Everyone has heard of the cosmetic anti wrinkle treatment called Botox, whether from friends, TV or the internet. But there seems to be a lot of misinformation and misconceptions about this treatment that can create confusion amongst possible users. So, if you are interested in finding out exactly what Botox is and the truth behind the publicity, then you have come to the right place.
Botox was first introduced to the medical community in 1989 when the FDA approved its use for medical purposes such as for those who have uncontrolled muscle spasms. The cosmetic application of Botox was only approved in 2002 where it was made available on prescription in the US.
This cosmetic treatment has had tremendous success, especially because of its use by celebrities. The surge has been so high that in 2015, more than 4,267,038 injections of Botox were performed by medical practitioners in the US on both genders with men making up 10.3% of that number.
What Is Botox?
Botox is known for its cosmetic use but is also designed for two other primary purposes, severe underarm sweating and muscle spasm control. Botox is also called onabotulinumtoxinA and is made from the following:
- Botulinum toxin type A which is the active ingredient in Botox
- Human albumin which is a protein found in the human blood plasma
- Sodium chloride
What Is The FDA-Approved Use Of Botox?
When it comes to the FDA, the organization has only approved the use of Botox on one area only. This area is between the eyebrows which is where wrinkle occurs when you have expressions of being unhappy, tired or angry. The treatment is designed to help smoothen these wrinkles temporarily. Other uses of Botox are considered to be off-label and not recommended by the FDA for health and safety reasons.
What Is The Difference Between Botox And Dermal Fillers?
Botox uses the Botulinum toxin to relax the muscles that are used to contract muscles which result in wrinkles. Dermal fillers are injectable fillers which work to plump up the tissue under your skin so that the wrinkles are covered up, diminishing or disappearing altogether. Different brands are available online with each having different uses. If you are confused about whether you want to get Botox or dermal fillers, it’s suggested you seek a professional to get sound advice about your particular situation. However, the consensus is that Botox is used for the upper part of the face while dermal fillers can be used in the other areas.
How Does Botox Work?
Botox is designed to be easily injected into the muscles so that it can use the toxin to block the nerve impulses reaching the injected tissue. This allows the muscles that cause the wrinkle to relax and the frown lines to smoothen.
The way wrinkles work is that they are usually formed perpendicular to the muscle that is contracting. The area of injection is also beneath the line making it more effective. An example of how wrinkles work is when you raise your eyebrows. When you do this action, the vertical muscle in the forehead contracts, resulting in horizontal lines formed across your forehead.
The doctors who administer Botox usually take about 10 minutes with the benefits become visible in a few days. Dermal filler injections, however, are faster with almost instant results.
How Often Can You Get Botox Treatments?
This parameter is usually decided by how long your first treatment lasts. For most people, that 3-4 months but this can change due to a few variables like your age as those who are older will have shorter lasting results. Other factors include:
- Your diet
- Use other cosmetic treatments like microdermabrasion and facials
- If you smoke cigarettes
- How much time you spend in the sun
- How well you take care of your skin
There is also the question of how frequently you take Botox treatments and in what areas. Some people have built up a tolerance to the toxin in the injection which can cause diminished results as well as the possibility of causing an allergic reaction to Botox. Studies have shown that increased usage of the treatment correlates to an increased amount of risk for your antibodies to be formed against the toxin.
What Are The Side Effects Of Botox?
While those people who suffer side effects are few and far between, but they still happen, and it’s always advised to understand the potential side effects of any treatment before considering it.
Here is a list of the most shared and well-documented side effects of Botox: Bleeding, itching, redness, feeling faint, feeling dizzy, dry mouth, increased fatigue, pain in the injected area, numbness, wheezing, bruising, infection, neck pain, inflammation, severe allergic reaction, headache, red welts, asthma, swelling, droopy eyelids and rashes.
In regards to the numbness some people experience, this is due to those people not feeling the physical sensations of the affected area. This usually is because of their inability to move a muscle and not due to Botox as it is not an anesthetic.
Some have also reported having muscle spasms, but muscle spasms in the injected area are not possible because Botox is designed to counter muscle spasms as a muscle relaxant. Medical problems that use Botox as a treatment include temporomandibular joint disorder, hemifacial spasm, benign essential blepharospasm, fibromyalgia and cerebral palsy.
There is another issue regarding Botox and it’s side effects which, in some cases, cause the injected solution to end up spread slightly beyond the injected area to the surrounding tissues, causing unwanted muscle relaxation. A good example of this is if you had Botox injected on your forehead near your upper eyelids and if you experienced Botox being spread out of the injected area, you could experience your eyelids temporarily drooping.
Most doctors and practitioners who are authorized to perform Botox treatments are well aware of how Botox spreads and where the injection should be applied. However, if possible, it’s advised by experts that a concentrated dosage of Botox accurately injected is far more likely not to spread when compared to a diluted dosage.
To conclude, Botox is FDA-approved in only one place, so if you have some forehead wrinkles you want to get rid of, Botox might just be for you. But, if you are alright with doing off-label treatments, you have many options, but you are warned that the risks greatly increase when you get Botox injections for uncertified practitioners.