Botox: The Basics

Botox is one of the most popular treatments for facial wrinkles and other signs of ageing. Although it may sound odd at first, the substance derives from the naturally occurring botulinum toxin, which is associated with the disease botulism. It was originally developed as a medical cure for conditions like uncontrollable eye twitching (blaspherospasm) or strabismus, which prevents an individual from focusing their vision properly. However, soon after its approval as a medical treatment in 1989, it became apparent that it would have much broader uses as a cosmetic tool. That's because it causes muscles to contract, effectively paralysing them as in a much weaker version of botulism. This can eliminate wrinkles and give the impression of reversing the skin's ageing process.

Botox can be used to treat everything from wrinkles to migraines

The only current form of treatment comes in the form of subcutaneous injection beneath the skin at the location of the muscle that needs to be treated. This could be administered around the eyes or the forehead, but injections can also be made to deal with neck spasms, while the substance has also become a popular treatment for hyperhidrosis (excessive perspiration). In some cases, it can even be used to treat chronic bladder conditions, where injections can relax bladder muscles, reducing the need to visit the toilet regularly. According to the Migraine Trust, the substance has also become a reliable and safe treatment for migraine headaches as well.

Side effects and problems associated with Botox

No medical treatment comes without risks, and this is no exception. If the injections are administered by a trained medical expert, the dangers should be minimal, but it is recommended to avoid using uncertified specialists. The major risk attached to using the treatment is that the botulinum toxin can spread away from the injection site. This can lead to symptoms such as eyelid drooping, problems with mouth muscles which can affect your smile, as well as excessive drying of the skin. In a very few cases, the botulinum toxin can spread to other parts of the body, resulting in botulism symptoms such as generalised muscle weakness, vision and breathing problems and loss of bladder control. If that happens, urgent medical attention is recommended.

When will I need to book my next appointment after my injections?

When you receive a botox injection, it will take some time for the muscles to contract and for wrinkles to disappear. Generally, changes will be seen within a few days, at which point significant changes can occur quite rapidly. How long the effects last depends upon the dosage administered and where in the body the injection is made. In most cases, the effects of using it will wear off within 2 to 6 months, at which point a fresh dosage will be required. Patients can tell when a new dosage is required as the feeling of muscle control returns well before the wrinkles or skin furrows reappear. This should make it easy to arrange for a follow up appointment to keep your skin wrinkle-free.

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