Botulinum toxin for treating the masseter jaw muscle

Botulinum toxin for treating the masseter jaw muscle: The risks and benefits of a growing trend

I recently read a news article saying that heightened stress due to the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis has caused a surge in people seeking botulinum toxin for jaw pain and tension and, as a Specialist Registrar in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, this didn’t surprise me.

The rise of botulinum toxin for masseter muscle treatment

The rise in the use of botulinum toxin injection for masseter muscle treatment stems from its proven effectiveness in tackling:

  • Bruxism
  • TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction)
  • Aesthetic concerns (such as slimming the jawline)
  • As a less intrusive alternative to surgery

Given the relatively minimal potential risks and side effects of botulinum toxin, an increasing number of patients are choosing this non-surgical method to resolve their issues.

What are the main indications for masseter muscle treatment with botulinum toxin?

The main indications for treatment of the masseter muscle with botulinum toxin are bruxism, facial slimming, and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ). The number of botulinum toxin units needed for masseter muscle treatment can differ based on factors like the size of the jaw, the extent of clenching, and what product is being used. By tailoring the dosage to the individual patient, clinicians can optimise the treatment outcomes and minimise potential side effects.

Bruxism, or the grinding and clenching of teeth, can lead to a range of issues, including masseter muscle hypertrophy and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).
By targeting the masseter and temporal muscles, botulinum toxin injections can alleviate pain and discomfort while also helping to avoid wear of the dentition that can lead to tooth breakdown and altered facial aesthetics.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) affect the jaw joint and can result in pain, clicking, and restricted movement of the jaw.
Patients who undergo botulinum toxin injections alongside other conservative & minimally invasive measures for TMJ may experience improvements in jaw movement and a reduction in associated pain and discomfort. By targeting the masseter and temporal muscles, these injections may alleviate symptoms and improve the overall quality of life for those affected by temporomandibular joint disorders.

Facial slimming
Facial slimming can be achieved with botulinum toxin injections, resulting in a more contoured and attractive jawline. This treatment option involves injecting botulinum toxin into the masseter muscles to reduce their size, ultimately leading to a more defined and slim appearance.
Patients who undergo facial slimming with botulinum toxin injections often report high satisfaction levels and noticeable improvements in their facial appearance. By addressing masseter muscle hypertrophy and other associated issues, this treatment can provide both functional and aesthetic benefits for patients seeking a more contoured and balanced facial appearance.

What are the risks of botulinum toxin injections in the masseter?

Although botulinum toxin injections for masseter muscle treatment have shown effectiveness and relative safety, potential risks and side effects can include pain and bruising at the injection site, flu-like symptoms, headache, temporary muscle weakness, asymmetry, and allergic reactions.
Understanding the potential risks and side effects of botulinum toxin injections for masseter muscle treatment is essential for patients to make informed decisions and manage their expectations accordingly.

Temporary muscle weakness
Temporary muscle weakness may occur after botulinum toxin injections but typically resolves over time. This side effect can result in:

  • A decrease in masticatory forces and pain
  • Smile limitation

While these side effects can be uncomfortable, they are generally short-lived and resolve within 1-2 months.
By ensuring proper injection techniques and dosages, the risk of temporary muscle weakness can be minimised, allowing patients to experience the benefits of botulinum toxin injections for masseter muscle treatment with minimal complications.

Asymmetry can result from uneven injections or diffusion of the toxin into adjacent muscles such as the zygomaticus or buccinator. This can lead to changes in facial expressions or facial asymmetry after botulinum toxin injections for masseter muscle treatment. However, with proper injection techniques, the risk of asymmetry can be minimised by ensuring that the toxin is administered into the intended muscle rather than the surrounding muscles.

Allergic reactions
Allergic reactions to botulinum toxin, while rare, can still occur in certain individuals. These sensitivities to allergens may range from mild to severe and, in some cases, can even cause anaphylaxis.

The Interface Aesthetics Jaw & Lower Face Masterclass course

For practitioners who are already experienced in offering injectables, training in advanced indications, such as those for the lower face and jawline, can widen their scope of non-surgical aesthetic practice.

Treating more complex areas of the face can be highly rewarding in terms of the results you can achieve for patients and the skills you can develop as an aesthetic practitioner. But these advanced areas carry far greater risks, so it is vital to undertake appropriate training.

Our Jaw & Lower Face Masterclass was designed by me to help delegates refine their skills and expand their expertise in the field of aesthetics. Aimed at experienced delegates who already have a solid foundation in injectables and hands-on experience with cannula techniques, this is an opportunity to take your patient offering to the next level and learn advanced techniques for the jawline, chin, and lower face.

The emphasis will be on hands-on practical training, with patients hand-picked to provide injecting opportunities for delegates.

The masterclass will cover:

  • Advanced anatomy of lower face and neck, including skeletal, dental and soft tissue factors
  • Treatment planning
  • Assessing for volume loss systematically
  • Botox® ‘rebalancing’ alongside dermal fillers
  • Adding jawline definition and size
  • Jawline slimming
  • Profile analysis
  • Gender-specific treatment for feminising and masculinising the face
  • Safety considerations, complications and pitfalls
  • Product selection – learn how to use the latest products and equipment to achieve the best results for your patients
  • Recent advances in trends and techniques – gain invaluable insights into the latest industry trends and techniques

In summary

Botulinum toxin injections for masseter muscle treatment offer a non-invasive and effective solution for those suffering from bruxism, jaw tension, and aesthetic concerns in the jaw area. With proper patient selection and expectations, this treatment option can yield significant benefits and high patient satisfaction for those seeking relief from jaw pain and discomfort, as well as improved facial appearance. But these advanced areas carry far greater risks, so it is vital to undertake appropriate training. With ongoing research and advancements in the field, the future is bright for botulinum toxin and its applications in masseter muscle treatments.