Botox is a safe, FDA approved cosmetic treatment that relaxes facial muscles to eliminate wrinkles. With it, your skin can return to the smooth, younger-looking appearance that you wish to achieve. Botox produces remarkable results that will benefit your skin in multiple ways. By following up with subsequent treatments, your skin will improve by reducing the facial contractions that cause further damage from fine lines and wrinkles.

How Long Does Botox Take to Work?

It takes 3-5 days to see a difference.

Another myth I’m told about botox is that the results are immediate. They’re not. ‘You’ll start to see an effect after 3-5 days’, instructs cosmetic doctor Rita Rakus, ‘however it may take two weeks for maximum results to kick in’.

When you go in for your first Botox treatment, it is important to know that you are not going to see results immediately following your injections. Instead, you will likely start to notice a difference in your skin 48 hours after your treatment. However, the full effects of your treatment will not be noticeable for 10-14 days following your treatment. This means that if you are getting Botox for a special event, it is a good idea to receive your treatment 1 to 2 weeks before. Not only is this time important to allow for it to take full effect, but it is also necessary to take full advantage of the healing process that relieves mild swelling or redness that may occur at the injection sites.

When Botox takes effect

The most common areas of the face for Botox include the forehead, around the eyes (crow’s feet), and between the eyebrows. In general, Trujillo says the finer the lines, the faster the results.

When first getting Botox on your forehead, your practitioner will need to begin with a lower dosage to determine the number of units that work best for you. This means you may not get maximum results until after a few treatments, with return visits after 2 to 3 months being common.

With the prevalence of Botox injections for crow’s feet as a gauge, results from this outpatient procedure are relatively quick and successful. It typically takes about 3 days for noticeable results, when the muscles around your eyes begin to relax. Injections for this small area generally need to be repeated every 3 to 4 months.

Where you receive the injections and the severity of the lines you are seeking to treat can also affect how long it takes to see the full results. Botox tends to work faster on smaller wrinkles. So if you receive injections in the crow’s feet around your eyes and the more severe wrinkles on your forehead, you are likely to see the relaxation of your crow’s feet sooner.

Timeline for forehead, crow’s feet, and between the brows

Why does it take time to work?

While some results are noticeable after 3 or 4 days, it can take a few weeks to see maximum results. Why this delay?

There are other factors that figure in the onset of Botox. Individuals with particularly strong facial muscles may take longer to see and feel the treatment’s effects.

Botox treats wrinkles by preventing muscles from contracting and wrinkling overlying skin. It actually does this by blocking nerves from sending signals to the muscle to contract.

After being injected, Botox gets absorbed by the nerve endings in the area. Once absorbed, Botox blocks the nerve’s ability to release chemicals that lead to contraction of its associated muscle.

Under normal circumstances, your brain signals a muscle to contract by sending a message down a nerve fiber leading to the release of chemicals onto that muscle. Those chemicals cause the muscle to contract. Botox works by blocking the release of those signaling chemicals from the nerve fiber.

Why it takes a few days to start seeing effects and longer to see full results is because it takes time for Botox to be absorbed and exert its effects on a nerve fiber. However, once it kicks in, there’s no denying that Botox works great.

In fact, according the, Botox gets a 95% user satisfaction rating. That is very high especially considering the number of people who get Botox and have weighed in with their opinion.

One of the reasons Botox is so highly rated is that it’s effects are predictable and noticeable. In fact, it is rare for one not to respond to treatment. There are some patients who develop a resistance to the effects of Botox, but it is rare.

The most common reason for patients to think Botox did not work is because they see residual lines in the area treated. Wrinkles can have both a dynamic and static component. Dynamic lines only appear when the muscle is flexed. These will virtually always respond to Botox treatment. Botox is not a one size fits all treatment and the same dosage does not work for everyone. Some individuals may need additional Botox to reach an effective level of muscle weakness. The Botox may also be old, overdiluted, or fake.

Static lines are present even when the skin is at rest. These lines are “etched in”. One way to tell whether or not you have static lines is to stretch your wrinkle. If you can still see a line even as your wrinkle is stretched, it means there is a static component. A filler such as Restylane or Juvederm is needed to treat the static component of the line.

How it feels when it starts working

It’s working when your lines start to fade away. “The treated area will appear smoother and look more refreshed,” said Dr. Sapna Palep, founder of Spring Street Dermatology.

After your first treatment, Palep says you may feel a slightly tight sensation or a feeling of heaviness, which will subside in 1 to 2 weeks. You can typically tell that Botox is starting to wear off when you can see dynamic lines again with movement.

  • Immediately after the treatment
Straight after the treatment, you may have a small amount of redness and swelling – this will usually resolve within ten minutes. Most people experience no pain or side effects, a small number get a mild headache after the treatment which can be eased with mild pain relief. You will be given post-treatment information which outlines all of the details and post-care advice.

  • 1 day after the treatment
Most people will not experience any symptoms that show they’ve had the treatment done, however it is possible to have some minor bruising but this can be eased with some arnica cream and can easily covered with concealer. Occasionally, people may still have a mild headache. Noticeable results are not usually visible the next day, as it take a bit of time for the Botox® to kick in.

  • 1 week after the treatment
After seven days, you’re likely to see the results of your treatment. The treated area will appear smoother and look more refreshed. After your first treatment, you may feel a slight ‘tight’ sensation or a feeling of ‘heaviness’, which will subside in a 1-2 weeks. If it’s your first treatment, it is best practice for the clinic to give you a follow up call to see how you’re feeling.

  • 1 month after the treatment
A month down the track, your Botox® will still be very effective. Some people will have a very small amount of movement return, although this differs for everyone and also depends on the area treated.

  • 3 months after the treatment
After 3 months, you will start to see a gradual return of movement. Caci recommend to rebook for an assessment and possible follow up treatment. If you have stubborn static lines on your face, it might be best to treat the area again, particularly if full movement has returned. To achieve the best results with more stubborn, deep set lines it’s best to avoid full movement in the area for a while to allow the lines to soften.

Where to find a provider

When it comes to finding a provider to administer Botox, the first criteria is to go with a board-certified physician. Commonly, people will seek treatment from a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

When in doubt, talk with your healthcare provider about referrals in your area.

The bottom line

Making the decision to get Botox injections isn’t something you should take lightly. While the procedure is simple and generally considered safe, it’s still an elective procedure that comes with risks.

Knowing the risks ahead of time, as well as the proper dose and timeline to meet your needs, can help you make an informed decision.

Last medically reviewed on January 27, 2020.