Botox is a trade name for botulinum toxin A. In this way, Botox is related to botulism. Botulism is a form of food poisoning. Botulinum toxin A is one of the neurotoxins (a neurotoxin is a toxin that acts specifically on nervous tissue) produced by Clostridium botulinum.
The most serious symptom of botulism is paralysis, which in some cases has proven to be fatal. The botulinum toxins (there are seven — types are A through G) attach themselves to nerve endings. Once this happens, acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter responsible for triggering muscle contractions, cannot be released. A series of proteins are essential for the release of acetylcholine. Certain botulinum toxins attack these proteins. Basically, the botulinum toxins block the signals that would normally tell your muscles to contract. Say, for example, it attacks the muscles in your chest — this could have a profound impact on your breathing. When people die from botulism, this is often the cause — the respiratory muscles are paralyzed so it’s impossible to breathe.
At this point, you may be wondering why anyone would want to have a botulinum toxin injected into his or her body. The answer is simple: If an area of the body can’t move, it can’t wrinkle.
Botox injections are the fastest-growing cosmetic procedure in the industry, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). In 2001, more than 1.6 million people received injections, an increase of 46 percent over the previous year. More popular than breast enhancement surgery and a potential blockbuster, Botox is regarded by some as the ultimate fountain of youth.
A little history
Botox was first approved in 1989 to treat two eye muscle disorders–uncontrollable blinking (blepharospasm) and misaligned eyes (strabismus). In 2000, the toxin was approved to treat a neurological movement disorder that causes severe neck and shoulder contractions, known as cervical dystonia. As an unusual side effect of the eye disorder treatment, doctors observed that Botox softened the vertical frown (glabellar) lines between the eyebrows that tend to make people look tired, angry or displeased. But until this improvement was actually demonstrated in clinical studies, Allergan Inc., of Irvine, Calif., was prohibited from making this claim for the product.
By April 2002, the FDA was satisfied by its review of studies indicating that Botox reduced the severity of frown lines for up to 120 days. The agency then granted approval to use the drug for this condition.
How is Botox applied?
Botox is injected with a very tiny needle. After Botox injection, the muscles will relax and the skin will smooth out over about 5 days. The effect usually lasts about six months, and can be repeated when needed.
There are very few side effects to this procedure. While allergy to any medicine is possible, it is rare with Botox. While a small amount of brow or lid droop is possible, it is unusual and can usually be avoided by not treating the area just above the outer portion of the brow. If it does happen, it goes away by itself.
Originally used for treating nervous twitch of the eyelid muscles, it was discovered that the crow’s feet, frown lines and forehead creases can be flattened dramatically. Neck Bands can sometimes be helped also.
Botox is one of the most popular cosmetic mini-treatments today. This procedure can be done on a lunch break and requires no anesthesia or recovery.