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Botox - Fountain of Youth Or Poison in Your Face?

Botox - Fountain of Youth Or Poison in Your Face?

Botox - Fountain of Youth Or Poison in Your Face?

Derived from the botulinum toxin type A, Botox is a brand name for a highly purified and diluted preparation of botulinum used in numerous medical and cosmetic applications. It is also sold under the names Dysport and Myobloc. Botox is most widely known for its use in removing wrinkles.

While the botulinum toxic itself is highly poisonous and even deadly, the same toxin in smaller doses can be used to safely treat a variety of conditions. Botox is most widely known for its use in removing wrinkles, but is also has numerous medical applications.

Botox was first used in medicine to treat strabismus, a condition in which a person's eyes do not align normally, and blepahrospasm, or uncontrolled blinking. Today, Botox is the most commonly performed cosmetic operation in America, with over four and a half million people getting the treatment in 2007.

Does Botox Work?

Botox does work to lessen the appearance of wrinkles, but this effect is temporary and has a host of risks attached, including paralysis of the wrong muscles and changes in facial expressions. So is Botox a fountain of youth or just poison injected into your face? Like so many things in life, the answer isn't black and white, and while this answer many not satisfy some readers, both are true to a certain extent.

What Is Botox Used For?

Cosmetically, Botox is only FDA approved for use in smoothing out wrinkles in the forehead between the eyebrows, reducing crow's feet, forehead lines and frown lines. Additionally, Botox is used to treat various medical conditions, including:

  • Achalasia - an esophageal disorder characterized by difficulty swallowing
  • Blepharospasm - involuntary blinking
  • Cervical Dystonia - a neurological disorder that causes the muscles around the neck and shoulder to contract uncontrollably
  • Hyperhidrosis - abnormal underarm sweating
  • Strabismus - crossed eyes

Studies of the use of Botox in treating other ailments such as migraines and prostate problems are ongoing.

How Does Botox Work?

The everyday facial expressions we all make, from happy to sad and everywhere in between, cause our skin to lose resilience. Cosmetic Botox injections work by blocking signals that are constantly firing from your nerves to your muscles. This causes a controlled weakening of the specific muscle targeted, and when the muscle doesn't contract, wrinkles don't show up as much. Noticeable improvements are usually seen within the first month after treatment.

How Is the Treatment Administered?

Botox is delivered to the muscle via a fine needle and causes little discomfort. The procedure only takes about ten minutes and requires no anesthesia. If you're uncomfortable with needles, an icepack or anesthetic cream will do the trick.

Do I Need to Do Anything to Prepare for Botox?

Botox treatment methods vary from clinic to clinic. Some doctors recommend avoiding alcohol for one week prior to treatment and avoiding aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications for two weeks prior. This helps reduce the risk of bruising after injections.

Can Botox Be Used on Other Wrinkles?

No. Botox is only approved by the FDA for use between the eyebrows.

Will Botox affect my ability to make expressions?

You will still be able to make all the facial expressions you always could after Botox injections, just without the wrinkles between your brows showing. Only the muscle that has been injected with Botox is paralyzed. Problems making facial expressions arise when the wrong muscles are paralyzed, and this typically occurs when Botox is administered by someone who's unqualified. The FDA strongly advises against attending Botox parties for this reason.

When Will I See the Effects of Botox?

Noticeable reduction of wrinkles will be seen within 2-3 days, and the full effects of Botox takes up to week to show.

How Long Does Botox Last?

The effects of a Botox injection last for approximately 4 - 6 months, and the wrinkles will return as the muscle starts to function normally again. Over time, the wrinkles will look smoother even without Botox, as the muscles are being conditioned to relax.

What Are the Side Effects of Botox?

The most common side effect of Botox is mild short-term bruising, which is caused by the mode of treatment rather than by the drug. When Botox is administered by a qualified medical professional side effects are quite rare but may include:

  • Allergic Reaction
  • Botulism - this illness is characterized by widespread paralysis and is rare when Botox is used correctly
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Paralysis of incorrect muscles
  • Sagging eyelids
  • Stomachache

Am I A Good Candidate For Botox?

Because the procedure, which requires a short series of injections over the span of a few minutes, is a fairly simple one, most people find they are good candidates for Botox. Botox is FDA approved for use on people between the ages of 18 and 65.

  • Do not use Botox if you are breastfeeding.
  • Do not use Botox if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
  • If you have a neurological or muscular disorder, tell your doctor during your consultation session.
  • If you have any allergies, tell your doctor during your consultation session.

If you have any concerns about taking Botox treatments, be sure to bring them up to your doctor. Being informed about the process is the best way to feel comfortable about your decision. In addition, you may want to ask your doctor for references and look at some of his or her before-and-after pictures to get an idea of what to expect.

The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the counsel and expertise of a medical professional. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your doctor.