Overview of botulinum toxin
Botulinum toxin (BTX), also known as botulism, is a neurotoxin produced by the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It can be found in soil, food, and water sources. Humans are exposed to it through eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. The toxin also occurs naturally in some foods, such as honey.
Botulinum toxin (BTX) has been used more frequently in dermatology over the years, and it is currently one of the most popular cosmetic procedures carried out in the US. OnabotulinumtoxinA was given FDA approval in 2002 to treat dynamic glabellar frown lines. Although dynamic rhytids in the upper third of the face are the most frequently treated with BTX for relaxation, advanced aesthetic treatment methods for other anatomic sites have been developed and are currently used off-label.
When ingested, BTX causes flaccid paralysis that affects the muscles around the mouth, eyes, nose, and throat. Most often, it’s used for cosmetic purposes. But it has many medical uses, especially when injected into the treatment of migraines and dystonia. Botulinum toxin may also have therapeutic potential in treating other conditions, including spasticity and Parkinson’s disease.
Botulinum toxin works by blocking the release of acetylcholine from the nerve endings at neuromuscular junctions. This prevents the transmission of signals between nerves and muscles. It’s most commonly used to treat the following conditions:
- Cranial dystonia
- Muscle overactivity during sleep (sleep apnea)
- Migraine headaches
- Nasal obstruction due to drooping nasal septum
- Parkinson’s disease
- Tics, tics disorders, and Tourette syndrome
The toxin comes in three different forms. They include:
A type A botulinum toxin, which is manufactured using recombinant DNA technology. OnabotulinumtoxinA is approved only for use in adults with moderate to severe glabellar lines.
A type B botulinum toxin. It is approved for use in adults with moderate to severe cervical dystonia, upper limb spasticity associated with cerebral palsy, and blepharospasm.
An autologous botulinum toxin. It is manufactured from human blood serum and is FDA-approved for the treatment of excessive sweating in patients ages 12 and older.
How long does it take for the effects of Botox to last? It varies depending on what you’re injecting and how much you inject. But typically, the effect of botox and filler courses near sheffield lasts anywhere from two to six months. During this time, your doctor will check your progress every few weeks. He or she will administer a new dose if your symptoms are not improving. You’ll then have to wait another two to six months before checking back with your doctor again.
In addition to injections, doctors use Botox in the form of creams and gels to address muscle hypertrophy or muscle spasms. For example, they might use it to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles or forehead furrows. It may also be applied to the neck, shoulder area, the trapezius, the biceps brachii, and the forearm flexors.
Botox is available in four strengths: 0.1 units/ml (10 mU/ml); 0.2 units/ml (20 mU/ml); 0.3 units/ml (30 mU/ml); and 0.4 units/ml (40 mU/ml).
Can you get Botox elsewhere besides your dermatologist? Yes. In fact, more than one million people receive Botox injections each year. About 60 percent of these patients seek out non-dermatologists for their Botox injections. And about 10 percent are referred by dermatologists with whom they’ve had a good experience.
But it’s important that you work with a qualified professional who understands the risks of Botox. If you choose someone who isn’t board certified, he or she may not be up-to-date on the latest research regarding Botox. You should ask the dermatologist or physician how long he or she has been working with Botox.
What are the side effects of Botox? Allergic reactions to the medication are rare but do happen. Other possible side effects include:
- Redness and swelling at the injection site
- Pain after the injection
- Blurred vision
How effective is Botox? Studies show that it reduces the appearance of frown lines and crow’s feet by 50 percent. It may also help reduce the appearance of nasolabial folds. The average person notices results within one week. But results can vary significantly among individuals. Some people notice significant improvement right away; others don’t see any change until several weeks later. Results will continue to improve over time.
Is Botox safe? Yes. There is no evidence that it causes cancer, birth defects, or allergic reactions. It generally doesn’t cause permanent damage.
However, there are precautions you must follow before receiving Botox injections. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Do not drink alcohol while taking Botox. Alcohol can increase the risk of developing double vision or blurred vision.
- Do not drive or operate machinery immediately after receiving the medication.
- Don’t eat anything within eight hours of getting the injection.
- Avoid contact with anyone who recently received Botox.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after the procedure.
If you develop blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness, call your doctor immediately. These are all signs that your body is reacting to the toxin.
Will Botox make me look like I’m 20 years younger? No. Botox doesn’t actually change the appearance of your face or skin. Instead, it temporarily blocks the signal between nerves and muscles. As a result, the muscles relax and become less tense. Once the medication wears off, you’ll revert back to how you looked before starting the series of injections.
Why didn’t Botox just stop the muscle movement? Botox works by blocking the signal between nerves and muscles. So, once the toxin stops working, your muscles continue to contract. That’s why you need to stay active after your Botox treatment. Otherwise, you’ll lose the benefits of the medication.
Botox is not addictive. But you shouldn’t start another treatment without consulting your doctor.
What kind of anesthesia is used to perform Botox injections? Doctors usually insert a needle into your skin with local anesthesia. Then, they slowly inject the Botox solution under the surface of your skin.
How often can I get Botox? It depends on the condition being treated. Each patient is unique. But generally speaking, you should expect to complete a series of treatments once or twice per month.
How long does it take to recover from a Botox injection? Your body takes anywhere from five days to several weeks to fully recover from the toxin. You will feel sore where you got the shot. However, the soreness should subside within a week or so. You may also experience temporary blurring of vision or sensitivity to light. For the first 24 hours, avoid direct sunlight and bright lights.
How long does Botox last?
The effects of Botox wear off gradually. Depending on the amount of toxin injected, you may notice positive results within two to six weeks. However, you may still experience some symptoms for up to six months after your treatment.
What happens if I miss a Botox appointment? Missing an injection appointment can cause your muscles to react quickly. Your muscles may even begin to tighten. This could lead to an undesirable situation. Therefore, you need to be careful and consistent with your Botox appointments.
How much does Botox cost?
It depends on the number of injections required, the strength of the toxin used, and the location of the treatment. Prices range from $500 to $1,000.
Where can I learn more about Botox? Visit your primary care physician and ask him or her to refer you to a dermatologist. The best way to find a reputable practitioner is to ask friends and family members. You can also search online for “botulinum toxin” to find local providers.