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Botox is a registered trademarked drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium is known to cause botulism, a severe form of food poisoning -- but in minute quantities, it is useful in clearing minor wrinkles and fine lines by interrupting nerve impulses to muscles in the affected area.

Botox was initially used in the 1980’s to treat different kinds of muscle disorders like lazy eye, eye ticks and uncontrolled blinking. In was only around 1987, that Botox gained recognition and popularity for cosmetics treatments predominantly by dermatological surgeons. Today, botox injections are the fastest-growing cosmetic procedure in the industry, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).


[edit] Did You Know?

  • In 2004, over 2.8 million Botox Cosmetic procedures were performed in the US.
  • Botox Cosmetic treatment is the most popular of all physician-administered cosmetic procedures (surgical and non surgical combined) since its approval in 2002!!
  • Botox toxin is the single most toxic substance (on a weight basis) in the world.
  • Botox is 15,000 times more toxic by weight than VX (the dreaded chemical warfare agent) and 100,000 times more toxic than Sarin (the agent that AumShirinkyo released in the Tokyo subway).These toxins do not treat all wrinkles.
  • Dynamic wrinkles (those that become worse with facial expression and movement) are the ones that are most susceptible to treatment by Botox.
  • Doctors believe that botox can be used to treat alopecia areata, a common cause of baldness

[edit] How Does Botox Work?

The Structure of Botox
The Structure of Botox

When a person is injected with Botox in a particular place it blocks signals from the nerves to the muscles. This results in the inability of the injected muscle to contract, which causes the wrinkles to relax and soften. Some of the most popular areas where Botox is used to remove forehead lines, crow's feet or the lines around the eye and frown lines.

The procedure takes only a few minutes and no anesthesia is required. Botox is injected with a fine needle into specific muscles. It generally takes three to seven days to take full effect and the effects last from around four to six months. As the muscles begin to contract again, the natural lines and wrinkles begin to re-appear though they would look less severe with time.

[edit] Botox Uses

Over the years Botox has its uses as both Cosmetic use and as a medical and therapeutic tool

Cosmetic uses-- Botox injections are one of the most popular cosmetic treatments in the world. In small doses, Botox works by paralyzing the muscles of the face, which are used in frowning. When these muscles relax, the fine lines and wrinkles smooth out.

Therapeutic uses-- Botox is used to aid in several neurological conditions. It is most helpful in the treatment of cervical dystonia in adults. Cervical Dystonia (CD) is a condition that causes neck muscles to tighten or spasm involuntarily. It is also known as spasmodic torticollis. It results in abnormal head positions and neck pain and makes it hard for a person to accomplish even small daily tasks such as taking a bath and driving a car. Cervical Dystonia can also happen when one has been involved for years in doing repetitive movements. For example, it sometimes affects musicians, writers, artists, golfers, rowers, and tennis players.

Botox helps by stopping or greatly reducing the neck pain and by decreasing the severity of abnormal head position associated with CD. In a key clinical study, after receiving Botox treatment, patients had:

  • Improved head tilt.
  • Pain that was less intense and happened less often.
  • Improved ability to function in their daily activities

Botox is also used to treat Blepharospasm, or involuntary eyelid spasms and Strabismus, which is also called, crossed eyes. Studies have also shown that botox can work to eliminate migraine headaches, but the exact reason behind it remains unclear. One theory is that muscle tension and spasms are a cause of migraines and by eliminating the muscle tension with an injection of Botox it will also eliminate the cause of the headaches. But more studies are still being performed on this medication and as yet the FDA has not approved it for the treatment of headaches and migraines.

For severe underarm sweating -- Botox also greatly helps people suffering from severe underarm sweating leading to body odour. This is a medical condition known as severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis, which involves overactive sweat glands.When the case of underarm sweating cannot be managed by any other normal use, dermatologists recommend botox treatment. It helps control the condition by temporarily blocking the chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands. When the sweat glands don't receive chemical signals, the severe sweating stops.

[edit] Side Effects of Botox

Though known to be generally safe in minor doses, Botox could have some side effects.

  1. There can be temporary bruising in the injected area, which fades in a few days time.
  2. Sometimes a patient can get headaches or nausea that last anywhere from a day to two days.
  3. Localized pain, infection, inflammation, tenderness, swelling, redness, and/or bleeding can also be associated with the treatment.
  4. A small percentage of patients may also develop eyelid drooping, which goes away in three weeks. This happens because of the migration of the Botox. To prevent it, it is advised not to rub the treated area for 12 hours after injection.

[edit] Health Risks

There is a direct link between the huge growth in this sector and the rise in medical problems, complaints and negative media attention. The use of Botox as a fashion accessory has led to many unscrupulous practitioners and clinics that sometimes also organize Botox parties. Some practitioners buy this drug in bulk and arrange get-togethers for people receiving their treatments. It becomes a convenient method of providing Botox treatments more economically. Anesthesia is rarely needed, but sedatives and numbing agents may be available. But in lieu of proper steps and procedures, it can and rarely does result in a lot of health risks.

Reports have shown that there have also been rare reports of negative events involving the cardiovascular system including arrhythmia and myocardial infarction, some even resulting in death. Though the exact relationship of these events to the botulinum toxin injection has not been established, it is still being studied.

Skin rash including erythema multiforme and urticaria in a few cases have also been reported since Botox as a drug has been marketed

[edit] When Botox Should Not Be Used

Medical experts say that if people suffer from certain neuromuscular disorders such as ALS, myasthenia gravis, or Lambert-Eaton syndrome, they should stay away from Botox. Also people who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use Botox. Since Botox doesn't work for all wrinkles, a consultation with a doctor is recommended.

[edit] Things to be careful about

  • It is imperative that only a licensed doctor administers botox injections.
  • The exact amount of botox must be measured carefully. If too much toxin is injected or if it is injected into the wrong facial area, a person can end up with droopy eyelid muscles that could last for weeks.
  • Avoid alcohol at least one week prior to treatment.
  • Aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications should be stopped two weeks before treatment as well.
  • Ask questions and be informed about the benefits and risks involved in the procedure.
  • Remember to be upright for several hours following the procedure.

[edit] References

  • Botox Cosmetic -- Safety Information
  • MedlinePlus: Botox
  • Botox Cosmetic: A Look at Looking Good
  • How Botox Works

[edit] See Also