When Does Botox Kick In?

You've been waiting for days, but nothing's changed. Why does it take so long for Botox to kick in? We'll explain when it starts working and what to do for best results.

by Linda Robison

When does Botox kick in and when does it start working? These are two different questions:

  • When does it start working: Means when does it start to effect the muscle.
  • When does it kick in: Means when can you expect to see the full, final results.

We'll explain the difference and tell you what you should and should NOT do for the quickest and best results.

When does Botox kick in? Woman point to forehead wrinkles.When will my Botox kick in?

When does Botox start working?

Botox starts working as soon as it's injected.

But, most people won't notice anything until 3-5 days after injection. That's when small, subtle changes start to happen.

But, that is only the beginning...

When does Botox kick in?

You can expect to see full effects to kick in anywhere from 7-14 days after your Botox treatment (injection).

So if it starts working right away, why does it take so long from time of injection until full results are seen?

To understand this better, it helps to know what happens after the toxin is injected, how it works and the effects of botulinum toxin on the muscles. I promise to make this explanation as simple as possible. :-)

When happens to Botox after injected

When the Botulinum toxin is injected, it settles in between the muscles and the nerve cells, an area called the motor endplate.

Here is where Botox does it magic!

After injection, Botox begins to bind to a group of proteins called SNARE. These proteins play a role in muscle movement because they're responsible for releasing a muscle-moving chemical called acetylcholine (ACh).

The more SNARE proteins Botox binds up, the less ACh floating around, and the less muscle movement there will be.

Without ACh, the muscles at the injection site will not move.

So, even though you don't see any difference right after injection, the toxin is working binding up those SNARE proteins and thus reducing the amount of acetylcholine.

Why does it take so long for Botox to take effect

While Botox is slowly binding SNARE proteins, your body is continuously making them. That is why there is a time lag (a few days) from the moment of injection to when muscles start to weaken.

It takes that long for Botox to bind enough proteins, so there is little acetylcholine left to allow the muscles to move. 

β€œIn the presynaptic terminal, released light chains of BoNT enzymatically destroy one of the SNARE proteins. The SNARE proteins are being continuously made. Hence the time from injection to weakness must depend on how long it takes to get sufficient damage to interfere with synaptic release. This time must be days.” 1

How can I make Botox kick in faster?

How to speed up Botox results: Here are some tips on what you can do and should NOT do to help it kick in faster.

While there is nothing you can do to get immediate results, there are a few things to consider, for getting the best results quickly.

Supplements: Some studies indicate that taking the supplement zinc a few days before and a few days after injections can help it last longer and possibly kick in faster.2 

Click here for more info and dosage suggestions.

Muscle Contractions: A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology suggested that muscle contractions can speed up the effect of Botox.

Research suggests that moving or contracting the muscles in the treated area can help speed toxin uptake, which could offer quicker results.

The study was only done on the areas of the forehead and the glabella (between the eyebrows) but the results looked promising.

Some people saw results days earlier than non-exercisers!

So for example: If you had injections for forehead wrinkles or wrinkles in-between the eyebrows (glabella), they recommend doing 3 sets of 40 scowls or 40 forehead raises, three times a day. Allow at least 10-15 minutes in between each workout.

Researchers suspect that the exercise (or muscle movement) help speed up the Botox binding process, thus offering results a few days faster than normal.3

NOTE: You should NOT rub, massage the injected area for 24-72 hours after treatment, as this may spread the toxin to other areas. As always, check with your provider before trying this.

Avoid Cold Compresses: Studies show that cooling the injected area can actually slow down results. I noticed over the last few years, my doctor did not offer the usual mini-ice pack for my treated area. 

When I asked why, she indicated that there are some studies that suggest the uptake of the toxin is temperature related, and cooling the area down might slow or decrease this process.4

What to do if you have bruising?

If you have bruising or pain, instead of applying a cold compress, consider taking a non-steroidal pain reliever like Tylenol or applying an Arnica gel or cream on the area.

Do not take aspirin, as blood thinners should be avoided about 10 days before and after the treatment session.

If you are taking prescription medication or have any medical conditions, it's a good idea to check with your injector or plastic surgeon before starting or stopping medications prior to your Botox appointment.

Why does Botox work faster in some areas

The areas that usually respond quicker are the smaller or weaker muscles, like those around the forehead or crow's feet area.

Areas with strong facial muscles may take a little longer for the treatment to take effect. Do not worry if you’re one of these people. You can enjoy the rejuvenating, wrinkle-eliminating effects of Botox, too.

For areas with particularly deep lines or those who are getting their first injection late in life, more than one injection may be necessary to see the desired results.

When Does Botox Kick In: FAQ's

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Q: Can you reverse Botox treatments?

A: Unfortunately, no, you cannot reverse Botox injections. If you don't like the results, you'll have to wait a few months until it wears off.

Well, actually, Botox doesn't wear off, your muscle proteins (the ones responsible for muscle movement) take over.

Here is how it works:

When Botox is injected, it binds up SNARE proteins, which are necessary to make muscle movements.

However, the body is constantly making more of these proteins, so over time, as these proteins build up, you eventually gain control over your muscles. Read more about it here...

Q: What does it feel like when Botox kicks in?

A: Depending on where your injection was, you might feel a slightly tight sensation or a feeling of heaviness. However, in general, most people can't feel Botox working. But, can see it when they try moving the injected muscle area.

Q: Can you see Botox results in 24 hours?

A: No. While Botox starts working as soon as it's injected, most people will not start to see any results for about 3-5 days. And full results (when Botox kicks in) is usually seen in about 10-14 days. 

Q: How does Botox work?

A: Botox works to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. When Botox is injected into facial muscles, the muscles in the treatment area become immobilized.

When muscles can't move, the overlying skin (with static lines and deeper dynamic wrinkles) begins to relax and smooth out. By relaxing facial expressions, many people take on a more youthful appearance.

Q: How do I know if my Botox is working?

A: After about 3-5 days, you might feel a tight sensation around the injection area. Then, about a week after that, most people notice their dynamic lines (these are wrinkles that develop from constant and repetitive facial expressions) start to soften and become less visible.

If your wrinkles are still visible after 2 weeks, you might need more Botox and you should consult with your provider.

Q: Which Botox lasts the longest?

A: At this time, DAX (Daxxify) is the longest lasting neurotoxin. Instead of lasting 3-4 like the other neurotoxins, Dax can last up to 8 months.

DAX also is reported to kick in several days faster than other Botox brands.

DAX is made with a synthetic peptide that allows it to stay bound to the receptors at the neurosynaptic junction longer.

Receptors located at the neurosynaptic junction are responsible for muscle contraction. The longer they stay bound-up, the longer the results will last