Over 7 million Botox treatments are administered every year, making it the most common cosmetic procedure. The botulinum toxin first emerged in a medical context when it was used to treat strabismus (crossed eyes) in the 1970s. Since then, a wide variety of uses have been discovered, ranging from migraine relief to incontinence therapy. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Botox is that it’s actually a toxic chemical—yet it’s still a hugely popular and safe cosmetic treatment. So, how does Botox work?
An Overview of Botox
Botox (botulinum toxin) is classified as a neurotoxin. It’s derived from the clostridium botulinum bacterium, which is the organism that causes botulism. As a neurotoxin, it interrupts the communication between nerves and muscles, which results in the temporary paralysis of the muscle. This paralytic effect is the root of Botox’s usefulness in medical/cosmetic applications. While Botox is most famous for its ability to reduce facial wrinkles, it’s actually used to treat many other medical conditions as well. For example, conditions involving hyperactive muscles (spasms, overactive bladder, etc.) can be effectively treated with the botulinum toxin.
Cosmetic Botox: What’s Actually Happening?
When Botox is used to reduce facial wrinkles, very small amounts of the chemical are injected into strategic locations on the patient’s face. Typically, nerve cells release a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which “communicates” with the muscle cells they’re attached to. The acetylcholine binds to receptors on the muscle cell, causing it to contract. When Botox is injected into the area, it prevents the acetylcholine from being released, which in turn causes the muscle to stop contracting. The effect of the Botox is localized, meaning that it remains at the original injection site without spreading to other parts of the body. So, when the specific facial muscle that’s responsible for certain wrinkles stops contracting, those wrinkles become “relaxed” and diminish in appearance.
The Botox Injection Procedure
Botox injection is a simple and relatively painless procedure. The discomfort is usually minimal, but you can opt to numb the area using ice or a topical anesthetic. Once you’re ready, the doctor will use a very thin needle to inject a small amount of the Botox chemical into targeted areas of your face. The total number of injections will vary depending on your situation, but the process is quick and easy. After the procedure you can return to your daily activities immediately, but you should avoid rubbing your face for 24 hours. The effects of the Botox will be noticeable within 1-3 days, and should last for at least 3-6 months. When the effects wear off, you can return to your doctor for a follow-up treatment.
If you have any additional questions, or are interested in a Botox treatment, we can help! At Visage Cosmetic Clinic, we’re experts in Botox. We guarantee you’ll be highly satisfied with your experience at our Winnipeg office. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!