Updated: Sep 1, 2021
Botox is classified as a neurotoxin and is often referred as the "miracle poison.” The neurotoxin "botox" is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. These substances target the nervous system, disrupting the nerve signaling processes that stimulate muscle contraction. This is how the drug causes temporary muscle paralysis. In order for any muscle to contract, the nerves release a chemical messenger called acetylcholine at the junction where nerve endings meet muscle cells. Acetylcholine attaches to receptors on the muscle cells and causes the cells to contract, or shorten.
Botox injections prevent the release of acetylcholine, which stops the muscle cells from contracting. In this way, the toxin helps the muscles to become less stiff.
The primary use of Botox is reducing the appearance of facial wrinkles.
The effects are temporary, lasting 3-4 months, depending on the type of treatment.
People often request the injections in the following areas of the face:
wrinkles between the eyebrows, called frown lines, glabellar lines, or elevens
wrinkles around the eyes, known as crow’s feet
horizontal creases in the forehead
lines at the corners of the mouth
“cobblestone” skin on the chin
However, the FDA have only approved the injections for use around the eyes and on the forehead.
Healthcare professionals also use Botox to treat a variety of medical conditions, most of which affect the neuromuscular system.
The FDA have approved Botox for the following uses. Unless otherwise specified, the approval is for use in people 18 or older:
upper limb spasticity, in anyone older than 2 years
crossed eyes, or strabismus, in those older than 12 years
severe underarm sweating, or hyperhidrosis
preventing migraine in people whose migraine headaches last at least 4 hours on 15 or more days per month
reducing symptoms of an overactive bladder due to a neurological condition if anticholinergic medications do not help
eyelid spasms, or blepharospasm, due to dystonia
a neurological movement disorder called cervical dystonia that affects the head and causes neck pain
Clinicians use Botulinum toxin by diluting the powder in saline and injecting it directly into neuromuscular tissue.
It typically takes 7-10 days for the toxin to take effect and the results may last 3-4 months, depending on the treatment.
People should avoid using Botox during pregnancy or breastfeeding, or if they have ever had an allergic reaction to the drug or any of its ingredients.
The cost of Botox depends on various factors, including:
whether it is for medical or cosmetic purposes
who provides the treatment
where the treatment takes place
the number of Botox units involved
Botox has cosmetic and medical uses. It can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and help treat certain disorders related to the nervous and muscular systems. If someone wants to try Botox, it is a good idea to speak to a qualified aesthetic injector about the risks, costs, and other considerations.