IS BOTOX SAFE? THE EXPERT GUIDE
Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2011 · 1 Comment
Botox has many uses – from anti-ageing to treating migraines. Consultant plastic surgeon Mr Charles Nduka separates the fact from the myths surrounding the most popular non-surgical procedure.
Since its first medicinal use in 1980 in America to treat misaligned eyes and uncontrollable eye ticks, botulinum toxin, commonly known as Botox, has growninto a multimillion pound industry. In fact, despite the recession, market analysts Mintel report the global market for cosmetic procedures has grown by 17 per cent in the last two years and is now worth £2.3 billion.
Non-surgical procedures — the most common of which is Botox by far — account for 74 per cent of this in the UK. But is Botox safe? A study in mice published a few years ago fuelled headlines about the long-term effects of Botox, in particular that botulinum toxin could travel to the brain. Although the research has since been largely discredited, concerns among patients still exist (and numerous examples of celebrities with frozen faces haven’t helped to dispel such fears). For that reason, Expert Beauty has created this in-depth guide to Botox.
WHAT IS BOTOX?
Botulinum toxin is a purified protein manufactured in pharmaceutical laboratories. It works by stopping nerve signals reaching muscles. When injected into the face, reduced creasing of the skin allows the natural repair mechanisms of the dermis to fill in the wrinkle. This is why it works best on expression lines (dynamic wrinkles) rather than wrinkles unaffected by facial expression (static wrinkles).
IS IT REALLY A POISON?
Yes. Originally produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, botulinum toxin is one of the most powerful neurotoxins. In the 1800s it caused many deaths by botulism (generalized muscle paralysis), usually after eating poorly prepared meat. When used medically, it is produced in a laboratory in purified form and given in minuscule quantities.
IS BOTOX SAFE?
The drug has been used in medicine for almost 30 years. There are approximately 1800 published studies about it, making it one of the best-researched medicines ever. Dosages used to treat children with cerebral palsy may range from 100 to 400 units, whilst typical dosage for cosmetic use is 20-50 units.
CAN BOTOX BE USED TO LIFT SAGGING BREASTS?
No. Despite reports in the press, there is no evidence that injecting Botox either in the chest skin or chest muscles improves the appearance of the bust.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?
A temporary tiny pink mark (which usually lasts a few minutes) or bruise may occur at the injection site. You can reduce the risk of bruising by avoiding aspirin or ibuprofen-type drugs in the week prior to treatment (as these drugs thin the blood and are best avoided prior to any injectable treatment). Rare side effects such as laziness of an eyelid or mild double vision may occur due to technical error. Fortunately these effects are temporary and reported to last one to two weeks.
HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?
Botulinum toxin will reduce facial lines and wrinkles for approximately four months, so most people have treatment two to three times a year. The results of treatment are not immediately apparent, taking about two days to appear and a week or two to reach maximal effect.
WHAT ABOUT MIGRAINES AND EXCESS SWEATING?
Botox has recently been approved in the UK for treating migraines. It also reduces excessive sweating.
WILL IT PRODUCE A BLANK, EXPRESSIONLESS FACE?
Only if used inappropriately. Unfortunately, many practitioners think that because reduced muscle activity reduces wrinkles, the more the face is paralysed the better. However, it is possible to subtly reduce wrinkles whilst still maintaining effective facial expressions.