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How Botox is Measured and Why it Matters for Your Appointment

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Are you curious about the magic behind the fountain-of-youth-in-a-vial known as Botox? You’re not alone.

One of the most popular aesthetic treatments of the last decade, Botox has become a regular talking point for beauty newbies and seasoned pros alike.

But whether you’re a Botox enthusiast or just dipping your toes into the world of wrinkle-reducing jabs, the idea of how it works, how long it lasts and how much it costs can be a confusing one.

Add in the number of ‘units’ you’ll need to tackle your skincare concerns and it’s no wonder it can all seem a bit mysterious.

That’s why in this guide, we’ve spoken to board-certified dermatologist Dr William Kwan and aesthetic specialist Alexander Zuruarrain MD, to explain exactly how Botox is measured, and how this will effect both your results and how much your injections will cost you. 

 

Liquid gray cosmetic smudge cream gel background Botox

Imagee – tatyanarow/Adobe

 


How is Botox measured?

When it comes to measuring Botox, we’re not talking about rulers and tape measures. That’s because, “Botox is measured in units. The number of units required can vary depending on the area being treated and the desired outcome,” explains Dr Kwan.

And although the idea of 20 units (the typical amount for frown lines, for example) may sound like a lot, it may not be as much as you’d think. “There are 100 units of Botox in a single syringe,” explains Dr Zuruarrain.

 

Beauty portrait of a sensual young topless woman with long red hair posing, holding hands at her face isolated over beige background workplace makeup women botox wrinkles

Image – Drobot Dean/Adobe

 


How much Botox will I need and how much does it cost?

“Depending on the area of the face you can require as little as five units. In other areas of the face, you may need 40 or more units. In general, most patients require 50 units to be able to inject all of the important areas of the face to include the crow’s feet, 11 lines between the eyebrows, and forehead,” Dr Zuruarrain says.

Although these ranges are not set in stone, and the actual amount you’ll need can differ, according to the experts.

“Your healthcare provider determines the appropriate dosage based on factors such as muscle strength, wrinkle severity, and individual needs of the patient,” Dr Kwan explains.

“Pricing is based on units injected” explains Dr Zuruarrain, and how much you’ll pay per unit can fluctuate depending on different factors, including the location and reputation of the clinic and the expertise of the healthcare professional administering the treatment (BTW, you should always get your Botox from an experienced board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.)

Generally the average cost per unit can range from $10 to $20 in the United States and £8 to £15 in the United Kingdom.

Let’s break down the estimated costs for the most popular specific areas, based on the average number of Botox units required.

  • Crow’s Feet

The FDA recommendation for treatment of the crow’s feet is 12 units per side, but this can vary from patient to patient. This means that if the average cost per unit is $12, having 25 units for crow’s feet would cost approximately $300 or £180.

  • Frown Lines (Glabellar Lines)

Addressing frown lines between the eyebrows usually involves about 15 to 25 units. This means receiving 20 units for frown lines would cost approximately $240 or £150.

  • Forehead Lines

Treating forehead lines generally requires around 10 to 20 units, though it may require additional units depending on the size of the forehead area. With the average cost per unit, having 15 units for forehead lines would cost approximately $180 or £120.

 

botox forehead eyebrows

Image – Jade/Adobe

 


What factors affect how much I’ll need?

As with all cosmetic procedures, there are factors that can affect just how much Botox you’ll receive. This amount can change over time and fluctuate as you receive more treatments.

Here are some of the most influential factors in determining the recommended dosage for best results.

1. Muscle Strength

Facial muscle strength is a key factor in Botox treatment. Individuals with stronger facial muscles may require slightly higher doses to achieve the desired results than those with weaker muscles. This is because stronger muscles can resist the effects of Botox to some extent.

 

2. Treatment Area

Different areas of the face have varying muscle densities and sizes, directly impacting the amount of Botox needed. For instance, treating a larger area, such as the forehead, may require more units compared to a smaller area, like the crow’s feet.

 

3. Age and Gender

Age and gender can affect the dynamics of facial muscles. Our facial muscles can become more pronounced as we age, leading to deeper lines and wrinkles.

It’s also super interesting to note that The National Library of Medicine states that “For male patients, Botox A dosage is effective when started from 40 Units. Men require higher doses of Botox as they have a greater muscle mass than women.”

 

4. Desired Outcome

Your personal aesthetic goals also come into play. If you’re looking for a more dramatic transformation, a higher dosage might be necessary, while a subtle refreshment could require a lower amount.

 

5. Treatment History

If you’ve had Botox before, your healthcare provider assesses how well you responded to the treatment. This knowledge is crucial when it comes to fine-tuning your current Botox dosage.

It’s important to note that The National Library of Medicine says the recommended usage time for Botox is 2 years, however, “the recommended usage of 2 years is often exceeded, which may result in atrophy of the injected muscles.”

It’s pretty clear that Botox treatments are not a one-size-fits-all approach, and a recommended dosage is determined on an individual basis. This is why consulting with a qualified healthcare professional is needed to create a customised treatment plan to achieve your desired results.

 


The takeaway

While Botox is measured in units, it will ultimately be up to you and your aesthetics professional to decide how much is right for you.

And just remember, while it may seem tempting to try to save money by going for the cheapest per unit price you can find, it’s much more important to look for recommendations and qualifications when choosing your provider.

 

Meet the experts

Dr William Kwan is a board-certified dermatologist at Lasky Skin Center in Beverly Hills.

 

Alexander Zuriarrain, MD, FACS is quadruple board-certified in Plastic Surgery, Cosmetic Surgery, Facial Cosmetic Surgery and General Surgery.

 

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Senior Beauty Editor

Laura Kemp started her journalism career as a news reporter for one of the largest newspaper groups in Europe before moving into features and editorial writing. Combining her love of hard-hitting journalism with her passion for beauty, she’s now Senior Beauty Editor at Live That Glow. When she’s not writing, researching, or interviewing her favourite experts, you’ll find Laura practicing her downward dog or drifting on her paddleboard.

Expertise: Hair care, nails
Education: University of Salford
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