In April, 2012 Botox turned 10 years old. That is it has been 10 years since the FDA gave Allergan approval to sell Botox Cosmetic as a solution for moderate to severe frown lines between the eyebrows and not just for medical purposes (As many readers may know Botox has numerous medical applications as well). Now that Botox is so widely used (and even abused some would say) this is a good opportunity to look back over the last decade to see what people had to say about Botox then and the reality of its use today.
Unlike a face-lift, where the skin is stretched taut like a drum but facial expression is unaffected, Botox paralyzes the underlying muscles that control facial movement and produce wrinkles. Botox, or botulinum toxin, is the neurotoxin derived from the bacteria Clostridia botulinum, the cause of botulism.
Botulinum toxin is the most poisonous substance known and is a potentially potent bioweapon. A single gram of the purified toxin, widely dispersed and inhaled, could kill a million people.
Ingested systemically, botulinum toxin kills by paralyzing the diaphragm, the muscle used in breathing. The toxin prevents neurons from releasing acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that causes muscle contraction. But injected locally, it paralyzes just a small area of skeletal muscle. The effect is temporary, lasting three to four months.
Little is known about the long-term cosmetic effects of Botox. But there is evidence that prolonged use can cause some people to produce neutralizing antibodies against Botox, which diminish or block its effect over time.
Botox had wiped the wrinkles from the woman’s brow but had also robbed her face of some human expressiveness. It made her appear not so much youthful as lifelike — a frozen imitation of youth.
Unlike this woman, many Botox users receive extensive injections above the nose, around the eyes and across the forehead, which deeply alter their expressions.
It made me wonder: Should we become a Botox nation? What are the implications for human relationships? I’m not too worried about the adults; they can figure out that their friends and loved ones are poker faced not because of lovelessness but thanks to Botox. But what about infants and children?
Now some of the above concerns have come true. There are people who have developed a tolerance for Botox rendering it less effective or completely ineffective for them. Additionally some people have gone overboard with their Botox injections causing their foreheads to become motionless and their expressions frozen, but keep in mind if Botox is used judiciously this should not happen. Certainly the popularity of Botox among Hollywood celebrities has greatly contributed to its use amongst the general popular. While celebrities are at the forefront of the use of new cosmetic products and procedures they can also clearly show the pitfalls of these procedures as well. (For a good illustration of how this pertains to Botox see Shape magazine’s article Botox: Hollywood’s Most Frozen Faces)
The key to a positive Botox experience and a great result? Finding an injector, either a doctor or a nurse (In the US any doctor, not just a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon can inject Botox, and any registered nurse can inject Botox. I would love to know from my readers in other parts of the world about how popular Botox is in their country and who can inject it), who knows their stuff. If you place yourself in the hands of a skilled injector your face looks refreshed, not overdone. Your forehead will still move while you look alert and your wrinkles are smoothed. There has been a great improvement in how Botox is injected since it was approved for cosmetic use in 2002 so the concerns from then as mentioned above, while not to be taken lightly, are not as much of a problem today.
Just how did the FDA approval of Botox for cosmetic use change the anti-aging game? The impact of Botox should not be underestimated. According to a Skin Inc. article about the 10th anniversary of Botox being approved for cosmetic use:
“When approved by the FDA in 2002, Botox Cosmetic changed the way that physicians could treat patients who were interested in improving the appearance of their vertical frown lines between the brows,” says David E.I. Pyott, chairman of the board, president and CEO, Allergan, Inc. “Botox Cosmetic has become the No. 1 neuromodulator in the United States and the number of patients considering talking to their doctor about treatment has more than quadrupled to 5.8 million since 2002.”
Botox secured its first FDA approval more than 22 years ago as a treatment for two rare eye muscle disorders, making it the first product of its kind approved in the world. In 2002, the same formulation with dosing specific to frown lines was approved under the name Botox Cosmetic.
“The FDA approval of Botox Cosmetic enhanced the practice of plastic surgery by providing plastic surgeons with a new treatment option for patients seeking to reduce the appearance of vertical frown lines between the eyebrows,” says Malcolm Z. Roth, MD, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
In the decade since Botox Cosmetic was approved, aesthetic specialty physicians–which include dermatologists, oculoplastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons–have developed extensive experience in the art and science of administering Botox Cosmetic to yield predictable results for their patients. These physicians have performed approximately 11 million treatment sessions since 2002 and have also contributed to the extensive clinical database demonstrating the safety and efficacy of the drug.
“The approval of Botox Cosmetic in 2002 dramatically changed our ability to treat our patients by giving them an effective option to treat the appearance of moderate to severe vertical frown lines with a minimally invasive procedure,” says Susan Weinkle, MD, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. “Botox Cosmetic has become more accepted by the public, and this treatment has brought more patients into aesthetic practices to learn about other treatments available.”
Though I have yet to try Botox (or Dysport or Xeomin which do the same thing as Botox yet are newer to the market) I am certainly not opposed to trying it in the future.
Have you tried Botox? Are you open to trying it? Share your thoughts below.
There is, of course, endless amounts of information available about Botox online. Here are some good sources for more information about this product.
- Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Botox (About Were Afraid to Ask) – Allure
- I typed “Botox” into the New Beauty search box and all sorts of interesting articles (with photos) popped up. Here’s the list.
- While researching this post I came across a story that was one of those “the truth is stranger than fiction” stories. Here is Vanity Fair‘s version of the events – The Botoxed and the BoldFaced. This article also includes information about how the poison botulism became a cosmetic injectable. Certainly an interesting read.
Image from allure.com