I was reading up on Botox and its effects the other day, trying to establish why some sources claim the drug is dangerous. I did find a few cases of adverse effects reported to the FDA between 1989 and 2003; there were 36 in total. In 13 of those cases, the adverse effects were brought on by an underlying condition, not the Botox itself.
Another study I found, from 2005 this time, confirmed that Botox is more likely to have adverse side effects if used therapeutically. Botox, in itself, is safe when administered correctly by a professional. However, one of the requirements of using Botox caught me a little off-guard: the part where you’re not supposed to exercise after a Botox treatment.
Why shouldn’t you exercise after Botox?
Exercising after Botox reduces its effect on the injection zone. It happens because exercise escalates the rate of blood circulation in the body, increasing the possibility of the drug moving to other areas of the body. Exercise may also increase the chances of the Botox acting on areas other than the injection zone, causing adverse side effects.
I realized that there are a lot of ways Botox can be ineffective or even harmful, and they stem from what you do or don’t do after the treatment. A lot of research later, I was able to dig up a little more information, such as how Botox works, what else you shouldn’t do after treatment, and how long you should wait before you can start exercising after a Botox injection.
Table of Contents
- 1 How Does Botox Work?
- 2 Things to Avoid Doing After Botox
- 3 What You Should Do Instead
- 4 When Can You Start Exercising Again?
- 5 When to Avoid Botox
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 References Used in This Article
How Does Botox Work?
Botox comes from a toxin known as botulinum type A, which is produced by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. Curiously, this toxin is responsible for a fatal type of food poisoning—botulism. However, the amount of toxin consumed plus the kind of exposure accounts for most of the damage it does. In the case of Botox injections, the toxin works in tiny doses that target specific areas.
Botox’s most popular use is to relax muscles that cause frown lines, forehead creases, smile lines, and crow’s feet. It is also a form of treatment for various underlying muscular disorders, which create conditions like eye twitching, migraines, hyperhidrosis (too much sweating), cervical dystonia (neck spasms), lazy eye, and cerebral palsy.
When administered, Botox blocks nerve signals to the muscles of the injection zone. Blocking these signals prevents those muscles from contracting, therefore reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. After a few days, the wrinkles disappear entirely or given more treatment until they do.
Things to Avoid Doing After Botox
After learning how Botox works, it is easy to understand how some activities may compromise the treatment’s effectiveness. For instance, your face gets flushed when you exercise because more blood flows through it. It takes a few hours for the Botox treatment to work, so doing anything that might cause circulation to spread the drug to other areas before then may affect the outcome of the procedure.
Apart from exercise, here are some other things you should avoid after a Botox treatment.
Massaging the Injection Site
It is not uncommon to feel uncomfortable around the area after the procedure. Although it may be tempting to rub or massage the area, it is advisable not to touch the area. Your skin needs time to recover, and should be left alone; otherwise, you risk affecting the quality of the outcome.
Alcohol may react adversely to the injection, causing visible bruises to appear on the injection site. Avoid consuming large amounts of alcohol for at least the ten days needed for the treatment to take effect fully. You should also not consume alcohol a few days before your procedure. However, if you must, you can drink alcohol in small quantities 24 hours after the treatment.
Lying Down on Your Face
It takes about four hours for your skin to recover following a Botox injection. During this period, it is not advisable to take a nap as you’re likely to lie down on your face and affect the injection zone.
Strenuous Physical Activity
Other than exercise, you should also steer clear of any physically demanding activities that increase your heart rate. Do not undertake anything too strenuous for at least 24 hours following the treatment.
Touching the Injection Zone (for the first 6 hours at least)
Rubbing, scratching, dabbing, massaging, or otherwise coming into contact with the injection zone during the first six hours after the treatment is not recommended. Wait for six hours to pass (or as long as your doctor advises you) then gently wash the injection zone with soapy water.
Do not sunbathe or spend too much time under direct heat because it can exacerbate the swelling and redness of the injection site following a Botox treatment.
If you’re on medication such as blood thinners, it is advisable to discontinue the dosage during a Botox treatment until your doctor says it is safe to do so again. Blood-thinning medication includes aspirin, ginseng, Ginko Bilboa, Excedrin, Advil, and Omega-3. Please seek medical advice before trying Botox, as your doctor might advise against using Botox.
