Botox is used in a wide variety of medical and cosmetic procedures. It is often used as a cosmetic treatment to reduce fine lines and wrinkles on the face, but it is also used to treat medical conditions such as excessive sweating, migraines, muscular disorders and some bladder or bowel problems.
What Is Botox?
Botox is a drug made from a neurotoxin, a toxin which acts on the nerves. The neurotoxin is called botulinum toxin and is actually one of the most dangerous substances that we know. Because the neurotoxin itself is highly poisonous, Botox only contains tiny amounts of the substance. Although it is so toxic, botulinum toxin is actually a naturally occurring substance. It’s produced by a kind of bacteria called clostridium botulinum which is found in its inactive form in the natural environment in forests, rivers, soils and soil sediments, and even in the intestinal tracts of some animals. As long as it’s inactive, it’s fairly harmless.
What Does It Do?
The drug is usually administered by injecting it into the affected site, and it works by temporarily paralysing the muscles near the injection site. The Botox prevents muscles from contracting. It acts on the nerves, preventing them from sending signals to the muscles which tell the muscles to contract. Without these chemical signals, the muscles are effectively paralysed even though they are totally undamaged by the injections. Because many wrinkles – or frown lines – are caused by the small muscles in the face contracting involuntarily, the Botox injections effectively remove the lines. The frown lines between the eyebrows and “crows’ feet”, or fine wrinkles around the eyes are the most common areas to be treated.
How Is It Injected?
Botox injections consist of miniscule amounts of the toxin diluted in saline. This is injected directly into neuromuscular tissue. It then takes 24 – 72 hours for the effect to become apparent, but in some case it takes five days for the Botox to fully take effect.
What Are The Side Effects?
Botox is generally well tolerated with few side effects, although you should not use it if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have suffered an allergic reaction to a Botox injection before. Like all medicines, however, it can cause side effects. These can include mild pain at the injection site, headache, nausea, or a feeling of malaise. Because it causes mild, local muscular paralysis, other side effect can include temporarily drooping eyelids or other nearby muscles. Other side effects which are quite rare include rashes, dry mouth, wheezing or swelling. Your medical practitioner will give you a list of possible side effects, and if they concern you, you should seek medical help straight away.
Botox treatments are non-surgical and highly popular. Although it is technically a toxin, the miniscule doses used by cosmetic and medical practitioners have real benefit to their patients.