Derms Explain Exactly What Masseter Botox Is

Derms Explain Exactly What Masseter Botox Is featured image
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Headaches. A sore jaw. Damaged teeth. Anyone who has experienced Bruxism, the term for teeth grinding and jaw clenching, is all too familiar with these symptoms. Oftentimes, your dentist may prescribe a night guard. But when that doesn’t cut it, masseter Botox may be the solution. 

The masseter muscle runs along the back of the jaw, from the cheekbone to the lower jawline, and its main role is to move the jaw up and down while you chew. It also has a major impact on the shape of your face, which is why masseter Botox can alter your appearance. Though masseter Botox was designed to help alleviate teeth grinding and the side effects that come with it, it also has aesthetic benefits, which has made it popular beyond the dentist’s chair. 

“Botox is a neuromodulator that blocks certain chemical signals from nerves that make muscles contract,” says Clifton, NJ dermatologist Hee Jin Koh, MD. “Botox in the masseter essentially decreases masseter muscle contraction, which then causes masseter muscle to atrophy or shrink in size.”

Read on for everything you need to know about masseter Botox.

  • Hee Jin Koh, MD is a board-certified dermatologist in Clifton, NJ
  • Anna Karp, DO is a board-certified dermatologist in New York

What is masseter Botox?

“Masseter Botox is when Botox (the brand name for one neuromodulator) or another neuromodulator is injected into the jaw’s masseter muscle to help alleviate tension (from grinding or clenching teeth) and slim the jawline,” Dr. Koh says. “It is an off-label usage.” 

What does Botox in the masseter do?

The masseter muscle is used for chewing. It can be hypertrophic, and Botox can help relax it, explains New York dermatologist Anna Karp, DO. “By temporarily reducing the muscle’s activity, Botox injections cause the masseter muscle to shrink, and this reduces tension,” Dr. Karp says. “This can alleviate discomfort caused by clenching and grinding and potentially lessen headaches. It can also help slim someone’s face.”

How long does Botox in the masseter last?

It can last anywhere between three to six months. “I find, clinically, that it lasts longer than Botox in other parts of the face,” Dr. Karp adds.

Does masseter Botox slim your face?

“Masseter Botox reduces masseter muscle contraction, and therefore, the muscle thins out over time,” Dr. Koh says.

However, Dr. Karp cautions that it’s only effective for slimming the face if the masseter muscle is hypertrophic. “If you have a normal size masseter muscle, you might not notice much of a difference,” Dr. Karp says. “When relaxed with Botox, it can create a more V-shaped and defined jawline.”

Who is not a good candidate for masseter Botox?

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and people with neuromuscular disorders or skin conditions near the injection site should all steer clear of masseter Botox. “I would not recommend to those with jowls and skin laxity of the lower face, since masseter Botox can exacerbate the appearance of jowls.”

How much does masseter Botox cost?

It depends on the dose, but typically the cost can range from $500 to $1,000. Men usually need more units.

What are the benefits of masseter Botox?

Its (off-label) benefits are that it helps reshape the jawline. For those with TMJ symptoms, such as soreness, it has perks in that realm. “It addresses issues caused by tight masseter muscles, including teeth grinding (bruxism), jaw tension/pain and headaches,” Dr. Karp says. 

What can you expect before, during and after the procedure?

“Your provider (dermatologist or plastic surgeon) will examine you to make sure you’re a good candidate for masseter Botox,” Dr. Koh says. “Your provider will ask you to clench your teeth to palpate the area for injection. Most providers inject without numbing. There’s usually minimal bleeding and a low chance of bruising.”

Expect a series of injections—typically three to four—on each side of the face, directly into the muscle through the skin. “The injections are not as painful as Botox in other areas of the face, but you can have some soreness after,” Dr. Karp says.

Recovery and downtime afterward are very minimal. “You can do everything normally after masseter Botox injection,” Dr. Koh says.

However, it takes at least a couple of weeks to see results. “Most people take a month to see the full effect of the treatment,” Dr. Karp says. “It’s possible to have bruising or temporary swelling after the procedure. You want to go to someone who understands facial anatomy and is experienced with doing this type of procedure.”

What are alternatives to masseter Botox?

To alleviate jaw pain, Dr. Karp recommends heat therapy to relax tight muscles or cold therapy to help with inflammation. Some people benefit from using mouthguards. She says, “For jawline slimming, facial massage and gua sha are alternatives, but the results won’t be as powerful as those achieved with neurotoxin.” 

Dr. Koh agrees, adding, “I’m not aware of any other non-invasive procedures that can achieve the same or as good of a result as masseter Botox.”

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