It is a drug made from a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum called botulinum toxin. It is used medically to treat certain muscular conditions and cosmetically remove wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing muscles.
Botulinum toxin is sold commercially under the names:
In fact, according to a recent Superdrug survey, women become concerned about the effects of ageing at just 29, with their top worries being wrinkles and crow’s feet.
Botulinum toxin injections block certain chemical signals from nerves, mostly signals that cause muscles to contract. The most common use of these injections is to temporarily relax the facial muscles that underlie and cause wrinkles, such as:
Botulinum toxin injections are also used to treat conditions that affect how the body functions. Examples include:
Botox Might Not Do What You Want It to
Many people confuse what Botox actually does with other age-fighting beauty injectables. “[Botox's] only benefit is to render a muscle weaker for 3-4 months. It doesn't fill lines, it just makes it harder to make the muscle contraction that creates the lines,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Misbah Khan, owner of M. Khan Dermatology in New York City. So will it work on those wrinkles around the mouth? “No. If you have smile lines [the parentheses around the mouth], you'll need a filler [like Restylane] to erase them.”
There's a Black Market
Many coupon services run deals for cheap series of Botox, and they’re probably all too good to be true. Before you buy into anything, know who and what you’re dealing with. “Do not look for the better deal. Make sure you know what’s going in your face. If it's too cheap, it may be acquired on the black market, or the Botox they’re using might be expired or about to expire," warns Dr. Khan.
You Could Have an Allergic Reaction
You may know that Botox is derived from the same bacteria as the toxin botulism, and while you absolutely cannot catch botulism from the use of Botox, there is a small chance that you could have an allergic reaction to preservatives and ingredients used. "Some reactions that have been reported include itching, rash, welts, asthma symptoms or feeling faint,” says Dr. Dennis Gross, founder of 900 5th Dermatology and creator of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare. If you do have a reaction, call your doctor right away.
An Unskilled Injector Might Leave You Lopsided
“If the Botox is injected wrong in any part of your face, you may have a lopsided appearance,” says Dr. Gross. “Just remember that there is an artistry involved in the technique, so be sure your physician is highly experienced and skilled at administering it.”
Overdoing It Could Lead to Drooping—or Worse
“Drooping of the eyebrows can happen even in the best of hands; it can occur if too much is injected in one place,” says Dr. Khan. And if you’re already using Botox, over-application could make it worse. “Overuse of Botox can cause the muscles to become so weak that they can't support the flesh.” The results can look unnatural, and even worse, be painful. “If too much Botox is applied during a neck rejuvenation, it can cause the side of the face to droop, or in some cases the muscles that hold the neck up weaken to the point where you can't swallow or hold your head up."
Speaking Up Can Divert Disaster
You might think that you really, really want Botox no matter the small risks, but the pursuit of beauty is never worth harming your health. As with any other procedure, you should always disclose your full medical history before sitting in the chair. “Make sure to tell your doctor about all of your muscle or nerve conditions, as you may have an increased risk of serious side-effects, including difficulty swallowing and/or breathing,” cautions Dr. Gross. “Also, inform your doctor of any surgery plans, weakness of forehead muscles, recent injections, or medicines you are currently taking.” Dr. Gervaise Gerstner, L’Oréal Paris Consulting Dermatologist adds one more caution to that list: “Be sure to disclose any autoimmune neuromotor disease like myasenthia gravis.”
Results Are Not Instant
“It takes about three to seven days to show the full effect, and results will last about four months,” says Dr. Gross. And those results vary, depending on the depth of your wrinkles. “If you start Botox treatments just as fine lines are beginning to appear and continue them as you age, you can prevent select expression lines from forming at all,” advises Dr. Gross. Patients who already have pronounced lines may see benefits in a bit more time, “It takes a few days to see results, and a full two weeks to see the full effects of a Botox treatment,” explains Dr. Khan.
