Botulinum toxin, popularly known by the name BOTOX is an exogenous neurotoxin which functions by altering neurological mechanisms. It is widely used for medical as well as cosmetic purposes. Botox is a common ingredient of facial aesthetics treatment and is best known for its anti-wrinkle properties. It can serve a bounty of other cosmetic purposes such as reducing excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), alleviating eyelid spasms, muscle stiffness, frown lines and crossed eyes. The mechanism of action it follows is by blocking neuromuscular junctions and paralysing strained muscles which result in the smoothening of the overlying skin resulting in the deduction of wrinkles and other cosmetic effects.
The effects, however, are not permanent and retreatment is required every 4-6 months.
You should consult a professional facial aesthetics practitioner when it comes to seeking cosmetic treatments.
What is Botox, and how is it obtained?
Botulinum toxin is derived from a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum and some other species related to it. There are seven known varieties of Botulinum toxin out of which type A and B are deployed for commercial purposes.
Botulinum toxin is a poisonous substance and toxicity can result in Botulism which leads to life-threatening conditions. But when used in appropriate dosage, it is safe and is also approved for cosmetic purposes. Hence, it is essential to use it wisely and get treatment only from professionals.
Some of the common commercial brands of Botulinum toxin are:
- Botox – The chemical agent used in Botox is onabotulinum toxin A. It enhances the appearance of deep lines, wrinkles and is used for a myriad of other cosmetic and medical purposes. Botox is actually a brand name which has become a prototype of botulinum toxin. It is available in powder as solution form and is injected with the help of micro injections.
- Dysport – The agent in Dysport is abobotulinum toxin A. The function served is the same as that of Botox; however, some studies have hypothesised that Dysport is faster acting as compared to other botulinum toxins.
- Jeuveau – It is based on prabotulinum toxin A.
- Myobloc – Myobloc uses rimabotulinum toxin B. It should be cautiously used as it may soon dissipate from the area of injection and cause symptoms of Botulism.
What is the mechanism of action of Botox?
Botox, which is an exogenous neurotoxin protein, acts by preventing the release of a neurotransmitter Acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is responsible for nerve signalling to the muscles. Inhibition of the release of Acetylcholine leads to neuromuscular junction blockade. When nerves signals are not able to reach the muscle, it paralyses and relaxes them, thereby producing a smoothing effect on the overlying skin. This removes all the manifestations of strained skin such as fine lines, wrinkles, muscle spasms, eyelid twitching, and all other problems related to muscle hyperactivity.
A very minute quantity of Botox is sufficient to produce the desired results. The toxin doesn’t produce immediate effects. You will start noticing changes after 3-5 days of treatment, and the full-fledged effect with smooth and wrinkle-free skin will be visible after 7-10 days.
How long do the effects of Botox last?
Unfortunately, Botox is not a permanent treatment for your aesthetic issues. It only causes temporary paralysis of muscle, and hence the effects are reversed after 3-4 months.
It also depends on the individual to some extent, where results may even last for 4-6 months. A common observation is that the effect of the first treatment fades away sooner, but after the second treatment, the effects last longer as compared to the first. This is because your body takes some time to adapt to any foreign agent being introduced in it.
What are the risks and side effects of Botox?
Botox is a safe and prudent cosmetic treatment. There are no significant adverse effects associated with it. A few side effects may be present due to the injection prick such as pain, redness, itching, inflammation, or bruising.
If a professional practitioner is consulted, the probability of side effects is even lesser.
Sometimes, if an inadequate dose is used, the toxin may spread into the body and cause adverse effects like extensive muscle weakness, difficulty in breathing and speaking, bladder dysfunction, excessive tearing. All these symptoms indicate the toxicity of Botox.
In such a condition, contact your doctor immediately.
What should be your expectations?
Before the procedure: Some patients are apprehensive about the system, and even though the process doesn’t cause much discomfort, they prefer the area to be numbed. The doctor administers appropriate anaesthetic, usually topical anaesthesia.
During the procedure: The toxin is injected in the wrinkled areas with the help of microneedles. The amount of toxin that will be administered depends on how extensive your wrinkles are.
After the procedure: You may feel mild pain, redness, itching in the treated area, which usually resolves by itself and doesn’t require any intervention. The effect of treatment will start appearing after 3-5 days. These effects will last for 3-4 months, and you will require retreatment after that.
Botox injections which act by temporarily paralyze your muscles are sad and effective cosmetic treatment injections. You must take care always to consult a professional if you need Botox treatment.