What is Botox®?

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We hear about “Botox®” constantly these days.  Whether someone in our office got it, or someone’s mom has had too much, or whether people are blaming your friend’s “trout pout” on it, we have all heard of it, or maybe even tried it.  If you haven’t yet tried it but are considering it there are probably a few things you should know about it before you take the plunge(r).

  1. Botox® is a trade name.  The word “Botox” should only be used when describing the Allergan Botulinum Toxin Type A.  Having said that, Botox® does seem like the easiest and shortest way to describe the neurotoxin used for cosmetic purposes, and so we can all understand why people who are actually using Dysport or Bocoture or another brand of Botulinum Toxin will insist upon calling it Botox® anyway, and isn’t that wonderful marketing for Allergan?
  1. Botulinum Toxin is a neurotoxic protein that can and does cause death if it is ingested in adequate quantities.  It is also the toxin that can relieve a cerebral palsy child of the constant pain of a spastic limb, or allow a chronic migraine sufferer to hold down a job again after having taken way more days off than are allowed until Botox® took their pain away.  People like to badmouth Botox® as a “poison” and yes, they are correct, it is, and in incorrect doses so is Panado.  The doses of Botox® used for cosmetic purposes should not be able to kill a mouse, let alone a human
  1. People like to speculate that “Nobody even knows the true side-effects of Botox® yet because it hasn’t been around for long enough”. Botulinum Toxin was named in the 1800’s and purified for the first time in 1928.  Since then it has been studied experimentally until in the 1950’s the first human studies were done on injecting Botulinum Toxin into overactive muscles.  It has since been approved for use in multiple muscular pathologies from squinting to torticollis (constant spasm of a neck muscle) to bruxism (teeth-grinding), and also in strokes, cerebral palsy and Parkinsons Disease.  The doses used in these medical indications are far higher than for cosmetic indications, and all evidence (gathered over 60 years thus far) points to the conclusion that Botox® has no long lasting adverse side effects, and that all treatments are completely temporary.
  1. By now you may have gathered that Botox® PARALYSES muscles. It is not the culprit for overinflated lips and grossly swollen cheeks – that’s fillers.  Got it?  Botox® works by paralysing muscles that are causing wrinkles.  If you stop the cause of the wrinkle formation, there should be no reason for the wrinkle to continue forming.  For this reason Botox® is ideal on areas like the forehead or glabella.  For this same reason, Botox® is not ideal (unless expertly placed and in tiny doses) for use on your lips…you can imagine how tricky it would be to eat or drink anything in a social setting if your lips were paralysed.
  1. Having said that, Botox® cannot cure all wrinkles, and in many cases does work better in conjunction with a filler. Many wrinkles are caused by gravity, sleep (we all have a preferred side during our slumbers that results in more wrinkles on one side of your face as we get older) and sun damage.  These lines cannot be “Botoxed” since an underlying muscle is not the cause for them, and a filler will be used to “fill” these lines or replace lost volume.  Similarly a wrinkle caused by dynamic movement of a muscle that is deeply entrenched may also need more than a splash of Botox® to cure it.  This is where fillers can be used to achieve plumping of the skin that will reduce wrinkles.  Often Botox® and fillers are used together in areas where muscular movement may have caused a wrinkle that has become too deep to settle with Botox® alone – in this case using some Botox® to stop the perpetual worsening of the wrinkle by paralysing the muscle, and then using a bit of filler on top of that to smooth out the crease provides optimal results.
  1. Many people believe that Botox® is expensive and requires costly maintenance. This is unfortunately false.  If you consider how much money you would spend on maintaining your nails or your highlights in 3 months, or how much you spend on your facial products you will find that Botox® is in fact quite cost-effective.  With Botox® you are getting a visible result that lasts a minimum of 3 months, and with careful maintenance and repeat treatments can last up to 6 months.

If you have any other questions about Botox® please leave a comment, or email us on info@capeaesthetics.co.za!  We hope that we have demystified it at least a little bit, and that when your friends are chatting about Botox® in the future you’ll be able to look super smart by using some of these facts!  (you can check out our website at www.capeaesthetics.co.za or our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/capeaesthetics)


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