, leading to muscle relaxation. Wrinkles occur due to skin thinning and repetitive muscle contractions underneath the skin. 

Injecting small amounts of botulinum toxin into these muscles relaxes them, smoothing the skin, reducing wrinkles, and resulting in a more youthful and rejuvenated appearance. This is the reason Botox has been proven to be the big guy in the battle against aging.

According to a 2014 article by the American Family Physician, botulinum toxin injections for treating facial wrinkles are the most common cosmetic procedure in the United States. While its utilization extends to the lower portion of the face, such as the cheeks, nose, mouth, chin, and jawline, it can be a more complex procedure and may require advanced techniques.

How long does Botox treatment last?

Does Botox last forever? The answer is no. Different individuals have different experiences with the use of Botox. But generally, the effect of Botox treatment lasts about 3–4 months. 

However, there are factors that affect how long Botox treatment lasts, such as:

  • The dosage of botox injection
  • The patient’s muscle strength
  • Metabolism
  • The treated area

Some patients may experience varying durations of effectiveness, ranging from 2 to 6 months. It is common for individuals to notice differences in longevity between treatments, with some lasting longer than others. 

Additionally, first-time recipients may observe that the initial effects may not endure as long but could potentially extend with subsequent treatments.

This is why treatment plans must be individualized and why open communication between patients and healthcare providers is necessary to ensure the best results and manage expectations.

Is it safe to use Botox as part of a beauty routine?

Botox treatment is generally safe, and individuals can incorporate it into their skin and beauty routine. However, it should only be carried out by a qualified healthcare professional. 

It is very important to approach treatment with caution and awareness because there are potential risks and side effects, which are outlined below. 

If you're considering including Botox in your beauty routine, make sure to always have it done by a qualified professional rather than by yourself or an unqualified person.

What to expect during a Botox procedure

If you have received an appointment for a cosmetic botox procedure, here is what you may expect:

  • Your aesthetician or healthcare practitioner will clean the site to be injected and apply a numbing cream to it to reduce pain.
  • They will instruct you to move specific muscles, e.g., facial muscles, to assist in identifying the optimal injection locations.
  • They will use a fine needle to inject botulinum toxin into the muscles in the target area.

A botox procedure typically lasts approximately 10 minutes.

What to expect after a Botox treatment

Keep in mind that after the Botox treatment:

  • Immediate results may not be visible. 
  • It usually takes 2 or 3 days for the effects to begin, with the full impact becoming noticeable within 2 to 3 weeks.
  •  You may experience slight skin bumps at the injection site, but these should disappear before you leave the doctor’s office or medical procedure room. 
  • Additionally, mild bruising may occur, but it typically resolves within 24-48 hours.

Patients are usually provided with instructions on post-treatment care and activities to avoid for the next 24 hours, such as refraining from massaging or rubbing the face for 3 days and avoiding strenuous exercise, sun exposure (including tanning beds), and sauna use for 2 days.

The effects of botox are typically sustained for approximately 3 to 4 months. If opting for a repeat of botulinum toxin injections, it is advisable to wait at least 3 months between treatments. Overuse of the treatment may diminish its effectiveness.

Risks or side effects of Botox

While botox is considered safe, it is not devoid of risks and side effects, though they have been reported to be few. Minor side effects experienced with the use of Botox include:

  • Swelling or redness at the injection site
  • Temporary bruising
  • Headaches
  • Flu-like symptoms (like fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea)
  • Temporary weakness or drooping of nearby muscles

Serious complications from Botox procedures, which are rare but require immediate medical attention, include:

When to consider getting Botox

Given the applications of Botox injections, both cosmetically and medically, one should consider a Botox procedure if they:

  • Notice the development of fine lines and wrinkles on your face, particularly in areas such as the forehead, between the eyebrows, or around the eyes
  • Are bothered by excessive sweating, such as in the underarms or palms of the hands
  • Experience chronic migraines and have not found relief with other treatments
  • Have muscle spasms or stiffness due to conditions like cervical dystonia or blepharospasm
  • Want to improve the appearance of facial asymmetry or correct certain facial features, such as a gummy smile or downturned mouth corners
  • Have overactive bladder symptoms that have not responded to other treatments

Botox has a wide range of applications, from reducing facial wrinkles to treating medical conditions like migraines and muscle spasms.

In as much as Botox is regarded as a safe procedure, the importance of getting this procedure done by a professional in the field cannot be overemphasized. Always consult a healthcare professional for informed decision-making regarding your health.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does Botox on the lips last?

Botox injections targeting the lips typically last around three to four months, similar to other facial areas. The duration of effects may vary depending on factors such as dosage, muscle activity, and individual metabolism.

Does Botox last longer the second time?

Some individuals may experience longer-lasting results with subsequent Botox treatments. As muscles become conditioned to remain relaxed over time, the interval between treatments may be extended, resulting in more prolonged effects.

How often should you get Botox?

The frequency of Botox treatments depends on individual factors, including the desired outcomes, metabolism, muscle activity, and treatment area.


  1. Nigam & Nigam (2010). Botulinum Toxin
  2. Witmanowski & Blochowiak (2019). The whole truth about botulinum toxin – a review
  3. MedlinePlus. (2017). Botox 
  4. Rebecca Small (2014). Botulinum Toxin Injection for Facial Wrinkles 
  5. National Health Service. (2022). Botulinum toxin injections, such as Botox
  6. Smita Ramanadham (2019). How long does Botox last?