What are neuromodulators?

Dr. Roberta Huang stands in the lobby of her Tualatin medical facility and spa, where she and her staff provide a wide variety of cutting-edge treatments. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life
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Tualatin Life sat down with Dr. Roberta Huang of Lumera Regenerative Medicine to talk about one of the most popular aesthetic procedures, neuromodulators. 

TL: What are neuromodulators?

RH: Neuromodulators are substances that temporarily stop the communication between nerves and muscles, and therefore relax the muscle they are injected into. They are injected with tiny needles into the desired area, which has the effect of softening fine lines and wrinkles and restoring a smooth, youthful look. There are currently four neuromodulators on the market in the United States: Botox, Dysport, Jeuveau, and Xeomin. 

TL: Why are these treatments so popular? 

RH: Because they work! You can have a neuromodulator appointment at lunchtime and go back to work without anyone knowing. I suspect that now, with so many working from home and staring at themselves in virtual meetings all day, people are noticing the signs of aging more often, and seeking out these treatments. 

TL: What areas can be treated?

RH: The most common areas that we treat with neuromodulators are frown lines, forehead wrinkles, and crow’s feet. Other treatment areas include bunny lines (lines on the upper nose from crinkling), down-turned mouth corners, the jawline for facial slimming, and a “lip flip” for subtle lip enhancement. 

TL: Are neuromodulators just for women?

RH: Definitely not! Men get wrinkles and fine lines as they age too and therefore can also benefit from neuromodulator treatments. 

TL: My friend said she gets 36 units – what does that mean?

RH: Neuromodulators are dosed and priced by the unit. A great injector will determine dosage on a very individualized basis by studying your facial anatomy, how much movement you have, where you are in the aging process, and what your goals are. It’s unlikely you and your friend would receive the same dose. Dose largely determines how long the treatment will last – too few units and the treatment effect may wear off much more quickly. Typical doses range from 20-64 units. 

TL: How long does it take to see results?

RH: With all the neuromodulators on the market, you may start seeing results in a few days, but it takes up to 14 days for results to be fully achieved. 

TL: How long do results last?

RH: On average, a neuromodulator treatment will last 3-4 months. To maximize results and prevent wrinkles and lines from re-forming, it is ideal to get re-treatment every 3-4 months rather than waiting for the effects to fully wear off. 

TL: Am I going to look completely frozen?

RH: Only if you really want to. Most people prefer to preserve a little movement and expression and this can be achieved easily by using appropriate doses. 

TL: Are there any side effects? 

RH: Every procedure has side effects, but neuromodulators have an excellent safety profile. The most common side effect is that you’ll love it so much you’ll never want to go without it again! But in all seriousness, you may have mild bruising, swelling, or redness after injection. Some people get a mild headache. Asymmetry and drooping are uncommon and can largely be avoided with proper technique.  

TL: Any parting words?

RH: It’s important to see an experienced injector who treats you as an individual rather than doing the same cookie-cutter treatment on everyone. You will get the best results from a provider who takes the time to listen to and really assess you, and uses neuromodulators as just one tool in their facial rejuvenation tool box!

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