Can BOTOX really change the shape of your face?
BOTOX (botulinum toxin) is part of our culture now—after decades of use for cosmetic purposes. As most of you know, it works by neutralizing the ability of certain muscles to contract, when injected carefully into various areas of the face and/or body.
It’s most popular for eliminating the frown lines between the eyebrows and the finer lines around the eyes known as crow’s feet. But BOTOX is also an often-used treatment for a growing list of cosmetic and medical needs, which include:
- Softening lines around the mouth
- Smoothing the neck
- Lifting the nasal tip
- Raising the browline for a nonsurgical forehead lift
- Treating excessive underarm sweating
- Reducing migraine pain
- Treating certain muscle disorders
Now, also growing in popularity is BOTOX for jaw slimming. Can BOTOX really change the shape of your face? Well, yes, temporarily. It can even set the stage for a permanent change.
How does BOTOX work?
BOTOX and other neurotoxins work by stopping the nerves that cause muscles to contract. If you flex your bicep, you’ll notice that it appears much more distinct than when it is relaxed.
You also have muscles all over your face; the most prominent ones are involved in the action of chewing. Many people are just born with more prominent jaws.
And people with moderate jaws may develop a more prominent, or larger- appearing jaw, due to changes in their overall body over time and daily habits. Patients who are disturbed by this type of a jawline often complain of a “flared” look at the bottom of the face.
Teeth grinding, clenching, and chewing
These are some of the most common culprits in cases of people who’ve developed larger jaw muscles.
- Some people don’t even realize they have a teeth grinding problem, because it often occurs during sleep. Dentists can assist with minimizing the damage to teeth often caused by this condition.
- Some people have a habit of clenching the jaw muscles frequently throughout the day, in response to stress or to concentrate on a task.
- And, some people develop larger jaw muscles by chewing gum all the time.
BOTOX relaxes the jaw muscle
Carefully placed injections of BOTOX will relax the jaw muscle to a degree. Patients are still able to chew, of course, but the degree to which they’re able to clench is diminished, allowing the muscle to rest and settle down.
This procedure is also medically known as masseter reduction with BOTOX (referring to the muscle that plays a major role in the chewing of solid foods).
When the jaw muscle relaxes (similar to the example of the flexed bicep), the appearance of the tissue around the jaw area also changes. In many cases, there is a noticeable reduction in the size of the jaw area. It will appear smoother and less prominent. The angle of the jaw may appear altered; a sharp square angle can be softened. As a result, in many cases, the shape of the face does change to one with a gentler angle and a more oval appearance.
How long will it last?
As with most BOTOX treatments, the results are temporary and may need to be repeated every 3 to 6 months to maintain the results. Over a period of time though, the affected muscles may shrink, displaying an actual reduction in bulk or size. After a number of treatments, the muscles may relax to a point where fewer treatments will be needed in the future.
(Note: Jaw reduction with BOTOX is effective and commonly performed. To date, it is still considered an “off-label” use of BOTOX—treatments not yet officially approved by the FDA—but are under study.)
It should also be noted that the results of face slimming, or jaw reduction with BOTOX, should not be compared with surgical reductions of the face and jawline. Those are much more complex procedures that result in permanent results.
Many patients are choosing to undergo injections to get a slimmer jaw, either as a trial run for further treatments or as a treatment that’s simple and meets their cosmetic goals on its own.
[Dr. Vincent Lepore is a board-certified plastic surgeon in San Jose. In addition to a full range of cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries, Dr. Lepore performs non-surgical & injectable procedures, including Botox Jaw Reduction. Please call us at 408-356-4241, or contact us to schedule a consultation. Cosmetic consultations are offered free of charge.]