Is Botox Effective for Treating Crow’s Feet?

Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, APRN on November 27, 2017Written by Kristeen Cherney

Overview

Botox injections are one of the most common types of outpatient procedures for crow’s feet. These facial wrinkles are the fan-like formations that develop near the outside corners of your eyes. They can be challenging to treat using home methods.

Despite the efficacy of Botox treatments, there’s a lot of information to consider before opting for these injections. Cost, frequency, and risk factors are just some of the concerns you might want to think about.

How does Botox work?

Botox is a muscle-relaxing treatment. It’s used for a variety of medical purposes, including eye twitching and excessive sweating. The injections work by stopping nerve signals from reaching the muscles so that they don’t contract as often.

Botox Cosmetic for wrinkles, according to the Mayo Clinic, is by far the most common use of the product. When using for crow’s feet, the injections relax muscles surrounding your eye corners, so your skin smooths out. The effects may be especially noticeable when you laugh.

What to expect when you have it done

Botox Cosmetic is injected directly around your crow’s feet with fine needles. Even if you tolerate shots well, your healthcare provider will likely recommend a topical anesthetic, such as ice, to first numb the area.

Once the skin around your eyes is numb, your healthcare provider will start the injection process. Since crow’s feet cover a small area of the face, the treatment itself will only take a few minutes.

The procedure may last longer if you opt to combine other treatment methods with Botox injections. Sometimes laser treatments are used in conjunction with Botox for crow’s feet.

Your healthcare provider will only need a small number of Botox units. Ethos Spa estimates a total of 10 units for eye wrinkles. These are divided in half, so you would have five units for each side. Allergan, the maker of Botox Cosmetic, recommends 24 units for optimum treatment of crow’s feet.

Is it effective?

Overall, it takes about three days for Botox injections to produce noticeable results around your eyes, according to the Mayo Clinic. The muscles surrounding your eyes may start relaxing after a few days. The results typically last three to four months. In order to maintain smoothness around your eyes, you’ll need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up injections every few months.

In a 2016 study of 1,362 patients who used Botox for crow’s feet, the results lasted for at least four months.

What you’ll pay

When considering Botox for crow’s feet, it’s important to prepare for the long-term costs associated with long-term use. Most healthcare providers will charge you based on how many units are needed, rather than the visit itself.

One facility in New Jersey estimates that Botox can range between $9 and $20 per unit. If you receive the average five units per eye, you can expect to pay $90 to $200 a visit. Note that your cost will vary depending on where you live and how many units you receive.

Insurance doesn’t cover Botox for crow’s feet because it’s not considered a medical treatment, but rather an elective cosmetic one.

Recovery timeline

The recovery time for Botox is short compared with other types of cosmetic procedures. Unless you start experiencing side effects at the healthcare provider’s office, you’re able to go home right after your injections.

At-home recovery is also straightforward. You can wear makeup and wash your face the same day. You can even go back to work, too. Be sure you don’t rub the skin around your eyes, though. This can cause the medication to move away from your crow’s feet.

Potential side effects to watch for

For many people with crow’s feet, Botox seems to be the most viable option because of its efficacy and short recovery time. Side effects are still possible, though. More serious risks are rare, but you still need to discuss these with your healthcare provider in advance. Overall, Dermatologic Surgery reports mild to moderate side effects in most people who use Botox for crow’s feet.

Once you leave your healthcare provider’s office, you might notice a little redness and swelling around your eyes. Small bruises are also possible. Such effects occur where your healthcare provider injected the Botox in the muscles surrounding your eyes. You shouldn’t experience widespread inflammation.

Other possible side effects include:

  • excessive tearing in your eyes
  • dryness (especially around the injection site)
  • droopy eyelids
  • crooked eyebrows
  • headaches

If you experience any of the following rare, but serious side effects, seek medical help right away:

  • muscle weakness that starts in your face and spreads to your body
  • bladder control issues
  • trouble with breathing
  • loss of speech or vision
  • problems swallowing food and drinks

Once you start Botox, it’s important to stick with it to receive maximum results. There are other types of medications available that offer similar effects, such as Myobloc, Dysport, and Xeomin. However, these medications can’t be used interchangeably because they’re all slightly different in terms of strength and dosage.

Other options for crow’s feet

It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about all the pros and cons of Botox Cosmetic. You can also discuss alternative treatments for crow’s feet, such as:

The bottom line

When used on a continuous basis, Botox may be an effective treatment for crow’s feet. Still, this method isn’t appropriate for everyone based on health history. Tell your healthcare provider if you currently take any medications or herbal supplements. They might ask you to discontinue them temporarily prior to the procedure to reduce your risk of side effects.

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