What is Botulinum Toxin and How Does it Work?

Posted by Dr Theva in Anti-Aging, Injectables.

You could argue that in the last few years or so anti-wrinkle injections (botulinum toxin injections) have become a taboo topic. When people think of the treatment, most likely they associate it with celebrities who have too tight a face or unnaturally smooth skin.  

While botulinum toxin injections may be commonly known for their usefulness as a cosmetic anti-aging treatment, it’s not actually what the original intention of the substance was for. If you dig a little deeper, you might be surprised at how many uses the substance has in many other areas of medicine. 

What is Botulinum Toxin and How Does it Work?

What is Botulinum Toxin? Is it Safe?

The history behind the medical use of botulinum toxin is fascinating. 

Botulinum toxin is derived from a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum and is one of the most dangerous substances known to mankind. 

Clostridium botulinum was first discovered by a Belgian scientist following a botulism outbreak in Belgium and by 1970 a purified and isolated form of the bacteria was being used medically to treat people with crossed eyes. 

While researchers were testing the effectiveness of the treatment on monkeys, they noticed that botulinum toxin reduced wrinkles in the glabella area (the frown lines between your eyes). But it wasn’t until 2002 that it was finally approved by the FDA to be used cosmetically as an anti-wrinkle treatment. 

In the wild, infection with Clostridium botulinum causes botulism, which is a life-threatening bacterial illness. But in a small purified controlled dose, like those used in the application of anti-wrinkle injections, it’s considered safe.

How do Botulinum Toxin Injections Work for Wrinkles?

Repeated muscle contractions are one of the many causes of wrinkles on the face. Botulinum toxin injections (anti-wrinkle injections) work by temporarily disabling the facial muscles that cause wrinkles. Specifically, those associated with crow’s feet, the wrinkles at the corner of your eyes, and the frown lines between your eyes. The botulinum toxin does this by directly blocking the facial nerves that tell your muscles to contract.

Once injected, the muscle is basically paralysed, leading to the reduction of so-called “dynamic wrinkles” or “movement lines” which are wrinkles that are only present when muscles contract. This is why anti-wrinkle injections are so effective for smile lines, forehead lines, frown lines and at the corner of the eyes (crow’s feet). These are generally the highest movement areas of your face. 

Because age lines and wrinkles are most often created by a loss of collagen and repetitive muscle movement, antiwrinkle injections slow the signs of ageing by limiting the muscle’s ability to contract and create new lines. 

As we get older and lose elasticity in our skin, a permanent crease can sometimes develop even when the muscle is relaxed. While anti-wrinkle treatments cannot erase these deep creases, they may help to soften them.

What can Botulinum Toxin be Used for?

Although it is a toxin, it has many helpful cosmetic and medical uses. When administered correctly by a cosmetic doctor and/or physician and in the proper dosage it’s considered very safe.

Medical Uses 

1. Corrects Strabismus

The earliest medical botulinum toxin uses were for treating certain eye disorders. One of these is strabismus, a condition that causes improper eye alignment i.e. crossed eyes.

2. Involuntary Blinking of the Eyes 

Although blepharospasm is a rare condition, it causes uncomfortable, uncontrollable blinking or twitching. 

Since botulinum toxin relaxes muscles, it can help reduce involuntary muscle movement. Very small doses of the toxin weaken the eyelid muscles. This then prevents the muscles from twitching.

3. Reduces Migraines and Headaches

Botulinum toxin can be injected into 7 specific muscle areas around your head and neck to help prevent migraine headaches or migraine attacks before they start. Areas include the forehead, bridge of the nose, the temples, the neck, the back of the head, and just above the shoulder blades in your upper back.

 botulinum toxin for excess sweating Hyperhidrosis

4. Excessive Sweating

Hyperhidrosis is abnormally excessive sweating that’s not necessarily related to heat or exercise. 

Normally, your nervous system activates your sweat glands when your body temperature rises. This is how your body automatically cools itself. In people with hyperhidrosis, however, the nerves that signal the sweat glands are overactive.

When you receive botulinum toxin injections directly into the area of your body that commonly sweats, your overactive nerves are essentially paralysed. When your nerves can’t signal your sweat glands, you don’t sweat. 

5.  Restraints an Overactive Bladder

Botulinum toxin injections work by calming the nerves that usually overstimulate your bladder muscles and lead to an urgent feeling of needing to urinate.

6. Teeth Grinding

If you’re treated with botulinum toxin for teeth grinding or bruxism, a small amount will be injected into the muscles responsible for moving your jaw – most likely the masseter muscle, which is responsible for chewing. The botulinum toxin will reduce clenching in the jaw and the associated jaw pain.

Cosmetic Injectables

Cosmetic Uses

Besides its amazing medical uses, botulinum toxin injections are also known for reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Hence why it is commonly referred to as anti-wrinkle injections.

The most common anti-wrinkle treatment areas on the face are:

Frown Lines
Forehead Lines
– Bunny Lines – Lines across the bridge of the nose.
– Crow’s Feet – Lines on the upper two-thirds of the lateral eye.
Chin – ‘Dents’ in the chin.
Gummy Smile – Smile with overexposure of the upper teeth and gums.
– Glabellar Lines – Vertical lines between the eyebrows that resemble the number 11.
Botulinum Toxin Results

How Long do Botulinum Toxin Injections Last?

After your treatment, results could be seen within 3-4 days but it usually takes up to 14 days for the full results to be visible. 

The neurotoxin does wear off over time, and your nerves will send signals to your muscles again to start contracting. 

On average, treatment effects last 3 to 4 months, though the longevity varies from person to person.

Botulinum Toxin Risks & Side Effects

As with any medical procedure, one can expect that there will be some side effects. Possible side effects include mild pain, bruising, swelling and redness.

Other risks are mild and uncommon.  The main risks consist of headaches, pain, and flu-like illness. In rare cases, there may be a drooping lid or eyebrow area. 

Knowing what you can expect is an important part of your decision to have botulinum toxin injections.

An experienced cosmetic doctor or physician should explain the procedure, possible side effects and how long they could last.

Most of these side effects are mild and temporary. Botulinum toxin, in the form of cosmetic anti-wrinkle injectable or medical injectable solution, is considered safe overall.

Free Consultation


I understand this is a big decision and you need to be certain. If you have any questions I have not covered, please contact me here or give me a call on 1300 883 850. I will personally get back to you as soon as I can.

Beauty is part of well-being. Rediscovering one’s natural beauty is a form of personal transformation. It enables you to be confident, transcending and to become the best version of yourself. All of which leads to life-changing possibilities that many seek.

I absolutely love what I do, and I love serving my clients to achieve this personal transformation.

Whatever your goals and desires are, I am here to help you achieve them.

I have used Anti-Wrinkle Injections (Botulinum Toxin Injections) treatments to help transform the lives of over 2400+ happy clients. I would love to create the same natural-looking result for you.

Look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve your desired outcome and be the best version of you.