Tox has transformed the world of cosmetic procedures and remains one of the most popular anti-aging treatments sought after today. With its ability to smooth facial wrinkles and creases for several months at a time, Tox offers patients a way to turn back the clock without undergoing surgery. But how exactly does it work to rejuvenate skin? Is the treatment safe? How much does it cost per unit and does insurance cover any of that? This comprehensive guide will explore all of your most pressing questions about Tox injections.
What is Tox?
Tox is a popular cosmetic treatment that reduces or eliminates wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing the muscles under the skin that cause wrinkles. The active ingredient in Tox is botulinum toxin, a purified protein produced by Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium. When injected into muscles, Tox blocks nerve signals to those muscles, causing them to relax. This relaxation smooths out overlying skin and softens lines and wrinkles.
Tox is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cosmetic use in the glabella area (the lines between the eyebrows) as well as other areas of the face and neck. When skillfully administered, Tox can temporarily reduce the appearance of forehead creases, frown lines, crow’s feet near the eyes, and bands in the neck. Results typically last 3-6 months.
How does Tox work?
Tox works by blocking nerve signals to the muscle in which it is injected. The active ingredient, botulinum toxin, prevents the release of a chemical called acetylcholine from nerve endings. This causes the muscle to become paralyzed or relaxed. The overlying skin then smooths out, because the muscle can no longer contract and cause wrinkles.
It takes about 2-14 days to take full effect. Results are temporary, lasting approximately 3-6 months on average. This is because over time the body starts to regain muscle function and acetylcholine signals return, allowing contraction and eventual reappearance of wrinkles. Repeat treatments can sustain smoother skin.
Is Tox safe? What are the side effects?
When performed correctly by an experienced, licensed provider, Tox treatments are considered very safe with few side effects. The most common side effects are temporary and may include:
- Pain, swelling, bruising, redness at the injection site
- Drooping eyelid (usually resolves in a few weeks)
- Minor facial asymmetry
- Nausea (rare)
More serious but very rare side effects can occur if Tox spreads to other areas beyond where it is injected. This can cause muscle weakness, trouble breathing or swallowing, flu-like symptoms, and loss of bladder control. Seek medical care immediately if any of these occur.
To reduce the risk of complications and side effects, choose an experienced provider to administer your Tox.
What areas can be treated with Tox?
The FDA has approved using Tox for cosmetic treatment of:
- Glabellar lines (between the eyebrows)
- Crow’s feet (lateral areas of the eyes)
- Forehead lines
- Frown lines
- Bunny lines (wrinkles on sides of the nose)
- Neck bands
Tox can also be injected in other areas of the upper face to reduce wrinkles. Off-label uses include softening lines/wrinkles around the mouth, lowering raised brows, lifting the corners of the mouth, and reducing a “gummy” smile.
An experienced provider may customize the injections to treat your particular areas of concern and achieve a naturally rejuvenated appearance.
How long does it take to see Tox results?
Patients can expect to see Tox results develop gradually over 2-14 days after the injections. Results tend to peak at around Day 14. Full effects are apparent within 1 month.
It may take a few treatments for the provider to understand exactly how your facial muscles respond to Tox. Communicate with your provider at follow-up visits regarding the results you want to fine tune the procedure.
How long do Tox results last?
Individual results depend on many factors – the number of units injected, your metabolism, lifestyle choices – but on average, the smoothing effects from Tox injections last approximately 3-6 months.
With repeated Tox treatments every 3-6 months, results may tend to last slightly longer as facial muscles respond better to the relaxer. The benefits of Tox are temporary, as nerve signaling will gradually regain strength and contracted muscles cause lines/wrinkles to reappear. This is safe, as the Tox completely wears off. Maintaining improvements requires additional treatments.
I’ve never had Tox. How many units will I need?
If it is your first Tox treatment, your provider will assess your facial muscles and structure before determining how many units are appropriate. The number can vary widely based on treatment goals. Forehead lines generally require 10-25 units, while crow’s feet may need 5-15 units per side.
Be sure you understand the “cost per unit”, as you will be paying for the total number of units injected. Remember, less is often more with first-time Tox to maintain a natural appearance. Your provider may start conservatively then suggest additional units during a follow-up appointment to achieve optimal smoothing.
Does getting Tox hurt?
Most patients tolerate Tox injections very well. Because the needles used are very thin, the discomfort is usually minimal. No anesthesia is required.
To make things even more comfortable, many providers use ice packs before and after the procedure to numb the skin. They may also manually apply pressure or use vibration tools to distract the area being injected. These techniques can make the injections nearly painless.
Applying a topical anesthetic cream before injections is also an option to reduce sensation. For treatment around the eyes or another sensitive area, your provider may offer a local anesthetic injection to numb the region if needed. This combined approach maximizes comfort.
Take slow deep breaths and try to relax as much as possible during the short procedure. Most patients state that the injections feel like quick pinpricks. The sting is often less painful than anticipated.
Does insurance cover the cost of Tox?
Unfortunately for those seeking cosmetic improvement of wrinkles, Tox is considered an elective procedure by most insurance companies when used to reduce the appearance of aging. Thus, you’ll be paying cash for cosmetic injectables rather than using your health insurance coverage.
In some cases, Tox treatment for an overactive muscle or excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) may be deemed medically necessary and covered by health insurance with proper documentation. Talk to your provider about claims paperwork if you feel your treatment might qualify under such medical criteria.
Hopefully this overview gave you the answers needed to make an informed decision about whether to pursue Tox injections. Don’t hesitate to discuss all your questions in more detail during an initial consultation.