I Got Botox Injected Into My Jaw—Here’s Why
We bet you didn’t know you could use Botox for this.
In order to find out more about how this procedure works—and test it for myself—I visited dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman at her Manhattan practice a few weeks ago. Check out what she had to say about Botox injections for your jaw.
What are the aesthetic benefits of using Botox in the jaw?
It’s used to sculpt the lower face and help with what Dr. Engelman calls “masseteric hypertrophy,” or the enlargement of the masseter muscle. Every time you chew food or anxiously grind your teeth while you lie in bed at night, like me, that’s the muscle doing the bulk of the work. She explained that some people anatomically have a stronger masseter muscle, which in turn leads to a more square-looking jawline. Since my bone structure is already quite square, this was something I was interested in minimizing. “We use Botox directly in the lower muscle to cause atrophy or reduction in the muscle strength and in the muscle bulk. So it gives a slimming effect of the lower face.”
Where did the trend of using Botox this way begin?
Like many current beauty trends, this one started in Asia. Softening the lower face is a common request in the region, Engelman explains, adding that “it’s become quite popular here in the US with people trying to soften certain angles. As dermatologists, we know that [many find] a square jaw more attractive. If you look at the runways or catwalks or anything editorial, those models typically have sharp jaws.” While I am not, in fact, a runway model, I appreciate this sentiment, but I was still interested in lessening some of the volume along my jawline.
How much can you actually slim the jaw and lower face?
“You’re not going to totally change the shape of someone who has a square jaw, because that’s a lot of bone structure,” Dr. Engelman says. “We’re changing the muscle that’s on top of it. We really have to assess whether or not it’s masseteric hypertrophy.” She explains that there are some patients that come in for the procedure not realizing that it’s only their bone that is causing their square jaw, not the muscle itself, or they have more fat tissue in the cheeks, which also cannot be fixed with Botox injections. But for my fellow teeth grinders and gum chewers, we can expect to see a two- to three-millimeter reduction around the jaw for a subtle contouring effect.
For the injection itself, is there anything particularly different or unique about it compared to the traditional use?
Since the muscle you’re injecting is much deeper under the skin of your jaw than in your forehead, that means the needle has to go deeper as well, through the buccal mucosa, aka the mucous membrane lining the inside of the mouth. Dr. Engelman had me bite down as if I were chewing so she could locate the bulk of the muscle, or what dermatologists call the “belly.” The amount of the injection and how many you need also depends on your facial anatomy and how robust your muscle is, but typically it’s a higher amount than the injections around the crow’s-feet and forehead, where the muscles are more superficial.
Does it hurt?
Truthfully, I don’t consider Botox to be particularly painful, but the needle is going slightly deeper into your jaw than your forehead, which makes the actual injection take a second or two longer. The number of injections varies depending on the person, so it might be two, four, or six pricks with the needle. I would rate it a five on a scale of one to ten—totally manageable, but a tad uncomfortable. Again, it all depends on your pain tolerance. You don’t receive (or particularly need) numbing cream, but Dr. Engelman did give me an ice pack beforehand, which helped.
How long do the effects take to kick in?
Dr. Engelman explains that because the muscle is larger than those on your forehead, it takes longer to see the effects. On average, Botox in your forehead takes five days to kick in, but the jaw is usually around two weeks post-injections. “After two weeks, patients report that they are grinding their teeth less, they’re clenching less, and they’re not waking up with headaches and jaw pain.” In another two weeks or so, you can expect to see some slimming effects as your muscle is weakened. And no, you will not lose the ability to chew or talk.
When will it wear off?
About three to four months, roughly the same as traditional Botox. But there’s an upside. “You may see a prolonged aesthetic effect because the Botox will wear off and then the muscle has to build back up,” she says. “You may get a few more weeks to maybe a month of facial slimming.” A little more bang for your buck, so to speak.
Are there any risks associated with the location of the injection?
Nope! You would follow the same recovery routine that you would with forehead or crow’s-feet injections. “The good news is that the injection is so deep that the risk of migration is virtually none.” Just don’t work out for 24 hours, and lay off aggressive facial massage for a few days. In other words, go about your life–just with a slightly slimmer jawline.
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