Each year, more than 6 million Botox treatments are administered, making it one of the most popular cosmetic treatments in existence. As if that weren’t enough, Botox is used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including chronic migraines, crossed eyes and overactive bladder. Botox is a fascinating substance and there’s a lot to understand about it. Let’s discuss the basics – and how Botox can help you look and feel your best.
What is Botox?
Botox is derived from bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which can be found naturally in lakes, soil and even the intestinal tracts of some mammals and fish. In these instances, naturally occurring Clostridium botulinum and its spores are harmless. However, when the spores become vegetative cells and increase in population, they can produce a deadly amount of botulinum toxin, the neurotoxin that causes botulism. Wait, what?! Don’t worry, while some uninformed parties claim that patients are injected with trace amounts of botulism when they receive Botox, it’s a total myth. The two are not the same, and millions of patients receive Botox injections each year and see completely harmless, desirable results.
How is it Used?
In small concentrations, botulinum toxin has proven to be a very useful protein, which is where Botox comes in. For cosmetic purposes, Botox is administered to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and to make skin appear taught and plump. Medically, Botox is approved to treat more than 20 different conditions and is being tested to treat even more. Botox can help with muscle spasms, migraines, excessive sweating, limb spasticity following a stroke and more. It can also help you look years younger!
How Does it Work?
Essentially, Botox works by blocking some of the neurological signals sent to your facial muscles. For example, crow’s feet, the tiny lines around your eyes, are caused by the muscles around your eye contracting. Your nerves release a chemical messenger called acetylcholine that transmits from your nerve endings to your muscles telling them to contract, causing the wrinkles to appear. Botox blocks the release of acetylcholine, so the muscles are never sent the message to contract, leading to a reduction in wrinkles. It’s important to note that Botox will not eliminate wrinkles entirely. Our skin loses elasticity over time, causing it to wrinkle. Since Botox treats the underlying muscle, fine skin wrinkles can still persist. Plus, some wrinkles, like smile lines and forehead wrinkles, can become deep creases. Botox won’t eliminate these creases, but it can definitely soften them. It generally takes about 48 hours for Botox’s effects to start working, and they can last anywhere from three to five months.
Are There Risks?
As with any cosmetic or medical procedure, there are possible risks associated with Botox. While misinformation persists in some circles, in reality, Botox is considered very safe and the procedure is low-risk. One study found that adverse effects from Botox were more likely from a therapeutic application of Botox than a cosmetic one. This may be because of underlying conditions or because higher doses are needed for medical treatment. For cosmetic Botox applications, adverse side effects can include swelling or bruising at the injection site, headache, fever or chills. Before deciding on any cosmetic procedure, it’s best to discuss all options, possibilities and risks with your doctor. Be up front with any medical conditions you have or medicines you’re taking so your doctor can advise with the most information possible. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare and decide what’s right for you.
Ready to say “see you later!” to wrinkles? Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation. Our team of trusted medical professionals will answer any questions you have and help you to look and feel your very best.