Written by: Shani Fowler
In a world that seems to endorse eternal youth, Botox has become quite the ‘must have’ procedure for many of those wishing to keep their skin smooth and wrinkle free. However, there have been some horror stories and also some rather off-putting pictures of celebs gazing at us from the red carpet sporting a rather unrelenting “surprised” look! But what are the facts? What should we know before we allow someone to lie us down on a couch and inject us with this potion to help keep the years at bay?
What is Botox?
Botox is a drug. It is made from clostridium botulinum, called botulinum toxin and like Brad and Angelina became lovingly known as Brangelina – botulinum toxin gives a birth to Botox – we’d expect no less! Though it is sold commercially under other names.
Clostridium botulinum organism and its spores can be found worldwide in forests, soils, lake sediments etc. and can be found in the intestine of mammals and fish. These bacteria are relatively harmless in nature but issues occur when the spores transform into vegetive or actively growing cells where they overpopulate and then die producing a deadly neurotoxin that causes botulism. The neurotoxins target the nervous system and disrupt the effective communication process of neurons.
How does Botox work?
Botox is injected into humans in extremely small concentrations. It works by temporarily stopping the signals from the nerve cells reaching the muscle; this effectively leaves the muscle without instruction and thereby puts the injected muscle into a temporary state of paralysis. When this is applied to facial muscles, it prevents the skin creasing as we smile or frowning on the forehead etc.
Despite its high demand, the dangers of botulinum toxin shouldn’t be underestimated – it is one of the most poisonous substances known to man. It is estimated that a single gram of it could kill up to one million people and two kilos could wipe out every human on earth. In high levels Botox can result in life threatening illnesses and if left untreated could lead to respiratory failure and even death – managing the dosage is obviously essential.
What are its uses?
As well as being used for cosmetic procedures such as crow’s feet or frown lines, Botox is legitimately used to treat a variety of medical conditions such as eye squints, excessive sweating, overactive bladder and post-stroke upper limb spasticity to name a few, with more uses for Botox being regularly found.
How is procedure performed?
Botox is diluted in a saline solution and administered by direct injection into the neuromuscular tissue and usually takes between 24 and 72 hours to become effective. In some cases (although rarer) it may take up to five days for it to be fully effective. It is recommended that Botox injections are carried out by an appropriately trained doctor, dentist or nurse and that it should be carried out in a clinical environment. It is advised that Botox is not administered by beauty therapists as they can lack the necessary clinical background.
It is important to find a reputable practitioner. However, providers of non-surgical cosmetic treatments don’t have to be registered with the Care Quality Commission so beware! Look for doctors, dentists and registered nurses who are listed on the TYCT register as this register is backed by the Department of Health.
Are risks or side effects?
Firstly the procedure should not be performed on pregnant or lactating women, or anyone who has previously displayed an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients. As with most things in life there can be risks and side effects and Botox can have these too, though they are few, uncommon, mostly mild and transient. Among others these side effects include, headaches, transient numbness, malaise, mild nausea, drooping eyelids, temporary paralysis of nearby muscle and mild nausea.
In essence, whilst Botox may not be for everyone and it can be very expensive to maintain, it is certainly very popular as a cosmetic procedure and shows no signs of slowing down. The best rules have to be:
- always take care of who administers the Botox
- ensure the environment is clinical
- be aware of any potential side effects
This way you could remain wrinkle free for as long as your cash will allow. But it should be mentioned it is okay to have a few wrinkles here and there, wrinkles can be our life stories our little battle scars and having an expressive face, one that actually moves as we speak does lend more warmth to our species as a whole!