What is Botox anyway?

So you have decided on having facial injections to help deal with those lines that have been bothering you for a while now (how long has it been anyway?). Ok great but what to have? And what is Botox anyway? This is your face, your look, your body. You need to know what it is you are asking for and what it is you can expect.

Honestly, I’ve probably heard it all with regards to Botox – ‘rat poison’, ‘I won’t be able to move my face anymore will I?’, ‘will I look different’, ‘will I still look like me?’, ‘will I still be able to smile?’, ‘will it cause me a medical problem if I use too much?’. Let me clear a few things up for you.

Botox is actually a trade name for the neurotoxin botulinum toxin type A but as most people know it best by the former, we shall use Botox in this discussion.

Botox is, as I have said, a neurotoxin derived from the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum which is a naturally occurring organism found in the environment. In this state, it is relatively harmless but as botulinum toxin, it is a powerful toxin which blocks the transmission of signals from nerves to muscles. In fact just 2kg of botulinum toxin is enough to wipe out the entire human race! Scary right?

Well yes, so Botox is a paralyzing agent and yes, it is deadly in large quantities but in the doses used in cosmetic application (which are TINY) it is just enough to relax the muscles in the face which pull the skin and cause those pesky lines and wrinkles! The body is able to eventually fight off and process the Botox which is when you know you need to come back for more – the lines return as power returns to the muscles.

Cosmetic use is just one of a host of uses for Botox in fact. Other uses (in much greater doses than those used for lines and wrinkles) include relaxation of spastic limbs in patients with brain injury, migraine  and some bladder and bowel problems.

With regards to how much you will be able to move your face after injections and whether you will still look like you and be able to pull facial expressions; yes. The amount of Botox and its placement is key in this. I aim for just enough Botox to relax the muscles and allow the lines to settle but not enough to stop your face from moving.

As for Rat poison……No.  That is probably Warfarin you are thinking of. And that has good medical roots too!

So now you know and hopefully you can make a more informed decision.


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