In a society focused on beauty, it’s common to get discouraged when the signs of aging begin to show — especially when they are in the form of lines and wrinkles on the face. When unsightly brow lines and crow’s feet dampen self-perception, many people turn to Botox®.
Botox® injections have been immensely popular since their inception in the 1990’s largely due to their ease of administration, effectiveness and reasonable price tag. So what is all the hub-bub and is it really the fountain of youth that so many people claim? Before you try Botox® for yourself, you might want to understand the science behind the needle.
How Does Botox Work
Botox®, or Botulinum toxin A, is a toxin excreted by the bacteria Clostridium Botulinum. When used in small, concentrated doses, the results are quite impressive, offering restored youth to many happy patients.
Botox® inhibits the release of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular synapse. In doing so, it essentially paralysis small muscles, thus relaxing the face and smoothing lines.
The effects of the Botox® injection are transitory. This means that targeted muscles will regain total movement in time — usually between six months and one year — and later injections will likely be recommended, albeit usually at lower doses. Because only small amounts are required to be effective, there is little risk involved.
Why Is Botox® Effective
Botox® can be targeted toward specific muscles without harming surrounding tissue. After its discovery in the 1950s, it was later used to treat illnesses such as Dystonia (a disorder characterized by involuntary sustained muscle contractions resulting in twisting and repetitive movements) since the 1970’s. More recently it has been used as a sight-specific treatment for facial lines.
When used cosmetically, Botox® injections inhibit certain over-emphasized facial expressions such as joy or anger. When these facial expressions have been used multiple times throughout many years, these expressions create what is called hyperfunctional lines — lines that must be remedied.
Botox® injections target the muscles that create these lines. By blocking the muscle’s ability to produce acetylcholine, the muscles cannot move thus causing these lines to soften. Because the initial injection relaxes these muscles, future dosages can be smaller and still as effective.
Additional Benefits of Botox®
The benefits of Botox® go well beyond the smoothing of facial lines and the treatment of illnesses like Dystonia, however. Newest applications for the Botox® injection also include treatment for chronic migraine headaches. Botox® is also FDA approved for:
• Eyelid spasms
• Severe underarm sweating
• Muscle stiffness in elbows, wrists and fingers
At six months’ time, trials showed that people suffering from chronic migraines experienced eight fewer migraines on average each month. Within the first year of treatment, Botox® injections were able to reduce migraines by 50 percent among test subjects.
While the reason for this added benefit of Botox® is still unknown, it could be related to the drug’s ability to inhibit muscular tension that causes migraines. As more people turn to Botox® for migraine relief, however, researchers hope to find more in-depth answers to this question.
Bottom line is that Botox® is a popular cosmetic procedure to reduce facial lines and wrinkles, but its application goes far beyond that. Because of the toxin’s ability to paralyze certain muscle groups without harming others, it has proven to be beneficial to a number of patients suffering from a number of conditions. Whether you suffer from migraines, muscle spasms or just want to rejuvenate your appearance, Botox® might be just the cure you’re looking for.