Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What is Botox?

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This is a guest post by Sachin from the Cosmos Clinic in Sydney Australia

Botox here, botox there… it seems that all we hear about these days in the cosmetic surgery industry is botox. Hollywood stars use it, New York socialites swear by it… but what is it? If you’re like me, you don’t want to put something in your body if you don’t know what it’s made of. So I did a little research on botox and I want to share my findings with you.


Botox is kind of scary: it’s a protein that comes from the clostridium botulinum bacterium. (Botulism is a paralytic disorder caused by poisoning through the aforementioned bacterium. It can be caught in the digestive tract, from food or through contamination of a wound.) Botox is basically the most powerful neurotoxin known to man.

In its current form, Botox is a denatured version of the toxin that can be safely introduced in muscle tissue.

How it got in cosmetic medicine

The medical effects of Botox were first studied for ophthalmic treatments. It was first used to treat strabismus, or “crossed eyes” and uncontrollable blinking.

After the FDA approved botox in 1989, plastic surgeons started using it to treat frown lines between the eyebrows. Trials were conducted and botox was again approved for wrinkle and frown line treatments in 2002.

Since then, there has been an explosion of research about the potential therapeutic uses of this otherwise deadly toxin.

Other uses

Other than for treating wrinkles and frown lines, botox can also be used to treat:
• Muscle spams
• Upper motor neuron syndrome
• Excessive sweating
• Cervical dystonia
• Chronic migraine

How it works

Botox works by applying the paralyzing effect of the toxin locally and in small doses. Wrinkles appear because of muscle tension; botox works by paralyzing or relaxing the offending muscles, thus reducing or smoothing out the wrinkle.

In more scientific terms, botox blocks the brain’s signals to the nerves that control the muscles. It means that your muscle will stop receiving the “order” to contract, since the message can’t make it to your nerve endings.

How it’s used

Botox is injected without any anesthesia. The procedure is quick and mostly painless—only the prick of the needle in your skin.

Botox lasts between 3 and 4 months and up to 6 months, depending your body’s ability to absorb and eliminate the toxin. This means that if you want the effects to last, you need to repeat the injections two to four times a year.

Risks and side effects

Botox is generally safe but there are several side effects, minor and temporary, that may appear. These include allergic reaction to the toxin, bleeding, bruising or loss of sensation.

The idea of using a deadly toxin to reduce the look of wrinkles might be scary, but millions of patients every year use Botox and dermal fillers and very few get any serious side effects. For a quick rejuvenating effect before an important event, it might actually be your best bet! Just remember it takes a few days for the Botox to become effective.

Aaron Stone MD - Plastic Surgeon Los Angeles
Aaron Stone MD - twitter
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