Myth Buster: Smoothing misconceptions about Botox and dermal fillers

Have you ever been curious about Botox or other injectable treatments, but shied away from using them to help you look your best?

Botox and soft tissue fillers are among some of the most popular minimally invasive procedures with more than 8 million procedures, performed in 2012, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. ASPS member Dr. Samina Wahhab of Allentown said misconceptions persist about these safe, non-surgical cosmetic options.

Myth: Botox injections freeze your face and expressions.

Despite what you might have heard about Botox treatments, they don’t completely freeze your facial muscles. “That’s just Hollywood joking around,” Wahhab says. “The ‘frozen face’ is not really possible. The fact of the matter is Botox does not have the capacity to make a face completely frozen.” Wahhab points out the goal of a Botox injection is to soften the lines without changing the overall facial expressions. “The idea is the lines don’t stay when you relax your face,” she says. “You can still bring your brows together, but when they relax the crease isn’t there.”

Myth: Patients develop an addiction to Botox.

Wahhab says Botox isn’t addictive, but to continue to look their best, patients need to continue the treatments. If the treatments are stopped the patient will return to his or her baseline — the starting point before any treatments. “Once you’ve had a good treatment, you want to repeat it,” she says. “People tend to come back because they like the effects.”

Myth: Botox is a dangerous toxin.

Even though botulinum toxin type A is toxic in large amounts, what is used in cosmetic procedures is extremely minimal and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Myth: People will know you’ve had dermal filler injections.

Unlike the common perception that a dermal filler will be instantly noticeable because of a drastic change in appearance, the injections are usually used to enhance or for very subtle changes. “They’re typically not used to create a completely different look,” Wahhab says. “It’s unusual for people to come in and ask for large lips, for example.” Wahhab says the goal of dermal fillers is to replace lost volume or enhance areas where the volume is depleted.

Myth: Dermal filler injections are painful.

Wahhab says patients may feel minimal discomfort during the procedure, but once it’s done, there’s no discomfort.

Myth: It’s more cost effective and better to use permanent fillers than going for treatments every six to 12 months.

“There’s nothing ever permanent,” Wahhab says, pointing out the FDA has approved just one permanent filler and there have been a lot of health complications with it. “It’s not worth the risk,” she says. “You’d have reoccurrence of the lines eventually.”

Fact: Wahhab cautions anyone who is considering Botox or fillers to make sure they go to a physician familiar with their use and who uses FDA-approved substances, instead of someone looking to cash in on the lucrative cosmetic industry. “There are unlicensed people using various things as fillers that are not made to be injected into the human body,” she says.

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