The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that in 2012, 6.1 million cosmetic procedures using Botox injections were performed across the United States. As Botox procedures become more affordable, their popularity as a cosmetic treatment continues to grow.

Yet despite their great popularity and the impressive results Botox injections deliver, there are still a lot of questions regarding this course of treatment. Following are a few of the most common questions we encounter, and some realistic, scientifically informed answers:

Is Botox poisonous, and therefore unsafe?

Botox is made from an extremely diluted form of the botulinum toxin. In its pure form, botulinum is a neurotoxin that can cause botulism, a severe and sometimes deadly type of food poisoning. However, the highly diluted nature of the toxin present in Botox ensures its safety. Additionally, Botox is injected into specific muscles, and when injected correctly does not affect other parts of the body.

It’s interesting to note that Botox is not the only medication made from a toxic substance. Captopril, a widely-used drug that reduces hypertension, is derived from snake venom. Distilled from the poisonous foxglove plant, Digitalis is a well-known treatment for cardiac disorders. Atropine, also used to treat patients in cardiac distress, is made from the highly toxic deadly nightshade.

Is Botox only used as a cosmetic treatment?

On the contrary, Botox is used to reduce the muscle spasms caused by cerebral palsy and many forms of dystonia — in fact, that’s how its wrinkle-reducing properties were discovered. Botox also aids in the treatment of excessive sweating, migraines, incontinence, and chronic neck and back pain.

Do Botox injections cause your face to “freeze up” or look distorted?

The results of a Botox treatment are largely dependent on the knowledge and skill of the practitioner who performs the procedure. This is why it’s important to choose a properly qualified medical professional who will use no more Botox than necessary, and who will perform injections with care and precision. When done properly, the result is a smooth, natural look.

Are Botox injections very painful, and will there be dangerous side effects?

Most people who have had Botox injections describe the feeling as mildly uncomfortable, comparable to an insect bite. The procedure uses a very small needle, the same type that diabetics use every day. Practitioners may also apply an anesthetic cream or freezing spray to the area prior to injection, which renders the injection completely painless.

Side effects are very rare, affecting less than 10 percent of those treated. If side effects do occur, they are mild and generally don’t last long. Typical among these are nausea, general fatigue, headache, rashes, and symptoms that resemble the flu. Occasionally there may be bruising, numbness, or pain at the injection site, or muscle weakness, especially around the eyes.

Do people really get addicted to Botox treatments?

Addictions are generally defined as uncontrollable behaviors that result in harm to the addict. There are no harmful or addictive ingredients in Botox, or in Botox procedures. The smooth, wrinkle-free appearance that results from a professionally administered treatment will last from three to four months. Most people find that a touch-up once or twice a year maintains their desired look.