Botox has a long-standing track record as the gold standard wrinkle eraser. It’s practical, relatively painless, and can make a major difference in the overall look of the face. But lately, patients are trading in their standard doses for a smaller-than-normal amount of their preferred neuromodulator, known as baby Botox (or Botox sprinkles), in the hopes of achieving a more natural look without a frozen, completely lineless appearance.
While it sounds as simple as point and shoot, there’s an artistry and craft to injecting neuromodulators. A good result, of course, is dependent on an excellent injector. But a lot also has to do with the dose and product placement. One thing about neuromodulators is that they always deserve a decent amount of awareness regarding how much product to inject for a natural result. So while baby Botox, or a modified dose, may work for some people, it may not be right for you, and here’s why.
Beyond its cosmetic uses, Botox has medical indications to improve conditions like extreme sweating and debilitating migraines, making the botulinum toxin type A a win-win injectable no matter how you and your doctor use it. Yet, no matter where injecting Botox, the fad-resistant injectable works the same way. As facial cosmetic surgeon Dr. Daria Hamrah explains, all neuromodulators (including Dysport, Xeomin, and Jeuveau, too) weaken the action of the muscle by blocking the connection or nerve to the muscle, so the signaling can’t take place. And that’s how you get wrinkle-free skin.
No matter how much or little Botox your doctor injects you with, the course of action and the result are the same. “Neuromodulators are agents that modify the action of nerves, particularly motor nerves, which are the nerves that move a muscle (there are different nerves in the body),” Dr. Hamrah says. Injecting a neuromodulator stops the communication between nerve and muscle in a few days, leaving the skin smoother with fewer lines and wrinkles. So even if you smile, squint, laugh, or make a facial movement, the effect of the resulting line or wrinkle is pretty much non-existent.
How Baby Botox Works
Botox and neuromodulators are a godsend for patients who want to limit the effects of aging and maintain smooth-as-glass skin. But the recent shift to using smaller amounts of product to keep a more natural result and retain expression has some patients opting for less rather than more. Those patients who are all for looking natural with a hint of perhaps a forehead furrow when scowling or crow’s feet showing when smiling may be more open to trying a modified dose of neuromodulator. For patients that want as little movement as possible with nary a line or wrinkle in sight, baby Botox may not be the approach.
But just because you think you want a smaller amount injected doesn’t mean it’s the best or right approach. No two faces are the same; therefore, no two neuromodulator doses should be the same either. What works for one person may not be enough, or even too much, for someone else. “Everyone needs different amounts of Botox because we all use our muscles differently,” says Dr. Hamrah.
Like full-dose Botox, modified versions work in all the same areas, including the crow’s feet, the lines between the eyebrows, and the forehead lines.
Is it For You?
If you’re new to Botox or were previously injected but didn’t like the effect, you may want to take it slow and start with less rather than more. When injecting less than average amounts of neuromodulator, there’s not a fully paralyzing result, so you will see some of that expression when you laugh or smile. But, of course, it’s all personal preference, which is why dosing is patient-dependent. With smaller doses of Botox, you can expect about half the regular unit use.
Dr. Hamrah says your Botox injections should always be customized to your needs—don’t opt for a version of treatment just because it’s new, trendy, or what a friend is doing. If you want little to no movement in your face, baby Botox probably isn’t the best approach and probably won’t give you the look you’re after. To determine if this approach is right for you, a consultation with your injector will help determine how strong your muscles are and how much product is needed to create the desired level of smoothness. Dr. Hamrah adds that Botox should only be used based on the intensity of the muscle. “If I use a certain amount of Botox in the forehead, for example, in someone else, I might use half of that or more. It’s all based on how much the muscle moves, so there is no cookie-cutter protocol.”
When done right, baby Botox should create a softer appearance with less noticeable wrinkles but without the paralyzing movement that prevents you from making any reactionary emotional movement on the face. So, for example, if your doctor routinely injects 20 units, with the baby Botox approach, they will use about half. Less Botox doesn’t necessarily equate to lesser results. But that also doesn’t mean that more significant amounts will leave you unnatural either. More mature patients with deeply etched-in wrinkles may require a higher dose to smooth things out. Since everyone responds differently to neuromodulators, what one person may think of as a baby dose may be another person’s standard dose and vice versa. The standard Botox dose can also give a naturally refreshed look if the injecting dose is appropriate for you. However, it is important to know that overtreating some areas can cause some features, like the brows, to drop from too much Botox.
The best way to determine how much Botox is right for you is to let your doctor figure it out. Rather than saying how many units you want, talk to your doctor about the look you want and how much natural movement you expect post-injections. This way, you and your injector can devise a personalized plan that relates more to the end goal than a specific number of units, which may or may not be suitable for you. It may take you and your doctor several rounds of treatment to hone in on what works best for you, which is why it’s important to stick with the same injector for a period rather than bouncing around and doctor shopping with a Groupon or discount.
Written by Elise Minton Tabin