Botox is big business. And it is getting bigger. In 2015, sales for Botox, according to manufacturer Allergan, reached the $2 billion mark. It is safe to say that the makers of Botox can afford to splurge and enjoy a premium carnivorous experience at Outback Steakhouse without worrying about breaking their bank.

Botox has been popularized as being a fashionably quick fix to an “age-old” issue: wrinkles. Wrinkles happen, as do balding heads, gray chest hairs, and bigger glasses, as we age. Because age slows for no one (except maybe Matthew McConaughey). But unless you are sitting in a Lincoln town car in a standoff with a slumbering bull, you are likely getting older. And that means wrinkles. Botox is also used for muscle spasms and even more popularly, relieving migraine headaches.

Botox has rescued a great many faces from the detriments of age and ‘cured” more than its fair share of migraines, but not without some shades of controversy being cast. Those who create the Botox product and those who apply the product to patients and those patients who take the product regularly will tell you that Botox is a safe experience. Botox, according to many, yields only upsides.

So where is the middle ground? What’s fact and what’s fiction?

To start, let’s realize that we should be happy with ourselves as we age. We should love our extra wrinkles and pudgy bellies and gray beards. For the record, I had to take a shot of bourbon in order to write those sentences without collapsing. I want to look 22 again. I was a modern marvel at 22. The fact is, the harder we live our lives, the more damage we do to our skin and the more wrinkles we get. Yes, having fun harms our skin (it is a modern day blasphemy).

So let’s have a closer look at Botox.

How Does Botox Work?

Botox cancels nerve signals that are sent to the muscles. In other words, Botox induces a temporary form of paralysis in a very specific, isolated area. Botox is powerful stuff. Like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, Soda Popinski, powerful. And because of that, Botox is measured, in a calculated fashion, in trillionths of a gram.

When Botox “numbs” the areas of skin where wrinkles are inclined to form, it alleviates the wrinkles (or at least to some degree). If a licensed doctor does it correctly, you might end up looking a little less wrinkled around the eyes and forehead. If an unlicensed quack doctor scams you, you might end up looking like two saucer plates one hard laugh away from shattering. Do your research, your Botox before and after depends on it.

Is Botox Safe?

In 2009, The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning regarding the matter, claiming that Botox could potentially move beyond the injection site. They even added a safety warning.

“to highlight that botulinum toxin may spread from the area of injection to produce symptoms consistent with botulism,” including “unexpected loss of strength or muscle weakness. … Understand that swallowing and breathing difficulties can be life-threatening and there have been reports of deaths related to the effects of the spread of botulinum toxin.”

Botox, however, has a great resume on its side. It has very little history of injury to patients who have chosen to use it either for vanity’s sake or for otherwise.

“Botox has a very wide therapeutic window. That means the minimum effective dose is a tiny fraction of the minimum toxic dose. Likely 1/1,000th.” Dr. Alex Roher M. D., the owner at San Diego Botox, told Health Today.  “Thus, at doses responsible for producing its cosmetic benefits, Botox is highly unlikely to produce any unwanted side effects, especially at a distal site from where it was injected. It has an impressive safety profile and an impressive 15+ year track record.”

Botox For Migraines

Botox for migraines was truly an accidental discovery. People who were trying to fancy up their foreheads (having Botox injected to relieve wrinkles) were noticing that they were experiencing fewer headaches. Of course, anytime I look a little less old, I experience fewer headaches as well. Because of this, Botox pursued FDA approval for an “off-label use.”

The problem with Botox for migraines is that it is a difficult option for those who experience consistent headaches. Botox is expensive (Botox for migraines costs somewhere around $525 per vial ), so going multiple times a month for something that an insurance company isn’t likely to cover is not a reasonable scenario. Also, some patients on RealSelf claim they experience neck pain as a side-effect.

Botox Cost

The million dollar question (almost literally), what does Botox cost? Well, it isn’t cheap, I should say that at the start. At Dr. Roher’s San Diego Botox, his Botox cost $12 per unit. Don’t get overly excited, if you want to lose the frown lines, a man would need 20 to 30 units while his female counterpart would require 18 to 22 units. It definitely cost some cash, but most people say they go back every six months, so the effects do tend to last.

How To Naturally Prevent Wrinkles

If you averse to getting your Botox fill, but you also hate wrinkles, you might try doing a better job of taking care of yourself.

Don’t smoke

Surprise! Smoking is not only bad for your lungs but bad for your skin, also. Botox couldn’t possibly fix the deep and involved damage that smoking will inevitably cause on your body.

Drink water

Hydration is key when it comes to having wrinkle free skin. Coconut water is another good source. Lots of fruits and veggies. Moderate the caffeine and alcohol, both tend to dehydrate you.

Get your antioxidants

Antioxidants break down free radicals. Free radicals are the enemy of healthy looking skin. You want lots of vitamins C, E, and A. Kale, Prunes, Kiwis, Blueberries, Spinach, Walnuts, Cranberries are all great sources of antioxidants.

Be careful of your moisturizer

Try to use non-toxic sources of moisturizers on your skin. For example, coconut oil is a great natural option for lotion (though, test it first on a small portion of your face’s skin in case it reacts poorly). Just because it is natural, doesn’t mean it won’t react badly. Argan oil is another wonderful option.

Conclusion: Botox seems to be a safe procedure, but it definitely cost a pretty penny. If you take care of your skin, you might not need Botox.