Botox or fillers: everything you should know
Even if you feel no different, the passing years can reveal themselves when you look in the mirror. It can be tempting to consider a quick way of turning back time and adverts for treatments such as Botox or dermal fillers are very persuasive.
As these treatments have become widely available and are much more affordable than cosmetic surgery, it’s important to understand what goes on during an appointment and what the effects of the procedure may be. This is for your information and is not advice or a recommendation.
What can I have done?
Botox and similar drugs, such as Dysport, are used to reduce lines and wrinkles. They do this by helping facial muscles to relax which makes crow’s feet and frown lines less obvious.
There are a whole range of dermal fillers that are used to plump up wrinkles and creases, and to increase the volume of cheeks and lips. They create a fuller, more youthful look.
All of these treatments are done by a series of injections into the skin of the face. Most of the results of the injections will be temporary, lasting from a few months to a couple of years.
What happens in the clinic?
Whatever you decide to have done, you will have a meeting with the practitioner who will treat you. They need to fully understand your medical history and reasons for wanting the treatment. In both cases, they should also tell you what to do if something goes wrong.
With Botox, you probably won’t need a local anaesthetic. Your skin will be cleaned and botulinum toxin injected into the muscles of your face. The number and location of the injections will depend on the area you want to treat.
The injections are mildly uncomfortable and the whole treatment will take around 10 minutes.
If you are having dermal fillers, you may be offered a local anaesthetic. Treatments take between 30 minutes and an hour and the practitioner may massage the area during treatment.
Different kinds of fillers come with different risks and the effects can be expected to last for different lengths of time.
Collagen lasts three to four months
Hyaluronic acid lasts four to six months
Calcium hydroxylapatite lasts about 18 months
Poly-L-lactic acid lasts for up to two years
Polymethylmethacrylate beads are permanent, but come with additional risks
What outcome can I expect?
Clinics offering Botox suggest that you are likely to get a more youthful appearance after a few days. The effect will last for between four and six months.
If you have dermal fillers, your face may be a little swollen, tender and red for 24 hours. During that time, you may be advised to avoid coffee, alcohol, hot drinks and the sun. Depending on the filler used, the effects can start to wear off after three months. After a couple of days, you should look smoother and seemingly more ‘youthful’.
Are there any risks?
The risks associated with Botox and dermal fillers depend very much on whether the procedure was done correctly and the kind of drug used. Permanent fillers are the riskiest and some experts suggest they should be avoided.
Risks of fillers include:
Rashes, swelling, itching and bruising
The filler moving from the treatment area over time
Lumps forming under the skin
A blocked blood vessel (although this is rare)
Risks of Botox include:
Feeling unwell with flu-like symptoms for the first day or so
Droopiness of facial features
A serious reaction to the drug (rare)
How much does it cost?
Neither Botox nor dermal fillers are available on the NHS.
Botox injections cost on average £150 to £350 per session, depending on what you are having done.
Facial fillers cost around £150 to £300 a session, depending on what you are having done.
Is it a good idea?
That depends on what you hope to achieve. While Botox and dermal fillers may address specific issues, they will not reverse all of the effects of ageing.
There’s also the risk of side effects or that the treatment will not have the desired effect.
What are my next steps?
If you are sure you want to have Botox injections or dermal fillers, it’s important you find a trained professional to carry out the treatment. Take your time, read reviews, meet the practitioner, ask all the questions you need – don’t be rushed into anything.
Consult professional organisations to find registered treatments in your area.
You should also talk to your GP for recommendations.