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Generic name: onabotulinumtoxinAON-a-BOT-ue-LYE-num-TOX-in-A ]
Brand names: Botox, Botox Cosmetic
Dosage form: injection
Drug class: Skeletal muscle relaxants

Medically reviewed by Melisa Puckey, BPharm. Last updated on Mar 22, 2023.

What is Botox?

Botox injection is a prescription medicine that helps improve the appearance of facial wrinkles, and treats some medical conditions, by causing muscles to relax, as botox blocks nerve signals to the muscles.

Botox Cosmetic and Botox injections are both FDA-approved medicines,  Botox Cosmetic is used to soften facial wrinkles, and Botox injections are used to treat medical conditions like chronic migraines, specific bladder issues, excessive sweating, and other muscle-related medical conditions.

The difference between Botox and Botox Cosmetic is they are different strengths once the vial has been made up, and they have different FDA-approved uses. Therefore they should not be used interchangeably.

Botox and Botox Cosmetic contain onabotulinumtoxinA, which is one of the botulinum toxins from the class of medicines called neurotoxins.

Other botulinum toxins FDA approved medicines are abobotulinumtoxina (Dysport),  incobotulinumtoxina (Xeomin), daxibotulinumtoxinA-lanm (Daxxify), prabotulinumtoxina (Jeuveau) and rimabotulinumtoxinb (Myobloc).

What are Botox Cosmetic and Botox used for?

Botox Cosmetic is used for:

Botox is used for:


You should not use Botox if you have an infection in the area where the medicine will be injected. This medicine should not be used to treat overactive bladder or incontinence if you have a current bladder infection or if you are unable to urinate (unless you routinely use a catheter).

The botulinum toxin contained in Botox can spread to other body areas beyond where it was injected. This can cause serious life-threatening side effects.

Call your doctor at once if you have a hoarse voice, drooping eyelids, vision problems, severe eye irritation, severe muscle weakness, loss of bladder control, or trouble breathing, talking, or swallowing.

Before taking this medicine

You should not be treated with this medicine if you are allergic to botulinum toxin or other ingredients contained in Botox or Botox Cosmetic, or if you have:

To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Botox is made from donated human plasma and may contain viruses or other infectious agents. Donated plasma is tested and treated to reduce the risk of contamination, but there is still a small possibility it could transmit disease. Ask your doctor about any possible risks.

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It may not be safe to breastfeed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risks.

How is Botox given?

Botox injections should be given only by a trained medical professional, which includes when used for cosmetic purposes.

This medicine is injected into a muscle by a healthcare provider. How often you have Botox injections depends on the condition being treated, Botox Cosmetic injections for temporary improvement in the appearance of facial lines should be spaced at least 3 months apart, and for treatment for other conditions, it may be up to at least 12 weeks between injections.

The effects of a Botox injection are temporary and your symptoms may return completely within 3 months. After repeat injections, it may take less and less time between injections before your symptoms return, especially if your body develops antibodies to the botulinum toxin.

You should not seek to have botulinum toxin injections from more than one medical professional at a time. If you do switch healthcare providers, it is important to tell your new provider how long it has been since your last botulinum toxin injection.

Using this medication more often than prescribed will not make it more effective and may result in serious side effects.

Cosmetic use. Botox Cosmetic starts working or showing its effect usually in the first 1 to 4 days, with the maximum effect being reached in the first 1 to 4 weeks. The cosmetic effect usually lasts for 3 to 4 months but varies depending on each different individual.

Chronic migraine prevention. Injections should be given in 7 specific head/neck muscle sites, with the recommended re-treatment schedule every 12 weeks.

Eye conditions. When receiving injections for eye muscle conditions, you may need to use eye drops, ointment, a special contact lens or other device to protect the surface of your eye. It is important to follow your doctor's instructions. For eye muscle spasms it may take only 1 to 3 days after injection before spasm symptoms begin to improve. You may notice the greatest improvement after 2 to 6 weeks.

Excessive sweating. If you are being treated for excessive underarm sweating, you should shave your underarms about 24 hours before your injection. You should not apply antiperspirant or deodorant for 24 hours before or after you receive the injection. Avoid exercise and hot foods or beverages within 30 minutes before the injection.

Neck muscle spasm. It may take up to 2 weeks after injection before neck muscle spasm symptoms begin to improve. You may notice the greatest improvement after 6 weeks.

