Botox injections employ a cosmetic form of the botulinum toxin. The procedure is intended to temporarily reduce crow's feet at the corner of the eyes, frown lines, and neck and forehead creases. Botox is effective by temporarily paralyzing the facial muscles that result in the appearance of wrinkles. Other uses for Botox injections exist and are becoming more common, including using the procedure to relieve excessive perspiration, muscle spasms in the eyes and neck, and migraine headaches.
What is Botox?
Botox is a cosmetic form of the Botulinum Toxin Type A. Botulinum Toxin Type A is a strong neurotoxin that prevents the release of acetylcholine, a chemical neurotransmitter in both the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS), at neuromuscular junctions. It is a protein complex that is produced by a bacteria called Clostridium Botulinum. This is the very same toxin that can make people very ill from food poisoning. The form of this toxin used in medical treatments is a purified, sterile toxin. Botox injections have become the fastest growing cosmetic procedure in the arena of cosmetic surgery.
When used as a cosmetic procedure, Botox treatment blocks the release of acetylcholine by nerve cells. These nerve cells normally signal muscle contractions. Preventing these muscle contractions leads to a degree of paralysis, preventing the underlying muscles from contracting. This results in frown lines and wrinkles becoming smoothed out for a period of time.
Medical uses for Botox have been available for many years. Botox was initially approved by the FDA in 1989 as a treatment used for eye muscle disorders, including blepharospasm (uncontrollable blinking) and strabismus (misaligned eyes). In 2000, it was approved to treat cervical dystonia (severe neck and shoulder contractions).
A side effect of Botox treatment of eye muscle disorders included a softening of the frown lines between the eyebrows. This was the beginning of Botox treatments as understood for cosmetic uses. After many clinical studies that demonstrated the toxin's ability to reduce or eliminate frown lines for up to 120 days, the FDA granted the manufacturers of Botox, Allergen Inc., approval for cosmetic uses of the toxin.
Botox Side Effects
There are risks of side effects with Botox use. Many believe that the best way to minimize these risks is to only allow doctors experienced with Botox cosmetic uses to provide injections. It goes without saying that 'Botox Parties' and the like do not qualify as safe use of this toxin. When a doctor injects Botox, he or she injects a very small amount of the toxin into a muscle, paralyzing it. Often, side effects are the result of too great a quantity of the toxin being injected, or the toxin being injected into the wrong muscle or too many muscles.
Botox side effects include; droopy eyelids, flu like symptoms, headache, upset stomach, and the risk of developing botulism. The risk of developing botulism, a potentially life threatening illness that causes paralysis across the body, is minimal if the toxin is used properly. Having said that, the risk of developing botulism clearly demonstrates the reality that Botox is not a cosmetic, but a potentially dangerous drug.
Is Botox right for you?
Do not receive a Botox injection from anyone but a qualified doctor experienced in Botox treatments, anywhere but in a medical setting. Discuss the potential results and risks with your family doctor first. Do not consider Botox treatment if you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or considering becoming pregnant. Advise your doctor if you have any preexisting conditions that cause muscle or nerve problems, or if you are taking antibiotics.
Some products and procedures have entered the marketplace as Botox alternatives. Botox costs can be prohibitive for many, and these alternatives seek to make effective treatments more accessible. Those searching for alternatives to Botox treatment may do so to avoid the risks associated with Botox injections, or due to the fact that they have become somewhat immune to Botox therapy
and require ever larger doses to achieve results.
The majority of products that act as alternatives to Botox are filling agents or injectables composed of collagen, fat, Fibril, and even Gore-Tex. Other cosmetic procedures offer the same or similar results as Botox, including skin resurfacing procedures, and various face
lift procedures, such as forehead and mid face lifts.
A new Botox alternative product is currently awaiting FDA approval. This product, called Artecol or Artefill is an injection composed of 75% bovine collagen and 25% plexiglas microbeads. Another product, called Argireline, is manufactured by the Spanish Company Lipotec. Somewhat like Botox, it is effective by inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters.
When exploring Botox treatments and Botox alternatives, always begin by talking to your regular doctor. Your doctor can assess whether you are a good candidate for Botox treatment, and can advise you about how to find a qualified doctor who is familiar with Botox treatments. Learn about other skincare products, such as luminishealth and Retin-A.