22 June 2022
Botox and dermal fillers are the top two anti-aging treatments in my clinic in Singapore. Besides removing wrinkles and lines, these treatments can be used to treat teeth grinding/ clenching (bruxism), excessive sweating and lifting of sagging skin.
Contrary to clickbait titles, Botox and dermal fillers do not last forever. Both Botox (Botulinum toxin) and dermal fillers have a finite longevity. For Botox, the results last for 4-6 months; for hyaluronic acid dermal fillers, the results last for 9-12 months. The variability in these durations is due partly to differences in metabolism, dosages and personal habits in individuals. This guide will share with factors that can shorten or lengthen the duration of these results, so that you can maximise the duration of your results.
But first, here’s a quick recap on Botox and dermal fillers:
Botox is one of the brands of Botulinum toxin, a medication for relaxing muscles. The other brands of Botulinum toxin that are approved by HSA in Singapore are Dysport and Xeomin. Botulinum toxin relaxes muscles to treat overactive muscles or wrinkles. You can read about the safety issues regarding Botox in Is Botox Deadly? 5. Some interesting uses of Botox are covered in this blogpost 5 Surprising Uses for Botox.
Dermal fillers are soft gels to sculpt and lift the face. They can be used to contour the face (e.g. with nose fillers and cheek fillers). They can also be used to remove lines (e.g. laugh lines/ nasolabial folds) and lift the face. There are several types of fillers in Singapore and the most commonly used one is hyaluronic acid fillers.
You can read more about Botox and dermal fillers in these related blogposts:
And now, moving on to the gist of how to prolong the outcomes of your aesthetic treatments…..
Sun Protection for Preservation
Sun exposure does not affect the metabolism or breakdown of Botulinum toxin or dermal fillers. However, UV rays from the sun accelerate premature aging in the skin by breaking down collagen and elastin fibres. This results in newer and earlier return of wrinkles and sagging in the skin. Consider using a broad spectrum sunscreen and antioxidants in your skincare routine to delay new wrinkles and other signs of aging. Skincare products that contain retinoids have a collagen building effect in our skin, so consider adding it in your routine for anti-aging benefits.
Smoking has been linked to shorter results of treatments like Botox, dermal fillers and threadlifts. The cause is not well understood, but in general, smokers have earlier signs of aging compared to non-smokers. This is because smoking causes vasoconstriction, reducing blood supply and nutrient delivery to the skin. The stress on the skin causes premature skin aging and earlier onset of new wrinkles.
Exercise in Moderation
Exercising immediately after receiving Botox or dermal filler injections is a no-no. Vigorous movements can displace botulinum toxin or dermal fillers away from their intended location in the face. Anecdotally among doctors, excessive exercising seems to be one factor in reducing the results of Botox and dermal fillers. The causative pathway has yet to be proven though, so keep exercising in moderation.
Botox belongs to a family of enzymes called zinc metalloproteinases so the presence of zinc is important for the activity of Botox. Zinc is an essential mineral that can be obtained from our diet. Examples of foods rich in zinc are red meat, poultry, nuts and beans.
One study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology suggested that taking a supplement that contained zinc and phytase prolonged the effects of Botulinum toxin. Phytase is an enzyme that enhances the body’s absorption of zinc. Does this mean we should be taking zinc supplements?
On closer scrutiny of this publication, there are a number of problems in this study that question the validity of the conclusion. Excessive zinc intake could also cause side effects like taste and smell disturbance- so unless your body is deficient in zinc, supplementation is not necessary.
In conclusion, there is no definitive way to prolong the results of your treatments beyond its intended lifespan. However, there are a few simple habits you can adapt to reduce the shortening of the results- such as using sunscreen, antioxidant skincare and exercising in moderation. Nutritional supplements such as zinc supplements are not necessary.