Also known as Botulinum Toxin Type A, Botox is produced by the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum. In large quantities, this protein is one of the most toxic substances in existence. It can produce botulism, a life-threatening form of food poisoning usually caused by improper handling of meat products. In Botox, the toxin is diluted to an FDA-approved level considered safe for humans. The purified liquid contains just enough toxin to paralyze small muscles but not enough to cause botulism. As with many toxins, minute amounts can be used medicinally.
What Is Botox Used For?
Botox is primarily used to temporarily paralyze facial muscles and thereby eliminate wrinkles. It’s also used to treat:
Blepharospasm (uncontrollable blinking)
Excessive underarm sweating
Strabismus (misaligned eyes)
Cervical dystonia (a neurological condition causing severe muscle contractions in the neck and shoulders)
Muscle spasms in the arms, hands and legs
Is Botox An Anti-Aging Treatment?
The application of Botox injections to remove facial wrinkles is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments in Sydney, Australia. It represents an annual industry totaling billions of dollars. The demand for Botox injections continues to rise, making it the fastest-growing anti-aging treatment on the market. Although Botox was originally developed to treat eye spasms, it found an immediate niche in the beauty industry and was approved in 2002 for cosmetic purposes.
How Does Botox Remove Wrinkles?
Botox paralyzes facial muscles that create wrinkles. It blocks the release of acetylcholine, a chemical released by nerve cells. Acetylcholine transmits electrical impulses from the brain to the muscles, directing them to move. After Botox injections, the muscles that cause wrinkling are temporarily out of order. The toxin paralyzes the muscles by inhibiting acetylcholine so wrinkles lessen or disappear. The effects can last anywhere from 3-6 months. Injections can remove existing wrinkles or prevent new wrinkles from forming as long as treatments are continued.
What Does Botox Treatment Involve?
The areas to be treated are prepped with anesthetic cream, after which the physician makes several small Botox injections into the muscles causing the wrinkles. Injection locations will depend on where these muscles are situated. The procedure takes about 30 minutes. After a few days, frown-producing muscles are unable to contract. It’s impossible to frown even if you try. Paralyzed muscles gradually regain their mobility and within six months are again fully functional. Originally used to treat frown lines between the eyebrows, the use of Botox has expanded to treat crows feet, forehead lines, frown lines around the mouth and even wrinkles on the neck.
- What Are The Benefits?
Unlike invasive surgical treatments like face and eye lifts, Botox can achieve noticeable and sometimes dramatic results with a few injections, minimal pain and no downtime. Skin appears smoother and firmer, fine lines can disappear, and moderate to severe frown lines may be greatly reduced. These results are most apparent within the first two weeks after treatment. Regular injections are required to maintain the effect. Sometimes the treated muscles can lose their ability to function over time, and Botox is no longer needed. On the other hand, the effects of Botox can also become shorter over time if antibodies to the toxin develop.Botox injections can be combined with injectable fillers like Hylaform and Sculptra. Hylaform is made of hyaluronic acid and gives the skin a youthful glow. Sculptra corrects for fat loss in the face, makes skin look thicker and can improve the appearance of sunken eyes and cheeks. These fillers correct problems that Botox injections do not. Side effects are generally minimal and short-lived. Although bruising, redness, numbness, swelling and pain sometimes occur, they usually clear up within a few days. Allergic reactions are rare.
- What’s The Downside?
The biggest downside of Botox is the expense. According to a 2005 survey conducted by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Botox treatments ranged from about $370 to $500. Regular treatments 2-4 times per year can cost from $1,000 to $2,000 or more. Botox treatments for cosmetic purposes are usually not covered by insurance. Another drawback is that Botox won’t solve all wrinkle problems. Muscles only cause some wrinkles, not all. Wrinkles can result from sun exposure and smoking; others are caused by loss of skin elasticity that results in saggy and baggy skin. While these problems can be treated by other means, Botox does nothing to help. Finally, while Botox inhibits wrinkling, it also inhibits facial movement. You may unable to lift your eyelids all the way up, squint or frown.
Are There Other Side Effects?
In addition to pain, swelling and bruising, side effects of Botox can include:
- Upset stomach
- Flu-like symptoms
- Muscle weakness
Most patients tolerate the treatments without distress and, if side effects occur, they generally clear up within a few days. Sometimes the toxin can cause temporary eyelid drooping, a crooked smile or unevenness around the mouth. This generally happens when too much Botox is used or when injections are incorrectly placed. Botox contains donated human plasma that can be contaminated with viruses or infections. Although the plasma is tested and treated, there is still a small risk of contracting a disease.
Can I Get Botulism?
Although it’s rare, there is some risk of contracting botulism from Botox injections. This is more likely to occur when larger doses are used to treat muscle spasms in the body.
It’s unusual for Botox to migrate from facial injection sites, but call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Hoarse voice
- Severe muscle weakness
- Problems talking, breathing or swallowing
- Vision problems
- Loss of bladder controlWho Should Not Use Botox?
- Anyone taking certain antibiotics or other drugs that block nerve impulses to the muscles
- Those with infections, swelling or redness in the area where Botox would be injected
People who are allergic or potentially allergic to BotoxCommon-Sense Cautions
Do not get Botox treatments from more than one physician at a time. Using Botox more frequently than prescribed will not increase it’s effectiveness and could result in serious side effects. If you switch doctors, let your new physician know when you last received an injection.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you suffer from any of the following:
- Lambert-Eaton Syndrome
- Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Breathing disorders like asthma and emphysema
- Trouble swallowing
- Seizure disorders
- Heart disease
- Weakness in facial muscles like drooping eyelids
- A recently changed appearance of the face
- These conditions may require an adjusted dose or special testing.
- Also advise your doctor if:
- If you’ve recently had or will have surgery
- You’ve had other Botox injections like Dysport or Myobloc
- Are pregnant, breastfeeding or are trying to get pregnant
- It is presently unknown whether Botox harms unborn babies or contaminates breast milk.
Choosing A Doctor
It’s vital to choose a skilled, qualified and experienced physician in Sydney to perform your Botox injections. Look for a medical office with a sterile environment and a professional manner. Consult with the doctor before scheduling a Botox treatment to find out whether the injections are right for you.