Unlocking the Mystery Behind Botox®
Wrinkles! They’re a reality of aging that many of us confront when we take a long, close look at our faces in the mirror over our bathroom sink. Often, this picture of reality causes us to sigh, shake our heads, and think of younger days when the only wrinkles we had to worry about were those we had to iron out of our party dress before we headed out for a night on the town. Oh, how easy it would be if we could simply iron out our wrinkles today!
Take heart! There are solutions to those fine lines and wrinkles you see on your face and many of them are readily accessible and quite painless. But many candidates for wrinkle treatments are a little weary of taking advantage of these techniques because they simply don’t understand how they work.
The history of Botox®
Let’s take Botox® for example. Most people still equate Botox®– or botulinum toxin – with botulism – food poisoning. That connection doesn’t make the thought of injecting this solution into your facial wrinkles very appealing, does it? But with a little knowledge, you might feel better about giving it a try.
It’s true that the first strains of botulinum toxin were discovered by a German scientist in the 1820s while he was investigating the reason people got sick (and often died) from eating spoiled sausages. True story! Nearly three-quarters of a century later, another scientist would further study botulinum toxin for similar reasons, identifying seven strains, of which four were harmful to humans.
Bet you can guess where this is heading! By the 1950s, researchers had discovered that by using one of the safe forms – named botulinum toxin type A – they could inject that strain into hyperactive muscles to relax them.
That was one of the first medical uses. That caught the attention of many scientists and doctors, and throughout the next few decades more experiments were performed to figure out how we could harness the positive properties of botulinum toxin.
By the 1980s, many drug agencies around the world approved botulinum toxin for use in humans, treating a number of disorders including facial and vocal spasms. It was then that botulinum toxin received the shorter, easier-to-pronounce name – Botox.
But how does it work?
As Botox® continued to be used for a variety of issues, some doctors began noticing their patients enjoyed a reduction in frown lines during use. To simplify it, the word got out and the desire for Botox injections spiked until there was actually a Botox shortage in the U.S. in 1997!
Today, it’s the number one non-surgical cosmetic treatment in many countries, largely because it is both safe and effective and patients experience relatively few – if any – side effects.
Technically speaking, Botox® works by reducing or blocking the release of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that is needed in order for the muscles to contract. In other words, it relaxes the muscles into which it is injected so that they cannot pull the overlying skin into creases, which is how wrinkles are formed on your face.
In other words, when the affected muscle doesn’t get the signal to contract, you don’t get wrinkles.
Botox® is generally used to address wrinkles on the forehead, in the glabellar region between the eyes (where you often develop two creases that look like the number “11”), or for crow’s feet around the eyes.
The procedure is often touted as “lunchtime” wrinkle treatments, because patients who elect to try Botox® injections can accomplish the treatment during their lunch break and still have time to eat and return to work. There’s no interruption of normal activity. It’s that easy!
Like all cosmetic treatments, Botox is not for everyone.
Talk to me about Botox injections and whether they can help reduce your wrinkles and give you a more youthful, vibrant look.