Stopping the Clock with Botox

No one wants to look older than they are. In fact, there are many women (and men) who will resort to somewhat extreme measures to appear younger looking. One of the trendiest procedures to achieving a younger looking appearance is Botox injections. Doctors have been using Botox for years to successfully treat wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes, forehead and mouth area.

The Botulinum toxin or Botulism (food poisoning) toxin was first discovered in the 1820s after several people ate improperly prepared sausage resulting in their death. This same toxin has been the subject of germ warfare during World War II and was considered to be the deadliest substance in the world at the time. Of course this piqued the interest of scientist. In 1953 it was discovered that injecting small amounts of the toxin into overactive muscles caused them to temporarily relax. In the 1960s animal testing was done and it was determined that the botulinum toxin was safe and useful in the treatment of muscle spasms, crossed eyes, eye twitching, facial spasms, cerebral palsy and even those who suffered from extreme underarm sweating.

Therapeutic use of the neurotoxin was approved by the FDA in 1978 and used in human volunteers for the first time in 1980.

primarily for facial spasms and the name was officially changed to Botox. As research continued new uses of Botox were discovered.

In 1992 a study of the use of Botox was published in the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology stating Botox injections was a simple and safe procedure for the temporary treatment of forehead wrinkles. Dermatologists in Hollywood and all over the world took note and Botox sales soared. With new uses of Botox quickly being discovered and FDA approvals continuing to roll in, sales reached $310 million by the end of 2001. By the end of 2006 sales passed the $1 billion mark.

How does Botox work?

·         Botox blocks signals from the nerves to the muscles. The injected muscle can't contract. This makes the wrinkles relax and soften. Botox is most often used on forehead lines, crow's feet (lines around the eyes), and frown lines in between the eyebrows.

How long does it take before you see results?

·         It generally takes three to seven days to see full results. The results typically last four to six months as normal muscle action returns and wrinkles begin to re-appear.

Are Botox injections painful?

·         No. Getting Botox takes only a few minutes and doesn't require anesthesia. Botox is injected with a fine needle into specific muscles with only minor discomfort similar to a bee sting. 

Are there any side effects?

·         The "frozen face" look is probably one of the most visible side effects of Botox injections. Numerous concerns have also been raised over the training and technique of those who give injections at malls and spas.

·         Temporary bruising is the most common side effect. You may also experience headaches which should not last more than one or two days.

·         A small percentage of patients may develop a droopy eyelid if you rub the injected area around the eye within 12 hours of receiving the injection. This rubbing causes the Botox to move around.  

How much does it cost to get Botox injections?

·         The cost of Botox injections varies widely depending on where you live. It will cost more if you live in California, New York, Las Vegas or Atlanta vs Texas, Arizona or Florida. Depending on how many areas of the face you want treated you could expect to pay anywhere from $250 - $1500. Just getting the injection around your eyes will not cost as much as getting injections around your mouth, forehead and eyes. 

·         It also depends on if the procedure is for cosmetic or medical reasons such as cerebral palsy, excessive underarm sweating, chronic neck pains, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, extreme joint pain and muscle cramps. 

Is Botox covered by insurance?

·         Typically Botox is not covered by insurance if it is for cosmetic purposes to get rid of lines and wrinkles. Always check with your doctor and your insurance company for coverage details. 

What age group of women are most likely to get Botox for cosmetic purposes?

·         The majority of women who use Botox start after age 35. However, some women are starting much earlier in life in their twenties to delay the onset of wrinkles.

Where can I get Botox injections?

The safest place and most controlled environment would be your doctor's office. However, Botox services can now be found in gyms, malls, spas and at birthday parties. It became a common theme with TV makeover shows. But proceed with caution. Its popularity (and sometimes high price tag) inspired a number of knockoffs and "faux-tox" became a favorite of scam artists. Many women are now receiving Botox injections for Valentine's Day, birthdays, anniversaries and divorce parties.  

Are there natural alternatives to Botox

Yes there are:

o    Hyaluronic Acid - naturally occurs in human skin. When applied to skin it helps the skin to retain moisture and creates a firmer, plump appearance.

o    Retinol - a derivative of vitamin A, this is the only vitamin that has been proven to re-program damaged skin cells. It's used to correct age spots, it's an anti-oxidant, it stimulates the layer of skin where collagen and elastin are stored, it boosts collagen production while slowing down the natural breakdown of collagen as we age. This results in a smooth, firm skin surface and better skin tone.

o    Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) - used to exfoliate the outer layer of the skin, these acids include glycolic acid, lactic acid and citric acid. They remove dead skin cells.

While Botox will give you more immediate results, you will see results over time with the use of natural alternatives.

Final thoughts - It's clear that medical research confirms that Botox offers a quick solution to erasing one of the most natural signs of aging; wrinkles and fine lines. Celebrities have embraced the Botox movement for years and we often see the benefits as well as the horrors of their decision to have Botox injections. We've all seen the "frozen face" look and wonder, will that ever go away? We've also heard that this is addictive for some and the gateway to plastic surgery. In our continued quest for the "fountain of youth" the perception of what is beautiful and acceptable continues to be a hot topic of conversation. Stay fabulous - stay beautiful!