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You’ve heard about Botox from your sister, best friend, neighbor, and hairstylist. It seems like everyone (except you) has had it! But what exactly does it do anyway? Even when you ask someone who’s had it, they really can’t answer. Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about what Botox is and how it works.
Botox a Neurotoxin
Botox is an actual botulinum toxin which is a neurotoxin that prevents muscle contraction. However, it’s not the same botulinum toxin that is found in nature. It is carefully controlled, precisely measured, and highly purified through the manufacturing process. This makes it extremely safe and easy to use. We know that the quantity of Botox delivered to the muscle will produce the intended effect without any type of whole-body (systemic) effect.
Injections of Botox are helpful anywhere where repeated muscle contractions cause lines and creases to form on your skin. The most common place occurs between your eyebrows (your frown lines), around your eyes (your crow’s feet), and on your forehead.
Does Botox paralyze my muscles?
Yes, this is partly true. Once injected into your muscle, Botox binds to a special receptor on it. This disrupts the normal, chemical “flow” of information from your nervous system to your muscle. Because of this, the muscle can’t respond to the brain’s signal to contract and the muscle stays relaxed. However, this process is temporary. As the muscle regenerates, it makes new receptors that are open. You will start to see your treated muscle(s) contract once again gradually as this occurs. Usually, after about 3 to 4 months the muscle is back to normal again and contracts just as it did before your Botox.
How was Botox first discovered?
Botox has been used in traditional medicine for a long time! Much longer than for cosmetic purposes. Doctors who treated patients with debilitating muscle spasms around the eyes (blepharospasm) first noticed that their patients’ foreheads were extremely smooth. They realized it was the Botox that was “diffusing” a bit from around the eye area that was making this pleasing side effect happen. Botox Cosmetic was born and has taken off since!
Botox is still used today to treat all sorts of medical conditions in addition to its cosmetic uses. Painful muscle spasms of the neck, bladder spasms, migraines, and excessive underarm sweating are just a few of the “medical” uses for Botox.
Will Botox tighten my skin?
No. This is a common “myth” about Botox. Most patients find that the “smooth” or “relaxed” look that they get from having Botox looks “tight”. If someone looks overly tight or “pulled”, then they have likely had a combination of a surgical facelift and/or brow lift in conjunction with their Botox treatment. This is extremely common, and we find this is the source of the “tight skin” myth surrounding Botox treatment.
Is Botox dangerous?
When purchased from Allergan, the company that produces Botox, we know that the minuscule amounts that we inject for cosmetic purposes are extremely safe. There have never been any deaths associated with the use of Botox Cosmetic—making it a safer drug than aspirin!
How long will my Botox last?
As discussed above, the effects of Botox are totally temporary. You will see your muscles start to contract again completely after about 3 to 4 months following your injections. With this in mind, it might be a good idea to go ahead and schedule your follow-up for your next treatment early, so that you continue to see the benefits of your Botox that we are sure you’re going to love!