The Lowdown on Botox

The word “Botox” has entered into common lexicon as something that is used for wrinkles, and safe to use. Both are oversimplifications. Botox is used to improve the skin’s appearance by immobilizing the muscles that create dynamic wrinkle in the face, certainly, but it has other uses. Moreover, “Botox” is actually a poison, a neurotoxin that if ingested can kill you. It is the short name for botulinum toxin derived from Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium, and not all forms of botox can be safely used.

The most commonly understood form of botox is onabotulinumtoxin A, which is injected just under the skin to temporarily smooth out fine lines. Other forms of Botox can also be used to treat migraines, eye spasms, and hyperhydrosis (excessive sweating). In general, Botox is used only for patients aged 18 years old and above but children suffering from muscle spasms may derive some benefit from Botox treatments. However, there are serious risks associated with this and should be thoroughly discussed.

By far the most popular use of Botox is for cosmetic applications, and under the supervision of a qualified health care professional, it is extremely rare that a patient will suffer any serious side effects. However, Botox is contraindicated for people with certain medical conditions including recent infections, glaucoma, heart disease, muscle or nerve disorders, breathing problems, and dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing). Pregnant women should only undergo Botox treatment if necessary. Those who are allergic should not of course undergo Botox treatments.

Patients may experience some side effects immediately following treatment including blurred vision and muscle weakness, and are advised not to drive, operate heavy machinery or any activity requiring normal visual acuity. In general, patients experience no problems with Botox when it is administered appropriately under a physician’s supervision.