Dr. Kirby's Blog

How Much BOTOX® Do I Need? 6 Tips to Demystify the Dosage Question

Young Woman Getting BOTOX Injections in Forehead

Are you interested in BOTOX® Cosmetic, but feel lost when it comes to understanding how much you might need? With so much conflicting information about BOTOX® making its way around, figuring out how much BOTOX it takes to treat frown lines and other facial wrinkles can be a bit perplexing, especially if you’re new to this popular injectable treatment.

While the optimal amount of BOTOX® for any patient can only be determined in consultation with a qualified provider, a basic understanding of how BOTOX® works can help you cut through the confusion about what goes into the decision about “how much.”

Follow these tips when researching your treatment options, and you will be well on your way to a better BOTOX® experience:

1. Choose your provider wisely.
A plastic surgeon has a trained aesthetic eye and possesses firsthand knowledge of facial anatomy and how your facial muscles work. It is important to receive proper evaluation of your specific facial anatomy and create a custom plan for your BOTOX® administration. Our providers work directly under Dr. Kirby’s supervision and guidance to determine how much BOTOX® you need and be able to help you achieve your goals.

2. Have a realistic budget in mind.
A reputable provider will be able to tell you what he or she charges for BOTOX® before you schedule treatment. The safest bet is to choose someone who prices BOTOX® per unit, not per area. This way you know exactly how much BOTOX® you are receiving (and paying for) with each treatment. To get a ballpark idea of how much to budget for BOTOX treatment, multiply the number of units recommended by the price per unit, keeping in mind that you may need a little more or less than the average patient. Consider asking if the office has any upcoming special BOTOX® pricing events.

3. Understand what a “BOTOX® unit” really means.
BOTOX® targets dynamic wrinkles—those formed by repeated muscle movements that make our facial expressions. Botox® works by temporarily blocking nerve signals to a specific muscle, thus preventing the wrinkle-making muscle from moving. BOTOX® is measured in “units” based on strength. This unit is unique to BOTOX®; you cannot compare 1 BOTOX® unit to the measurement used for any other product. One unit is the amount of BOTOX® it takes to achieve a specific level of blockade of the nerve responsible for muscle contraction.

4. Don’t bother counting your wrinkles.
BOTOX® is not injected into the wrinkle; it is injected into the muscle that causes the wrinkle. Each muscle requires a certain number of units of BOTOX® to relax the muscle enough to keep a wrinkle from forming. Charts outlining the recommended amount of BOTOX® for a specific area show the range of units needed for relaxation of the muscle.

5. Get the recommended dose.
Whether or not it is your first treatment, you need to get the right dose to see the desired results. Attempting to save money by undertreating an area will only be a waste of your time and money. For example, if you need 20 units for your glabellar (frown) lines, getting 10 units will not make them look 50% better. Ten units will probably not make much of a difference in your appearance, and the extra injections you end up needing to fix the results could end up costing you more in the long run. If your budget does not allow for the full dose, you are better off choosing treatment areas you can afford.

6. Don’t compare yourself to your friend.
The right amount of BOTOX® is not the same for everyone. The exact number of units for full treatment is customized for each individual person. A number of factors, including your gender, the areas you would like to treat, the natural strength of your facial muscles, and other factors all influence the amount of BOTOX® you will need.

If you are new to BOTOX®, expect conservative treatment the first time around. The goal is to get as close as possible to the optimal amount of BOTOX® without over-treating an area. It is better to return to the office for touch-ups than to receive too much, in which case there is little to do but wait 2-4 months for the effects to wear off. The goal with BOTOX® treatment is to diminish wrinkles while still being able to make normal facial expressions.

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