What’s masseter Botox, and why is everyone scrambling to get an injection?

The procedure helps relax muscles we often clench in times of stress.
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Hannah Minn

· 3 min read

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Unclench those jaw muscles, girlies. Masseter Botox is the latest cosmetic surgery trend to gain a foothold now that a pandemic’s worth of clenching and grinding has caught up with us.

The treatment requires a certified medical professional to inject Botox into the facial masseter muscle, which is responsible for jaw motions like chewing. The procedure can lessen facial pain and improve symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).

“When you inject Botox, it actually blocks the nerve signal sent to your muscle, which reduces the muscle contraction,” Christina Nalbone, director of clinical education and operations at Ever/Body, a cosmetic dermatology center, told Healthcare Brew. “So in this case, it won't paralyze your masseter muscle, but it does reduce the muscle contraction so that your muscle reduces in strength and in turn reduces in size.”

Patients are increasingly turning to facilities like Ever/Body, which has locations in New York and the DMV area (with a facility coming soon to Texas); Modern Age; and traditional doctors’ and dentists’ offices for treatment. Melissa Doft, a plastic surgeon in New York City, told Refinery29 she’s seen “a notable increase in clients booking in for cosmetic masseter Botox.”

Nalbone added that social media has made the treatment more popular, notably because it has a side effect—face slimming.

“For both TMJ and cosmetic purposes, you inject the same muscle. The difference is that sometimes for TMJ or other facial pain issues, you might inject other muscles…which is focused more on that diagnosis of TMJ, as well has higher doses and in different places,” Nalbone said. “We focus on the aesthetic indications for masseter Botox, even though they do overlap on their effect.”

Ever/Body spokesperson Marcela Pelaez told us that the cosmetic dermatology center “does not treat TMJ or any other facial pain conditions,” though patients will experience “a fringe benefit since the same muscle is being treated.”

Manufacturer AbbVie declined to comment on the anecdotal reports that masseter Botox is growing in popularity because “Botox is not currently approved [by the FDA] in the masseter indication,” spokesperson Toni Haubert told Healthcare Brew via email.

It can take up to a month to see results from the procedure, and its effects can last anywhere between four and nine months, according to Bayou City Dermatology, which runs full-service dermatology clinics in Texas. The service can cost between $750–$1,000 on average, according to Allure.

“It could truly be life-changing, and for a treatment with little downtime—the actual injections are relatively quick—I think it can have a large benefit,” Nalbone said. “You might be a little tender the next day. Don’t go to a steakhouse tonight.”

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