This Is *Exactly* How Much Botox Costs (and How Long It Actually Lasts)

This Is *Exactly* How Much Botox Costs (and How Long It Actually Lasts)

Unless you haven’t looked at your phone or watched TV in, idk, the last decade, then you already know that Botox is officially everywhere, and it seems like pretty much everyone and anyone has gotten it or is thinking of getting it. And if you’re currently in the ~curious~ boat, you’ve come to the right place. Because despite Botox’s popularity, there’s still confusion among patients about Botox basics, which is where I come in.

As Cosmo‘s resident Botox lover (we even awarded it a 2021 Cosmo Beauty Award this year, because I <3 it so much), I decided to create this mini Botox guide to help clear the confusion. It breaks down all the things you should know before booking a treatment, including how exactly Botox works, what Botox costs, and most importantly, if Botox is even worth it. Keep reading to find out everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Botox, below.

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What exactly does Botox do?

Botox, FYI, is the brand name for an FDA-approved drug called botulinum toxin (aka a nerve-blocking drug, more on this below) that quickly become a household name over the years, just like Kleenex has for tissues, and Q-tips has for cotton swabs. So what does Botox do? It temporarily “freezes” muscles in your face to help smooth out frown lines, crow’s feet, and forehead lines.

It sounds intense and risky (especially since movies and TV shows loooove to play up the frozen-face Botox joke), but Botox is actually the quickest and most effective way to minimize fine lines and wrinkles (sry to your anti-aging cream). Like, I’ve gotten Botox at least 12 times in my life—told you I love it!—and I really, truly swear by its effects.

How does Botox work?

Botox works by temporarily blocking the nerve signals to your facial muscles, which prevents them from contracting. “By reducing those contractions, the skin above the muscle stays smooth,” says plastic surgeon David Shafer, MD. It sounds intense, but rest assured: Botox only works on the little area where it’s injected, so it’s not like a single injection will shut down the nerve signals in your entire face or body.


Does Botox get rid of all wrinkles?

Quick wrinkle lesson: There are actually two types of wrinkles on your body: dynamic wrinkles and static wrinkles.

  • Dynamic wrinkles: wrinkles that occur from repetitive movements (think: crow’s feet from squinting, smile lines from smiling, or forehead lines from raising your eyebrows).
  • Static wrinkles: wrinkles that permanently form as we lose collagen and elastin over time (think: lines around your neck, the folds of your arms, across your cheeks, and around your mouth).

    Botox works best on dynamic wrinkles, like the wrinkles around your forehead and eyes, but even static wrinkles that are visible when you’re not moving your face will also show significant improvement with Botox, says Dr. Shafer.

    How much should I expect to pay for Botox?

    The cost of Botox depends on a few different factors, including where you live, how many units of Botox you’re getting (yup, that’s how they measure it), and the area you’re injecting in your face (smaller areas obvs cost less).

    If you’re getting your Botox from an experienced board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon (which, for the record, you 100 percent always should), it’ll cost you more than if you go to a discount medspa. And it makes sense: The more expertise an injector has—and the bigger the city they live in—the more money they’ll charge for their service.

    FYI: Injectors price their Botox either by area (so say, the just the forehead or just the eye area as a lump sum), or by unit (this is a measure of quantity—Botox comes in vials that are either 50 or 100 units, and a single injection tends to hold 3 to 5 units). The number of Botox units you’ll need will depend on your facial anatomy and desired result (more units = a more dramatic smoothing effect, while fewer units = a subtle softening effect).

    But, in general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $19 to $25 per unit in bigger cities, and as low as $10 a unit in smaller cities. “I prefer to charge per unit so patients are only paying for what they need,” says Dr. Shafer. “If you pay by the area and only want a tiny bit of Botox, it’s not really cost effective.” There is an advantage to paying for Botox by area though, and that’s consistency. It’s always going to cost the same—whether you’re getting a teeny bit of Botox or a lot, says Dr. Shafer.

    How much does Botox cost for the forehead?

    If you pay per area, getting Botox in your forehead will cost $250 on the low end and up to $600+ on the high end. If you pay per unit, the cost will depend on what your provider chargers per unit, so it’s not as easy to give a price range, but it can end up being a bit cheaper if you only want/need a bit of Botox.

    That said, most adults get 20 to 30 units in their forehead for their wrinkles, and often opt to get another 20 to 30 units in their glabella (the area between your eyes that’s prone to the frowning “eleven” wrinkles ), says Dr. Shafer. So it really does depend on how much surface area you’re injecting.

    How much does Botox cost for crow’s feet?

    Again, this will depend on if you pay by the area or by the unit. If it’s per area, expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $400 for Botox for crow’s feet. As for units? A typical treatment of the crow’s feet takes 10 to 15 units on each side (so 20-30 total), though your injector may inject less if you still want a lot of movement around your eyes (and, thus, cheaper!).

    How long does Botox last the first time?

    On average, Botox lasts anywhere from three to five months. Most of my patients return every four months to maintain their results, says Dr. Shafer, who also notes the more you get injected, the longer it will last. “You want to book your next treatment before the previous treatment has worn off, or you will lose the preventive effects of Botox—especially on the improvement of the static wrinkles,” Dr. Shafer adds.

    For what it’s worth, my forehead and eye-area Botox tends to last a full four months (but I also get the max injected), while my friend’s Botox (who gets the minimum injected, because she likes a lot of movement in her face) only lasts three months max.

    How long does Botox take to work?

    Important note that Botox doesn’t work right away. Botox takes about five days to start working after it’s injected, so if you’re trying Botox for a big event or special occasion, make sure to book your appointment a week or two in advance, and definitely not the day before.

    how much does botox cost


    What are the side effects of Botox?

    Overall, Botox is incredibly safe and usually has zero side effects. You may notice a tiny bruise where you were injected, but that’ll go away in a day or two. There’s also no “downtime,” meaning your skin will look totally fine after your appointment, other than a few little red marks from where you were injected.

    That’s not to say Botox is totally risk-free though. One of the more serious potential side effects is droopy eyelids, which can happen if the Botox spreads (often the result of you laying down or napping too soon after getting injected), or if your doctor injects Botox too close to the muscle that raises the lid (though experienced doctors will know which area to avoid). Luckily, it’s not permanent, and the issue can be treated temporarily with prescription eyedrops before resolving on its own after a few weeks.

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    Does Botox hurt?

    Listen, I know that saying Botox feels like a little pinch is a cliche, but it really does feel like a little pinch! If you’ve ever had a bikini or Brazilian wax, consider Botox a spa day. Many doctors describe getting Botox as a series of sharp, brief pinches—and you can get numbing cream (though honestly, I would say don’t waste your time or money). And the whole thing is so quick—my Botox injections take less than two minutes total—so before you can even register that your face is being repeatedly poked with a needle, it’s done and over.

    Is Botox worth the cost?

    IMO, Botox is absolutely worth the cost. It’s pricey, yes, but truly effective on everyone, and I can’t say that’s the case for most beauty treatments in general. I‘ve been getting Botox in my forehead and around my eyes for five years now and I’m consistently happy with the result—and most people I’ve talked to who’ve gotten Botox done feel the same, especially if their skin is too sensitive to tolerate other anti-aging creams and treatments.

    Overall, any unwanted side effects of Botox are usually not a result of the Botox itself, but the injector, which is another reason to avoid shady spas or suspect Groupon deals. At the end of the day, if the price sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Remember that you aren’t just paying for the product, but also for the experience of the injector, says Dr. Shafer. Like with all things in life, when it comes to Botox, you get what you pay for.

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