Botulinum toxin, better known as Botox, is a drug that is used in the field of cosmetics as a treatment to help reduce wrinkles, as well as in the medical field as a treatment for a variety of disorders. The botulinum toxin is actually a neurotoxic protein that causes the disease botulism, but in small amounts it can be used as a treatment. There are two types, toxin A and toxin B, each one with a different use. Furthermore, there are a variety of brands of Botox, each of which delivers a different amount of the toxin. It is given to patients by way of an injection and should only be administered by an experienced health care professional.
What can the Botulinum toxin be used for?
Whether it is for cosmetic or medical reasons, many people are becoming familiar with the concept of Botox, but very few know what this medication can actually do. Probably the most well-known application is in the beauty industry, where it is used as an anti-ageing treatment. A very small amount of the toxin is injected into the patient’s face, where it temporarily weakens or paralyses certain facial muscles by blocking the nerves. Once this happens, the muscles are no longer able to contract, making them unable to cause wrinkles. The overall effect is a smoothing-out of facial wrinkles, thereby improving appearance. After a few months, the toxin begins to wear off, the muscles regain activity and the line-smoothing effects gradually start to diminish. At this point, the treatment will need to be repeated.
The muscle-paralysing effect of Botox also makes it a valuable medicine that can be used to treat a number of disorders characterised by overactive muscle movement and hyperactive nerves, such as Hyperhidrosis (excessive perspiration or sweating). The patient will get botulinum toxin injections in the underarm, palms, soles of the feet or scalp to help prevent sweating. The treatment can provide relief for an average of up to 6 months. Other medical applications include treatment for chronic migraines, an overactive bladder, uncontrollable blinking or to relieve severe neck and shoulder muscle spasms. In all, botulinum toxin is presently being used to treat over 20 different medical conditions and new applications for this medication are being investigated every day.
How do I know if Botox is right for me?
Injections with botulinum toxin have few side effects and are generally well tolerated. However, like any other medication, a comprehensive discussion with your healthcare provider is the first step in deciding whether it is the right choice for you.