How Much Botox Do I Need?

Written by Gregory Nikolaidis, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on June 8, 2015 5 Comments

how much botox do i need

It’s a common question asked by most Botox patients: “How much Botox do I need?” This is an important consideration before undergoing a Botox treatment as the amount of Botox (units) required determines the overall cost of the procedure.

Every patient is unique in terms of both facial characteristics and desired result. Each individual facial muscle requires a differing amount of Botox in order to fully relax and prevent wrinkle formation. To further complicate matters there are a variety of other characteristics that influence how your body reacts to Botox injections. These can include your gender, size and strength of your facial muscles, and your metabolism.

Despite that, there is a set of guidelines provided by Botox’s manufacturer Allergan that can provide an estimate on how much Botox each patient will need for the final result they seek.

What is a unit of Botox?

Botox is measured in units, an arbitrary unit of measurement derived by animal studies that correlate to a fixed number of botulinum molecules. Units measure the biologic strength of the Botox; it’s a scale to standardize the ability of Botox to relax the nerve. Units are unique to Botox and are determined by Allergan (all other neurotoxins and dermal fillers are measured differently). Each vial of Botox contains 100 units, which can be split into individual blocks for treating various areas.

Unit Guidelines: How much Botox is needed per facial area

Generally accepted guidelines have been published that list amount of Botox in units to treat the most common facial areas. Most Botox providers use these guidelines as a starting point and customize a treatment plan for each patient (given the patient’s current condition and desired results).

Here’s the recommended units of Botox needed to treat common areas:

chart botox units per facial area

  • Frown or Glabellar Lines: 15-25 Botox units
  • Crow’s feet: 5-15 Botox units per side
  • Forehead lines: 10-30 Botox unites
  • Eyebrows: 2-5 Botox units per side
  • Nasalis “Bunny” lines: 5-10 Botox units
  • Upper lip lines: 4-8 Botox units
  • Smile lift: 3-6 Botox units
  • Dimpled chin: 2-6 Botox units
  • Marionette lines: 2-8 Botox units
  • Pout boost: 2-4 Botox units
  • Gummy smile: 2-4 Botox units
  • Neck bands: 25-50 Botox units

Note that the only treatments listed above that are FDA approved are for glabellar lines and crow’s feet. The other treatments are considered off-label uses.

Characteristics that influence how much Botox you will need

There are many different factors that can determine how well a patient reacts to Botox, and therefore impacts how much neurotoxin is required to achieve a desired final result. Some of the most well-known characteristics include:

  • Gender: Typically men have larger facial muscles compared to women and thus they generally need more Botox.
  • Facial muscle strength: Beyond size, people have differing facial muscle strength which is typically developed through repetition of actions like frowning, smiling, squinting, or pursing the lips. Individuals who are more prone to these repetitions will require more Botox.
  • Metabolism: Everyone has differing metabolism levels which will determine how long the effects of Botox will last. Botox typically lasts for 3-4 months.
  • Aesthetic Goals: Some patients choose to maintain facial movement (partial muscle functioning) while others do not mind a more motionless result.
  • Wrinkle Severity: The more severe or deep the wrinkle, the more Botox will be needed for proper treatment.
  • Face Shape & Size: Patients with larger foreheads will require more Botox units compared to patients with a smaller forehead.

Always get the recommended number of Botox units

It’s important for your dermatologist to make sure that you receive the proper amount of Botox units required for your individual needs and goals. Attempting to save money by under treating an area will not create a satisfying result and could end up costing you more money if a fix is needed. An experienced Botox injector will determine the right amount of Botox needed to deliver the results you are looking for.

Gregory Nikolaidis, MD

Gregory A. Nikolaidis, MD is a Board Certified Dermatologist. Dr. Nikolaidis serves as a Botox® Cosmetic Black Diamond Level National Education Faculty Member, and he has additionally trained numerous physicians on Sculptra Aesthetic, Radiesse, Restylane, and other non-invasive procedure techniques. He was among the first cosmetic surgeons in the United States to offer Smartlipo laser body contouring.

5 Responses to “How Much Botox Do I Need?”

  1. Avatar Rae says:

    Great post Maegan, I’m currently thinking about Botox and this was helpful. I didn’t understand units and areas but I think I get it now.

  2. Avatar Julia says:

    Very helpful post guys, I’m coming in next week knowing more about how botox works

  3. Avatar Kim says:

    Hello, I was wondering if there is an “average” number of units that dermatologists use for the eye area? interested in treating the my eye area!!

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Kim, thanks for reading our post and for submitting your great question! The average dose for around the eyes is usually between 12-24 units, so typically something in that range. It can, however, vary depending on your individual facial characteristics.

      If you are in the Austin area please give us a call to setup an appointment. I hope that helps!

      WD Staff

  4. Avatar L says:

    Great and informative post! I’ve always wondered what areas can be treated and how many units they would need. Thanks for this helpful info!

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