It might have made its name through celebrity use, but Botox is now an affordable treatment accessible to many. Unlike some cosmetic medical treatments, Botox is suitable for most people who have wrinkles, particularly those who want to fight the signs of natural aging. However Botox also possesses therapeutic properties, with a recent study finding that it can act as an antidepressant.
The idea of Botox injections may sound very scientific, but it is in fact derived from a naturally occurring protein. The name comes from the protein known as Botulinum Toxin. Unlike some treatments that work by plumping up the skin or filling in lines, Botox injections work by relaxing tight facial muscles, effectively helping the face to stop frowning.
In fact Botox has a long and interesting history. It was a doctor, Justinus Kerner, who in 1822 first conceived of a possible therapeutic use of Botulinum Toxin and coined the name botulism (from the Latin word for a sausage). He described it as a “sausage poison” because the bacterium that produces the toxin often caused poisoning by growing in improperly handled meat products. Then in the late 1960s, doctors in San Francisco developed a standardized Botulinum Toxin preparation for therapeutic purposes. The cosmetic effect of the toxin on wrinkles was originally documented by Dr Richard Clark, a plastic surgeon from Sacramento, California, publishing his results in 1989, and from there began its history of growing general use in aesthetic medicine.
The global market for Botox, which is already enormous, is forecast to reach US$2.9 billion by 2018. Indeed by this time the entire global market for facial aesthetics is forecast to reach US$4.7 billion, of which Botox will command the major share.
But what aesthetic concerns does Botox address and how does it actually work? These questions are answered by Dr Allen Rezai, internationally renowned Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon and specialist in both surgical and non-surgical facial treatments, who explains that “Botox can temporarily reduce or eliminate frown lines, forehead creases, crows feet near the eyes and thick bands in the neck. It works by blocking the nerve impulses, temporarily paralyzing the muscles that cause wrinkles whilst giving the skin a smoother, more refreshed and youthful appearance. It is suitable for both women and men who are not yet ready for forehead or brow lifts or other cosmetic and plastic surgeries to improve their appearance and who want a simple and fast procedure to eliminate wrinkles with little downtime and recovery period. An advantage of Botox treatment is that untreated areas of the face aren’t affected, so you can still smile and frown, but the skin on the treated areas won’t wrinkle as much as usual. Interestingly, a lesser-known use of Botox is in helping people who suffer from excessive sweating. Yet another more recent use is in alleviating the symptoms of migraine.”
Dr Rezai goes on to reveal that “In fact a recent study by researchers at the University of Southwest Texas, Austin, announced just this month in the Dermatology Times of April 1st, 2014, finds botulinum toxin injections also to possess significant longer-term anti-depressive properties which last beyond the cosmetic effects. Whether this is due to psychological effects through improved mood and self-esteem, for biological reasons, or a combination of both is not yet fully proven, however what is certain is that Botox is a treatment possessing a variety of both medical and cosmetic uses, with a list of useful properties constantly increasing.”
As to how Botox is employed for cosmetic purposes, Dr Rezai explains that “a small amount of Botox is injected with a very fine needle into the area being treated. Because the needle is so fine and only a small amount of liquid is used, the pain associated with the injections is minimal. No sedation or local anaesthetic is needed and patients can drive immediately following the treatment. There might be slight temporary redness and bruising of the skin at the sites of the injections. These are minor and of short duration, but otherwise, there will be no visible signs of the treatment.”
Botox is a temporary treatment the effects of which wear off naturally over time. Dr Rezai explains that “following treatment, visible results of Botox are usually seen within four to seven days, however it can take up to two weeks to see the full result. Depending on a person’s lifestyle and how their muscles react to the treatment, the effects of Botox may last from three to six months and the treatment should not be repeated more than two to three times per year.
“There are however a very small number of patients, about 2%, who either have pre-existing antibodies to Botox or who develop antibodies to Botox following frequent treatments, which render it ineffective. Unfortunately there is no way of identifying this small group of people beforehand. In such cases a related product called Dysport can often be used successfully as an alternative.”
With regard to risks and side-effects associated with Botox treatment, Dr Rezai explains that “provided the treatment is carried out by a suitably qualified and experienced practitioner, complications related to Botox are relatively rare. In some cases it can cause a temporary weakness of nearby muscles or drooping of an eyelid. The risk of any side effects depends on the muscles injected. However because Botox is completely reversible, any side effects related to excessive weakness will be temporary, lasting only days or weeks. Botox is not suitable for use in those with certain muscular disorders, nor for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.”
For more details concerning Botox treatment and other Facial Rejuvenation procedures performed by Elite Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Group, reference should be made to their website at https://elitecosmeticsurgery.ae