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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Beauty of Botox

Photo by Charles Williams

Last year, 5.6 million people received Botox injections. If you don’t know a Botox user personally, odds are you have heard of a few – Simon Cowell, Jenny McCarthy, David Hasselhoff and Vanessa Williams have all had Botox treatments for a variety of reasons.

But what is Botox? Although it’s often the butt of bad jokes in movies, Botox is pretty revolutionary, and it might even work for you. Let’s start by addressing a few common questions, misconceptions and recommendations. 

If you have any questions not included here, leave them in the comments, and I’ll answer them there.

Where did it come from?

Botox is derived from Botulinum toxin. The word may sound familiar if you’ve heard of botulism, a type of food poisoning. Although it can be toxic in very high doses, 10 years ago, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved the patented small dose, now known as Botox, to treat a variety of cosmetic issues.

If you’re wondering how the idea to use the product to treat wrinkles came about, it was totally by accident! In the late 1980s, it was being used as a treatment for facial muscle spasms, and patients began commenting on the benefits to wrinkles and other cosmetic issues. That led to more research and, eventually, FDA approval in 2002.

What does it do?

Botox can be used to treat a variety of minor cosmetic issues. These include:
  • Filling in wrinkles, like crow’s feet, to make them less visible
  • Injections under the arms can help control heavy sweating.
  • Erasing frown lines around the mouth or wrinkles on the forehead
  • Correct crossed eyes

The effects of Botox typically last up to four months. Regular injections are safe, and the effect is the same with each injection. There is no “wear” or “getting used to” the effects of Botox.

Allergan, Inc., the manufacturer of Botox, recently received FDA approval to use Botox to treat incontinence and chronic migraines. They are exploring its use for other conditions, as well.

How does it work?

Quite simply, Botox blocks signals from the nerves to the muscles, essentially “deadening” them and keeping the muscles from contracting. This causes the muscles to relax and soften, lessening or even eliminating visible signs of wrinkles.

Is it safe?

Yes! Although technically derived from a neurotoxin, Botox is 100 percent safe. In small doses, the injections are very well-received and highly effective for cosmetic issues. There are no known long-term safety risks associated with Botox injections.

Although the injection itself is safe, it is possible to experience a bad outcome. Be very selective when choosing the physician who will administer your shots. Always choose a licensed dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Risks associated with poorly performed Botox injections are primarily cosmetic, and include shiny skin, visible ripples or the “frozen” look often portrayed in movies.

Should I get Botox?

It’s important to note that Botox is a brand name. There are now two competing products on the market, as well – Dysport and Xeomin. At Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Associates, we recommend a certain brand to patients based on a few factors: how often the patient plans to get injections, the specific area to be treated and the patient’s medical history or concerns.

Oftentimes, Botox is used as an alternative to more invasive or expensive procedures.

If you have a question about pursuing a Botox procedure, call us at 901-759-2322. 


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