Botox is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments in the United States, where the American Society of Plastic Surgeons says nearly 800,000 people underwent Botox injections in the year 2000. Botox is famous for its effectiveness of making facial lines and wrinkles disappear, but concerns have been raised about what the long-term side effects of Botox use might be.

The Facts

Botox was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1990. Botox’s original purpose was to help treat muscle spasms in the eye area, but its wrinkle-erasing effects were quickly noted and promoted.

Eighty-eight percent of the people who use Botox are women, and 59 percent of people who use Botox are older than 35, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Botox treatments currently cost an average of $366.00 per session, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, but they can cost as much as $1,000.00 per session.

How It Works

Botox is a name for botulinum toxin, a serum derived from Clostridium botulinum bacteria. When Botox enters the muscle, via injection, it blocks the muscle’s nerve signals, preventing the muscles from contracting so that the muscle is temporarily paralyzed. This paralysis lasts for a few months; while the muscle is frozen the surrounding wrinkles disappear. Botox is used to treat lines around the eyes, mouth and other fine lines and wrinkles in the face and neck.


Botox works to reduce the appearance of wrinkles for 85 percent of users younger than 50 and for about 70 percent of adults between 50 and 65.

The results of Botox usually last between three and four months. The procedure must be repeated to maintain the effects.

Long-Term Benefits

It’s possible that in the long-term, repeated use of Botox may permanently paralyze the muscles so that wrinkles and lines take longer to reappear.

Long-Term Risks

Because Botox has only been approved by the FDA since 1990, researchers have not had the opportunity to explore all of its potential long-term side effects. It is simply too early for scientists to be able to tell whether single or repeated muscle paralysis caused by Botox will cause long-term damage.

In the short term, risks associated with Botox use include headache, bruising and weakness. In some cases, patients may experience nausea, redness or pain at the injection site and—rarely—drooping eyelids.