Most people would do everything to turn back the ravages of time, and many are able to tap their own personal Utopia simply by having a series of injections. You’ve probably heard of the prescription medicine that celebrities and other people turn to when they want to reverse the signs of aging. The procedure is relatively painless, and most patients are able to see its effects within 24 hours. We’re referring to Botox, a product that is known to smoothen the skin, reduce wrinkles, and other facial lines that would otherwise contribute to a haggard, aged complexion.
Here’s everything you need to know about it.
Medical News Today defines Botox as “a drug made from a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum called botulinum toxin. It is used medically to treat certain muscular conditions and cosmetically remove wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing muscles.” It has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in the late 1980s after it was determined that Botox can stop conditions such as strabismus and blepharospasm. Today, it is being used by doctors to treat facial creases and wrinkles, as well as a host of other diseases.
It is the most popular form of cosmetic surgery treatment, with over six million treatments administered annually. Likewise, it is the usual top-of-mind solution when people want to get rid of their facial lines.
How it Works
It is known fact in the medical community that large doses of the botulinum toxin can prove fatal to patients. When performed by a seasoned professional however, the toxin seldom does more harm than good. In fact, it is injected into the skin in the tiniest amounts, which is just enough to create the desired effect.
It effectively soothes away wrinkles, frown lines, and glabellar lines, among other conditions, by temporarily paralyzing the muscles to achieve the desired effect. The medicine blocks the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, from reaching the muscles. When this happens, the muscles are unable to contract. When the muscle is unable to contract, it is therefore more relaxed and loosened, which in turn leads to a smoother facial expression.
However, the effects of Botox are temporary. The muscles regain their mobility in four to six months. For this reason, most people who use Botox would have to get another treatment before their current one lapses to ensure that they are keeping their facial lines at bay.
Once injected, the serum can take effect within 24-72 hours, although in rare cases it can reach up five days.
Botox is directly injected into the face in small amounts. It is typically an outpatient procedure and patients can leave the clinic after getting injected. In cases when they may be susceptible to side effects such as numbing and nausea, it is advisable that they bring someone with them to drive them home.
Patients are also advised to stop taking aspirin at least two weeks before the treatment to avoid instances of bruising. Likewise, it is advisable that patients be very transparent with their physicians, particularly about their pre-existing nerve conditions (such as Lou Gehrig’s disease or Lambert-Eaton syndrome). Non-disclosure of these conditions can lead to severe side effects of the injection. Botox does not remove all wrinkles in its entirety, so patients would still have to talk to their physicians about long-term skin care that would improve their skin once and for all.
Also, inform your physician about all the medicines you are taking. Most people would omit vitamins and herbal medicine from this list, but ensure that you mention everything that you are taking as there can be drugs and products that can trigger serious side effects when combined with Botox. Likewise, do not start a new medication unless you have thoroughly informed your physician that you have had a Botox treatment in the past.
Botox is primarily used to smoothen the skin by reducing the appearance of wrinkles and other fine lines. However, it has been approved as treatment for a host of diseases and conditions, such as migraines, cervical dystonia, leaky bladders, and excessive sweating. It is also used to treat severe neck and shoulder muscle spasms, crossed eyes, overactive bladder, crow’sfeet, hemifacial spasm, and post-stroke upper limb spasticity.
Aside from these, Botox is also used by other physicians to address cerebral palsy, larygngeal dystonia, allergic rhinitis, and achalasia. However these uses are “off-label,” meaning to say that the FDA hasn’t recognized Botox’s efficacy in treating these conditions.
While Botox injections are generally well tolerated by the skin and there are few, if any, cases of side effects deriving from the injections, there are instances when individuals should steer away from the medication.
For instance, having a known allergy to any of the ingredients is already a telltale sign on its own. Likewise, pregnant or lactating women should not get Botox treatments. Meanwhile, other people who have already had the treatment may develop antibodies for it, which thereby renders the subsequent treatments as ineffective.
Meanwhile, it sometimes can have side effects, depending on the patient’s reaction to the medicine. Others report having mild pain at the injection site, while others complain of numbness. Headache, mild nausea, temporary paralysis of other musculature, and temporary upper lid or brow drooping are among the common side effects of Botox. It can also cause weakness of the lower eyelid, neck weakness, and gallbladder dysfunction.
In some cases, it can cause bleeding, blurred vision, dry mouth, rashes, and wheezing.
However, it is worth pointing out that the medical literature regarding the side effects of Botox are inconclusive. At most, it would depend upon the patient’s response to the treatment, and most patients are able to take advantage of Botox’s full effects without any side effects.
When to call a doctor
Immediately contact a physician if you experience difficulty in swallowing, breathing, or speaking, particularly if you have a pre-existing condition you have neglected to tell your doctor. Likewise, the toxin may spread to other parts of the body, and may cause the symptoms mentioned above. In cases when patients experience these problems, they should immediately inform their physician and seek medical help.
Generally, Botox is a safe treatment in the hands of a licensed professional. For this reason, ensure that you are going to the right person to avoid experiencing its side effects.