To Botox Or Not To Botox

How Long Does Botox Last? A Dermatologist Answers Your Newbie Questions

In case you’re wondering if it’s a worthwhile investment.

I don't know about you, but I can't look at my social media without seeing anyone and everyone getting Botox. No longer a dirty little secret among the rich and famous, getting Botox is now pretty much the equivalent of getting your bikini waxed: beauty maintenance. For some, it's even a necessity. So, maybe you've grown curious enough to consider it. But how long does Botox last? Because considering its price, the one question nagging your brain is whether it's a worthy investment.

"Most patients seeking Botox do so because they are either frustrated by signs of aging or hoping even to prevent the formation of wrinkles," Dr. Geeta Yadav, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Facet Dermatology, tells Scary Mommy. "Botox increases in popularity practically every year, but especially after the pandemic — many dermatologists call it the Zoom phenomenon; after years of looking at ourselves on camera, we're noticing things we'd like to tweak, including wrinkles."

If you're toeing the line of trying Botox but want to know how long it lasts before booking your appointment, you've come to the right place. We spoke with an expert to answer that pressing question and others. Read on for what you need to know about Botox.

First, what is Botox?

Botox is the brand name for botulinum toxin, an injectable lab-purified neurotoxin that inhibits muscle movement by freezing them. "Dermatologists use it to help temporarily paralyze the muscles responsible for the facial expressions that lead to wrinkles," Yadav explains. "As the muscles are relaxed, so too are the wrinkles on the overlying skin, which creates a smoother look."

Botox has become synonymous with the procedure in the same way Kleenex is with facial tissues, but other botulinum toxin brands — like Dysport, Xeomin, Jeuveau, and Daxxify — work similarly.

How long does Botox last?

According to Yadav, Botox tends to last about three to four months for most patients, though she points out every patient is unique. While Yadav admits Botox can be pricey, she says it might be worth it given its long-lasting effect. "It is a one-and-done treatment that lasts for around three months," she says. "While some people find that they want to get treated every time it wears off, others may only opt to be treated two or three times a year to save costs."

But word to the wise: Your wrinkles will return if you discontinue Botox, says Yadav, although they won't immediately reappear as soon as the treatment wears off — it will take a few weeks or so.

How much does Botox typically cost?

Yadav says the price of Botox or similar treatments varies by provider and how the treatment is structured. "It also depends on which area is being treated and how challenging that can be," she explains. "My clinic charges by area treated because we're most interested in the whole look we can provide rather than just the medication cost."

Just for fun, though, let's do the math. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of botulinum toxin injections is $528. If you go every three months, that averages out to $176 per month. If you can stretch it out four months, you're potentially looking at $132 per month.

The reality, says Yadav, is there really isn't a "cost-effective" treatment option that compares to botulinum toxin injections. "There is literally nothing that can do what Botox can — once a wrinkle has formed, it is not possible to completely 'erase' the look of it like Botox can," she says. "However, use of prescription-strengthen retinoids can help address the look of wrinkles, as can professional treatments like resurfacing lasers and micro-needling."

What are the potential side effects of Botox?

"The most common side effects are bruises and redness at the injection sites, headaches, and nausea," Yadav says. But the good news? "All of these wear off within a few hours or days of treatment." Occasionally, people experience rarer side effects, such as ptosis.

As for whether it hurts or not, Yadav says it's a little pinch if it feels like anything. If you're someone who's pain-averse (that would be me), she suggests opting for numbing cream, but "most patients do not find Botox particularly uncomfortable and choose to go without."

Who is Botox for?

Botox is for anyone who wants it and has the budget for it. If that's you, no judgment. If that's not you, no judgment. We're not shaming people for doing what makes them feel good about themselves, right?

"If you have wrinkles between the brows, around the eyes (crow's feet), and/or the forehead, and they bother you, Botox might be right for you," Yadav says, reassuring, "When administered by a skilled provider, Botox won't make you look different; you'll just look like a refreshed version of yourself."