BOTOX® 101: Your Questions Answered

Learn more about BOTOX at out Toronto practice

BOTOX COSMETIC for wrinkle correction is one of my most popular services year after year at my Toronto and Richmond Hill clinics. Patients appreciate how convenient it is to get great anti-aging results with the quick injections. Because BOTOX is so popular, I’ve decided to devote a series of blog posts to answering my patients’ questions. All these questions have been asked by my customers.

What is BOTOX?

It’s the most popular cosmetic treatment in the United States and the world, followed by dermal fillers such as Restylane®, JUVÉDERM®, and Emervel®. BOTOX has been known and researched for many decades, and a lot is known about this molecule. Yes, BOTOX is a protein. The active component of BOTOX inhibits the “communication” between the nerve and the muscle, therefore canceling in part or completely the muscle contraction and weakening the wrinkles.

“The injections slow muscles that contract hundreds of times a day, eventually etching lines in the skin,” says NYC plastic surgeon Michael Kane, author of The BOTOX Book. “BOTOX can also lift the corners of the mouth that sag with age, smooth out the ‘pin cushion’ look in some chins, soften smoker’s lines around the mouth, and soften vertical neck cords.”

How long does BOTOX work?

The average clinical effect of BOTOX is between 3 and 5 months. It varies slightly between patients, doses, gender, and exposure to sun and smoking. Men require higher doses. It takes a few months for the wrinkles to go back to the original pre-treatment state, so it is very common for patients to have 2 treatments per year, the exception being the patient who wants no recovery of muscle activity whatsoever. This patient will have her or his treatment 3 times per year.

Is BOTOX a toxin?

Let’s first define what a toxin is. A toxin is a molecule, a protein, that inhibits a physiological action, often by binding to a biological macromolecule. So by binding to the host’s chemical mediator (called acetylcholine) and inhibiting a precise muscle contraction, BOTOX is a toxin.

Keep in mind, though, that it is a toxin used by millions of people all over the world. We have learned over the years to use a small amount of this molecule, and, in a controlled and precise fashion, your plastic surgeon is mastering the injection of this molecule for your pleasing aesthetic result.

How was BOTOX invented?

BOTOX was not invented per se; the molecule has existed for millennia. The history of BOTOX is, however, fascinating as many of its applications today have been discovered by chance, the same way many medications have been in pharmacological history. That being said, the active molecule of BOTOX was discovered and extensively researched in the 1950s and 1960s as a muscle blocker for patients with cerebral palsy and various types of scoliosis and their associated muscle spasms. This was later extended for the treatment of overactive eye muscles to correct strabismus (crossed eyes). One such Canadian patient being treated for strabismus came back to her ophthalmologist in Vancouver in the late 1980s telling her surgeon that not only her eye had been corrected, but her crow’s feet had also disappeared!

Shortly after, in the early 2000s, BOTOX was used between the eyebrows and over the forehead as a wrinkle treatment. Then one day, someone who used to have pearly sweating over the forehead noticed his oversweating was reduced once he was getting BOTOX for his wrinkles. This is when BOTOX was found to also treat hyperhidrosis. Another patient receiving a similar forehead and glabellar wrinkle treatment one day noticed her headaches had disappeared!

So today, BOTOX is used to treat wrinkles, heavy sweating (aka hyperhidrosis), and some types of headaches. It is also used to treat other overactive muscles and tissues such as the bladder and the lower esophageal sphincter, as well as overactive glands such as the submandibular glands.

Is BOTOX safe?

When using the Health Canada-approved BOTOX made in California by Allergan® and when done by an experienced professional, yes, BOTOX is safe. There is extensive research done on BOTOX, and after having visited their laboratory in California, I can say for certain that they are following the strictest and most sterile environment for their production standards.

Check back soon for the next part of my series, BOTOX 201. If you have any other questions, please contact us at Visage Clinic or leave a comment below.

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