What You Should Do Instead
After the treatment, all you need to do is wait for the results to start showing. It may take as little as two days or as many as ten before you notice them. During this period, there are a few things you should do to help the treatment along.
Sit Upright for the First Few Hours
The first few hours following a Botox injection are the most crucial. You need to remain in an upright position for at least four hours to allow the Botox to bind to the facial muscles. Avoid any sudden vigorous movements. Find a comfortable sitting position and stay put to allow the medication to seep into the targeted muscles.
Apply an Ice Pack
An ice pack is recommended before, during, and after the Botox treatment. Cold temperatures not only lock in the injection, but they also slow down the rate of circulation, giving the Botox time to be absorbed into the muscle tissue. An ice pack may also ease your discomfort and reduce the swelling and redness that come after treatment.
Gentle Facial Exercises
Attempting to perform a few mild facial exercises can be beneficial. These engage the injected muscle area, which in turn makes the effects kick in much faster. In other words, performing mild facial expressions improves the uptake of the Botox injection.
Take Mild Painkillers
Should you feel too much pain, which is rare, it is okay to pop a couple of painkillers provided they are not in the list of blood thinners mentioned above. Paracetamol is a safe option that can ease mild pain. If the pain or discomfort is severe, contact your doctor immediately.
When Can You Start Exercising Again?
Here is a quick timeline on the aftercare procedures of the Botox injection:
- Hour 1 – 6: avoid strenuous physical activities such as exercise. Stay upright for a minimum of four hours to prevent the medication from migrating to other areas. Perform gentle facial exercises to increase the rate of the drug’s uptake.
- Hour 12: do not drink any alcohol. Avoid using makeup unless it is mineral makeup, and even then, only use a thin layer. Maintain your regular facial expression.
- Hour 48: avoid any tight-fitting headgear such as helmets or tight headbands. After washing your face with soap and water, dab lightly with a towel—do not rub.
- Hour 72: some light exercise is okay, but don’t do anything with a high risk of injury.
When to Avoid Botox
When should you avoid getting a Botox injection completely?
- When the area you want to treat is infected
- When you’re on blood-thinning medication that you can’t stop taking
- To treat an overactive bladder if you have a bladder infection or are unable to urinate
- When you’re allergic to Botox
If you start to experience signs such as:
- Trouble breathing, talking, and swallowing
- Loss of bladder control
- Muscle weakness
- Severe eye irritation and reduced vision, and;
- Droopy eyelids,
Contact your doctor immediately. These signs and symptoms suggest that the injection has spread to other areas. As a potent muscle relaxer, Botox can be lethal in more than small doses. Its side-effects, though rare, are often life-threatening.
Before getting any Botox treatments, it is advisable to know what to expect to prepare yourself appropriately.
- Choose a licensed physician to administer the treatment. They may cost more, but going to a doctor that’s not licensed increases the chances of experiencing side effects.
- Do not drink or take blood-thinning medication for a few days before the procedure. Use an ice pack on the target area as well.
- Be transparent about the medication you’re on, as well as other queries your doctor may have for you.
- Try to stay upright for at least four hours after the injection while practicing a few facial exercises to increase the drug’s uptake.
- Avoid strenuous exercises for at least 24 hours.
- Do not drink alcohol in large amounts for at least 48 hours.
- Do not touch, rub, massage, or scratch at the injected zone.
- Call your doctor in case of severe pain, difficulty moving, talking, breathing, or swallowing.
After looking through the research, it’s recommended not to do any exercise as it could have adverse effects; caused by the increased blood circulation.
Why would you want to spend the money on the botox treatment and then go and ruin the results? Run through the Botox above checklist for the best results.
References Used in This Article
- Botulinum toxin A (Botox Cosmetic): a review of its use in the treatment of glabellar frown lines.
- Botulinum toxin (Botox) A for reducing the appearance of facial wrinkles: a literature review of clinical use and pharmacological aspect
- Botox injections and side effects
- Checklist: Botox Do’s and Don’ts
- Top 8 Things You Shouldn’t Do Right After Botox Treatment