What You Need to Know About Botox

March 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

Many ageing individuals long for that youthful glow of a wrinkle-free complexion. Advertisements for Botox® promise just that, and the customers are flocking. People are even hosting “Botox parties,” where men and women gather to sip cocktails and banish wrinkles together.

Despite the compound’s popularity, it was only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cosmetic use in 2002. This is because Botox is the trade name for a Botulinum Toxin A, a neurotoxin. In this sense, B. Toxin A is related to Botulism. Botulism is a serious form of food poisoning caused by eating preserved food that has been contaminated with Clostridium botulinum bacterium. Botulism causes paralysis.

Botulinum toxins block muscle-signaling neurons. They latch onto nerve endings, causing the suspension of acetylcholine – the neurotransmitter in charge of activating muscle contractions. This occurs when botulinum toxins attack a series of proteins – VAMP, Syntaxin, and SNAP-25 – that are necessary for the release of acetylcholine.

B. Toxin A is also used to treat conditions that involve involuntary spasmic muscle contractions, such as Cervical Dystonia, Strabismus, and Blepharospasm. Once the botulinum is injected into the muscle(s), muscles contractions are reduced or eliminated. Although the results are not permanent, they occur within a few hours to a few days after treatment, and last from three to eight months.

This is exactly why Botox injections work to correct and prevent wrinkles; if an area is paralyzed it cannot wrinkle. Injecting the toxin directly into a certain muscle greatly reduces the risk of it spreading to other areas of the body, such as the chest, where breathing can be impaired, causing death. This is why the Botox injections are localized to the face. The results of this facial treatment are also temporary, so repeat treatments are required – hence the indefatigable market for Botox.

Researchers are still investigating other uses for Botox. It has already been used to treat Hyperhidrosis. Investigation suggests that it may also benefit Spasmodic Dysphonia, a neurological disorder that affects the larynx.

Despite all of the purported benefits of Botox, the FDA has issued warnings of possible health hazards, specifically in the case of the aforementioned “Botox parties.” The FDA cautions that Botox injecting is a medical procedure that must be performed in a safe and controlled medical environment. Injecting an individual with any substance in the presence of alcohol is never a good idea, but imbibing alcohol at the time of an injection is likely to increase the bruising at the site of the injection. Individuals also need to be in a medical setting in order to ensure they are prepared for the possible risks and side effects.

Works Cited

Neer, Katherine. (August 24, 2001) “Botox: What You Need to Know”. HowStuffWorks.com. <http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/beauty/skin-treatments/botox.htm&gt; February 12, 2012



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