Adult bladder dysfunction. Before treatment, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for you to take for 1-3 days before your treatment, on the day of your treatment, and for 1 to 3 days after your treatment.

For more detailed instructions (with pictures) about dilution, resulting strengths, how to use and where to inject Botox Cosmetic or Botox, read the "Dosage and Administration" on the Professional Botox Cosmetic document  or Professional Botox document


What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may not appear right away, but can include muscle weakness, trouble swallowing, and weak or shallow breathing.

What should I avoid after receiving Botox?

Botox may impair your vision or depth perception. Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you.

Avoid going back to your normal physical activities too quickly after receiving an injection.

Botox side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Botox: hives, itching; wheezing, difficulty breathing; feeling like you might pass out; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

The botulinum toxin contained in Botox can spread to other body areas beyond where it was injected. This has caused serious life-threatening side effects in some people receiving botulinum toxin injections, even for cosmetic purposes.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these side effects (up to several hours or several weeks after an injection):

Common Botox side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Botox?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect Botox, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

What are the ingredients in Botox and Botox Cosmetic?

Active ingredient: onabotulinumtoxinA

Inactive ingredients: human albumin and sodium chloride


Unopened vials:

Botox Cosmetic. Store in a refrigerator between 2° to 8°C (36º to 46ºF). Do not use after the expiration date on the vial.

Botox. Store in a refrigerator between 2° to 8°C (36º to 46ºF) for up to 36 months. Do not use after the expiration date on the vial.  

Reconstituted vials:

Reconstituted Botox Cosmetic and Botox: Store in a refrigerator between 2° to 8°C (36º to 46ºF) and administered within 24 hours.

Popular FAQ

Botox is injected into 7 specific muscle areas around your head and neck to help prevent migraine headaches before they start. Areas include your forehead, bridge of the nose, temples, neck, back of the head, and just above the shoulder blades in your upper back. Continue reading

Botox Cosmetic is used for aesthetic purposes for wrinkles and Botox is used as a therapeutic treatment for different medical conditions, including migraine headache prevention. Botox Cosmetic and Botox come as separate products but are both prescription medicines that contain the active ingredient onabotulinumtoxinA. Continue reading

Daxxify (daxibotulinumtoxinA-lanm) is the first Botox alternative that is free of human albumin or animal-based components, and it was FDA-approved in September 2022. It is also the longest-lasting of all the cosmetic injectable wrinkle treatments, lasting for 6 months in most people and 9 months in some.  Continue reading

The recommended total dose of Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) for chronic migraine prevention is 155 Units administered intramuscularly (into the muscle). This is given as 0.1 mL (5 Units) injections per each site divided across 7 specific head/neck muscle areas, for a total of 31 individual injections. Continue reading

The list price for Botox is $1,244 for a 200-Unit vial, but you will not pay this price. How much Botox costs will depend upon your use and dose, your insurance type, and any additional fees charged by your healthcare provider for the procedure. Botox Cosmetic to lessen wrinkle appearance is usually not covered by insurance. Continue reading

Botox is a migraine prevention medicine injected into muscles in the head and neck every 12 weeks. It helps to block acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that carries pain signals. In studies, Botox prevented 8 to 9 headache days a month, compared to 6 to 7 days for patients given a placebo. Continue reading

There are eight different types of botulinum toxin produced by C. botulinum; A, B, C1, C2, D, E, F, and G. All work by blocking the release of acetylcholine, one of the most significant neurotransmitters in our body. Acetylcholine activates muscles, so blocking it causes muscle relaxation and paralysis. Injections enable the botulinum toxin to be targeted directly into specific muscles. There it has a direct effect on acetylcholine in the nerve synapses, preventing signals that would normally cause the muscle to contract. Continue reading

Botox when used for migraine prevention lasts about 12 weeks for people who have a good response. You will visit your doctor 4 times per year for your treatment, or as directed. Because you receive treatment every 12 weeks, you won’t have to remember to take a daily pill for migraine prevention. Continue reading

Lip flip Botox is a way to make your lips appear fuller and larger by using Botox (botulinum toxin) instead of dermal lip fillers. During a lip flip, your appearance medicine specialist injects Botox into parts of your upper lip which relaxes the muscles around your upper lip, which makes your lip “flip” upward a tiny bit (eversion) and appear larger than normal. Continue reading

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.