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Are Anti-Wrinkle Injections the Same as Botox?

Facial wrinkles can be one of the earliest and most troubling signs of the ageing process. Because of the prominence of our faces, they will most likely be the first thing that you notice whenever you see yourself, and that others will notice throughout the day. While women have some options to disguise these symptoms through makeup, this can be an imperfect solution, and certainly, as women continue to age, these symptoms will grow in prominence. Wrinkles in themselves do not indicate signs of poor health or lack of proper nutrition; they are merely a natural and inevitable side effect of the process of ageing. However, they can nonetheless produce many unwanted side effects, including self-consciousness and lack of self-confidence, and they can have an on-going negative impact on one’s overall wellbeing. No one wants to feel old, but wrinkles can have an early on-set and make us feel much older than we are. Fortunately, there are many new, safe and effective treatments to help minimise and improve these ageing signs, and treatments can range from a facelift to simple, quick and non-invasive treatments that can also provide long-lasting results but which allow individuals to avoid or delay more invasive procedures until they become absolutely necessary, if ever. Two prominent types of non-invasive treatments commonly used to treat wrinkles are anti-wrinkle injection neuromodulators, such as Botox, and fillers; these treatment work differently but both can provide individuals with relief from their symptoms.

What is a neuromodulator?

A neuromodulator is a class of injectables which arrest the normal function of facial muscles into which they are injected. Their effects may last months before additional injections are required to continue their desired effects. The most common, widely-used and longest used neuromodulator — although there are now other brands on the market — is Botox. AHPRA regulations prohibit the mention of this treatment by brand name in promotional materials; however, its mention is allowable in educational contexts, as in this article. Not all anti-wrinkle injections are performed using Botox, but it is one of a number of TGA-cleared anti-wrinkle injection products currently available on the market.

How do neuromodulators work?

Wrinkles form in one of two ways. One kind of wrinkle is called a dynamic wrinkle. These wrinkles are the result of muscles repeatedly impacting the skin. You see these kinds of wrinkles form every time you smile, laugh or even sneeze. The skin between the eyebrows and around the eyes wrinkles as our facial muscles create these natural and frequent expressions. Over time, with the continual action of these muscles on our skin, these wrinkles can become permanent and increase in prominence and severity. A neuromodulator, by limiting muscle function, can improve the appearance and further development of wrinkles in two ways. First, as the muscle relaxes, its impact on the skin is minimised, thus minimising the resultant wrinkle. Second, the inhibited muscle movement prevents the deepening of the wrinkle, keeping it from becoming more pronounced and limiting its impact on your overall facial appearance as well as its emotional impact.

How do fillers work?

Fillers work differently than anti-wrinkle injections and treat a different kind of wrinkle. In contrast to dynamic wrinkles which develop as a result of muscle action, static wrinkles typically develop as a result of age-related volume loss and deterioration of skin tone over time. As we age, vital compounds in our skin known as collagen and elastin begin to become depleted as our bodies produce less of these substances over time. As a result, our skin loses much of the underlying structures which support its elasticity, tone and hydration. This inevitably leads to fine lines, wrinkles and crêpey-looking skin. Fat loss, responsible for the youthful volume of our faces, also occurs and contributes to the aged look of facial skin. Fillers combat these dual process by returning lost volume to the face, restoring a more youthful fullness, and by filling static wrinkles, smoothing them and minimising their appearance so that skin once again looks toned and youthful. Many fillers also contain a form of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring compound in the body, which also promotes volume by attracting water molecules, helping the skin look and feel more hydrated and rejuvenated. Although fillers work in a different manner than anti-wrinkle injections such as neuromodulators, they can safely and effectively treat facial ageing signs either as a primary treatment or part of a more comprehensive treatment plan.

What results can I expect from each treatment? 

Each treatment will improve facial ageing symptoms such as fine lines, wrinkles and crêpey skin, smoothing these features and providing natural revolumisation, hydration and improved skin tone and elasticity. The rejuvenation achieved by these treatments will also be long-lasting, though not as long-lasting as more invasive treatments, such as a facelift, mini facelift or brow lift. Still, individuals can enjoy months of rejuvenation before any necessary follow-ups are recommended. Further, since every individual will respond differently to these treatments, you may find that you can enjoy more time between follow-up appointments than is typically recommended. Most often, however, people who have these treatments will require touch-ups every three months in the case of a neuromodulator treatment and every six to 18 months in the case of fillers, depending on which particular type of filler was selected.

So which treatment is right for me? 

The good news is that you can enjoy improvements to signs of facial ageing from both treatment options. However, as we’ve laid out, each treatment is ideal for treating wrinkles with different development patterns. The right treatment to have will depend, in large part on the type or types of wrinkles you have. In fact, it is not uncommon for a comprehensive course of treatment for facial ageing to include both types of treatment in order to achieve the maximum rejuvenation and length of results. Also, there are many different types of fillers suited to treat different areas and features of the face. For example, certain fillers will have a much finer composition in order to improve the more delicate skin of the lips or around the mouth, while other fillers will have a higher density to treat deeper or more substantial wrinkles, such as the nasolabial folds or marionette lines. Again, it is most likely that a comprehensive rejuvenation plan will include multiple forms of treatment — even if only anti-wrinkle fillers are used — to produce the most rejuvenating, attractive and long-lasting results. All of these factors point to the crucial need to seek out an in-personal consultation with a skilled clinician who has significant experience using a wide array of treatments to improve facial ageing symptoms. A full-examination along with a discussion of your goals and expectations is also a primary contributor to creating a successful rejuvenation plan that will address your key concerns in the short-term, anticipate future concerns and provide you long-term results with safety. A competent provider can give you multiple options to choose from, share with you examples of the results of previous patients, help you select the best course of treatment and, of course, deliver the anticipated results.