Botox is Not Painless
Although getting Botox is not particularly painful for most patients, since there are needles involved, you can’t expect to feel absolutely nothing when getting injected. “During the procedure, you can expect a slight pinch from the needle. There are numbing creams available in topical and aesthetic forms,” says Dr. Gross. Dr. Khan is also known to use ice to numb the area for people who have a low tolerance or phobia of needles.
Aspirin and Fish Oil Don't Mix With Botox
“We tell our patients to stop using aspirin products up to a week before a treatment because they are blood thinners,” cautions Dr. Gross. "Discontinuing the use of aspirin the week before will help to keep bruising down. Also, we tell our patients to stop using fish oils a week beforehand because they also promote bruising for the same blood thinning reason.” Of course, always discuss changing the dosage of medicine with your primary physician beforehand.
Hair-Drying Is Off Limits Right After the Procedure
“There’s no lowering of the head for two hours post-procedure,” says Dr. Gerstner. “No yoga, no bending over, no blow drying your hair, no tight hats, no napping. In other words, heads up!”
It Might Cure More Than Wrinkles
If you have excessive underarm or palm sweating or suffer from serious migraines, talk to your doctor about using Botox to cure these ills. It's been proven to diminish or stop excessive sweating, called hyperhidrosis, and to reduce the severity of migraines too—but don’t try tacking either treatment onto your cosmetic visit. You’ll need to book separate appointments. One quick tip: always take a quick peek at the box. “Botox meant for cosmetic purposes will say ‘Botox Cosmetic’ on the packaging,” says Dr. Khan. “Botox for medical purposes will say that on the package.”
A Happier Look Might Actually Improve Your Mood
If you’re prone to frowning, “eventually those muscles strengthen in that formation, which means it takes much effort to smile and look happy. When Botox relaxes those muscles, you look happier, which can really improve your mood and confidence,” says Dr. Gross.
Side effects of Botox include:
From smoothing out wrinkles to stopping excessive sweat, there are a number of benefits of Botox injections, so long as you don't mind having your facial movements minimized. Botox is still new, so long-term side effects are not yet known, but it seems safe thus far.
Various Benefits of Botox Injections
Botox is derived from Clostridium Botulinum, a bacterium that can be dangerous if eaten, but as a cosmetic created in the laboratory, seems safe. Because it has the effect of freezing muscles, it was originally developed to treat spasms, particularly overactive eye spasms. However, it was soon found to minimize the look of crow's feet and superficial wrinkles because it freezes the face. If you can't make the movement that emphasizes the wrinkle, the wrinkle may as well not exist.
While this is the most popular use of Botox, it has also been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of migraine headaches. This is particularly beneficial for both sufferers and doctors, because there are virtually no side effects, whereas most pain medications have a host of side effects.
Botox is also useful for those with hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweat. This is a syndrome that is usually treated with prescription anti-perspirants, the long-term effects of which aren't known and, for those whose hyperhidrosis is especially severe, is only mildly effective. Botox, however, balances the problem and relieves the condition for several months at a time.
Benefits of Botox Injections for Migraines
Exactly how Botox treats migraine pain is unknown, but medical experts think that the drug blocks the sensory nerves that project the pain messages to the brain, as well as relaxing muscles, thus making them less sensitive to an onslaught of pain. The only side effects observed thus far are a temporary drooping of the skin around the injection site, which can be avoided by changing the point of injection, and the occasional slight bruising, bleeding or burning sensation, all of which resolve themselves shortly. People who receive Botox injections for migraines report the instances of the headaches drop by at least half, if not more, and the headaches are less severe.
Benefits of Botox Injections for Men
Studies are suggesting that men with enlarged prostates can gain relief from Botox, and unlike those who use the injections for wrinkles, headaches or sweat, the relief can last up to a year after the injection, as opposed to only a few months. By injecting Botox directly into the prostate gland, problems like urinary tract infections and frequent urination are improved considerably. The side effects that can occur with medication, such as incontinence or erectile dysfunction, are not observed with Botox. The Botox reduces the size of the gland, thus improving the flow of urine.
Sources: medicalnewstoday, mayoclinic.org, emedicineh