Despite its success as an anti-wrinkle treatment, there is still a lot of confusion about what Botox* is, how it works, what it can do for you and how safe it really is.
Starting with its scientific name – Botulinum toxin –the word ‘toxin’ can be misleading when it is in fact a naturally occurring protein which temporarily blocks the nerve impulses that trigger muscle contraction. And by relaxing the muscles in the face, Botox softens the lines and wrinkles caused by a number of facial expressions, mainly:
• The crow’s feet which appear when smiling;
• The lines between the eyebrows when frowning;
• The horizontal forehead lines when raising our eyebrows
• The ‘bunny’ lines, caused by ‘scrunching’ your nose
But this does not mean that you have to be frozen or lose all the expression in your face, so important for interacting in society, with friends, family or at work. The art of treatments with Botox is to strike the right balance between reducing the lines while keeping some movement and expression – what is often described as the ‘natural look’.
By treating specific muscles, Botox can also create a lateral brow lift when the eyebrows are a bit flat or simply to give a ‘fresher’ look. It can also be used, sometimes in association with dermal fillers, to correct smoker’s lines and uplift ‘sad’ corners of the mouth’ or to improve a dimply chin.
Botox is not a new product and its excellent safety record has been documented over more than 40 years in indications such as migraine, back pain, squinting, excessive sweating etc. The doses used for cosmetic treatments are minimal and the treatment is almost painless, with most patients describing the injections as a ‘pinprick sensation’. The treatment takes just a few minutes, many women have their treatment during their lunch break and go straight back to work.
(*) Botox is a registered trademark of Allergan