A youthful appearance is a desirable trait among anyone who wishes to look their best. Smooth, wrinkle-free skin and a glowing complexion have captivated our culture for many years, with cosmetics companies and healthcare providers offering literally hundreds of solutions to reduce the signs of aging.

As we age, our skin can develop wrinkles as the underlying structures change over time. When wrinkles appear, many people explore the possibilities of cosmetic treatments, particularly in the class of treatments known as “wrinkle relaxers”. In this article, several wrinkle relaxation treatments will be explored.

What Are Wrinkle Relaxers?

Dermatologists use several FDA-approved products to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. These wrinkle relaxers are injected into the skin and work by modulating the function of facial muscles using naturally-occurring botulinum neuromodulators. In simple terms, the muscles of the face are relaxed, helping to smooth away the appearance of fine lines and creases in the skin. Botulinum is derived from the bacterium called Clostridium botulinum; while this is considered a toxin, application for wrinkle reduction is a safe and effective method. Dynamic wrinkles, or the wrinkles that appear from regular movement of the facial muscles and overlying skin, are targets of these wrinkle relaxation treatments. In particular, wrinkles around the eyes (crow’s feet), laugh lines around the lips, and furrows and creases in the forehead are common areas for treatment.

What Wrinkle Relaxers are Available?

There are three FDA-approved wrinkle relaxer products in use by dermatology centers in the United States. These are:

Botox® – perhaps the most common wrinkle relaxer, Botox has become a household name among those who wish to regain their youthful appearance. Botox contains botulinum toxin A and proteins to enhance its effects. Onset of wrinkle reduction may take 5-7 days. Because this product has been so widely used in the dermatologic profession, the results are very predictable and reliable in their effect.

Dysport® – developed by scientists as a response to Botox resistance, this wrinkle relaxer injection offers several advantages. Using a slightly modified botulinum toxin, results may appear in as little as one day, with typical responses in 1-2 days. The effect may last longer in most patients than Botox as well.

Xeomin® — like Dysport, Xeomin was developed to address botulinum resistance in some patients. It has similar effects and duration to Botox, although some studies suggest that the onset is shorter in time.

How Long do Wrinkle Relaxers Work?

In general, wrinkle relaxation injections begin to show their effects within a few days. The results can last for several months, but average 3-6 months for most patients. Experienced dermatologists have practiced the art and science of wrinkle reduction for many years, and can safely administer these products. It is important to point out that a common misconception of wrinkle relaxers is that they “freeze” the muscles of the face. This is incorrect; patients will retain a natural appearance and all the facial expressions they had before the treatment. The only difference is that the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles will be reduced, lending a fresh, youthful appearance.

What are the Side Effects of Wrinkle Relaxation Treatment?

Wrinkle relaxers are very safe, particularly in the hands of highly-trained dermatology experts. The treatment itself consists of several small injections using fine-gauge needles in the target areas. These injections may sting briefly, although most patients do not experience any discomfort. Most patients may experience mild swelling in the treated areas after injection; this swelling lasts only a couple of days and is reduced using ice packs or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. Some patients may experience light bruising near the injection sites, and to reduce bruising, Vitamin K or Arnica may be beneficial.

A youthful, wrinkle-free appearance is possible, thanks to the scientific advancements behind wrinkle relaxation products. Consult with your dermatologist to learn more about these products to see if they are right for you.

This article is sponsored by Glenn L. Goldberg, Skin Doctor in Laguna Beach, CA