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The Strange Science Behind Botox
Botox is used to very effectively lessen the appearance of facial wrinkles, by temporarily “freezing” certain facial muscles that cause lines and furrows. Millions of women and men get Botox injections every year!
And while everyone from the highest paid A-list celebrities to your next door neighbor is relying on Botox to look young and refreshed, most people do not understand exactly how Botox works.
As the Birmingham, MI area’s leader in Botox treatments, we have helped thousands of women and men look more youthful with Botox injections. In this article we explain the “weird science” behind how Botox actually works.
What is Botox?
Botox is actually a brand name and not the name of the chemical itself. The actual substance is called “OnabotulinumtoxinA” or “Botulinum Toxin Type A”. But because “Botox” was the first brand of botulinum toxin used for anti-wrinkle treatments, the name stuck.
Wait… “toxin”? Yes, Botulinum Toxin Type A is made from the bacteria that causes botulism – the same thing that causes deadly botulism poisoning when you eat improperly preserved canned food.
But Botox injections contain only tiny, tiny amounts of the toxin – that are very safe when injected into a specific muscle, if done by a trained medical professional.
How Does Botox Work?
In a nutshell, the botulinum toxin blocks nerve activity in the muscles of the face.
When a person laughs, smiles, concentrates, frowns, squints or makes other facial expressions, the facial muscles contract – resulting in temporary lines, wrinkles and creases. With repeated expressions over time, these creases and lines become permanent – even when not making a facial expression. Botox works by blocking the nerve signals in the face that cause the facial muscles to contract and form creases and lines.
More scientifically, your muscles are triggered to clench or contract by signals from the nerves. The nerve and the muscle are separated by a small gap. The nerve releases a chemical called acetylcholine into this gap, which sticks to the muscle, causing the muscle to contract.
But the botox “toxin” stops the nerve from being able to release the acetylcholine. And without acetylcholine, the nerve cannot communicate with the muscle, so the muscle is paralyzed or “frozen” and cannot contract.
And if the muscle doesn’t clench or contract, it doesn’t cause lines and furrows!
As an additional bonus, clinical studies have proven that Botox can also stop new wrinkles from forming, in addition to reducing existing wrinkles.
What Else is Botox Used For?
Botox has been used to treat a wide array of medical conditions for several decades. It was only in the 1990s that it began being used as a cosmetic treatment.
Botox is used to treat severe spasms in the neck muscles (cervical dystonia), as well as elbows, wrists, fingers, ankles, and toes.
Additionally, Botox can be used to medically treat certain eye muscle conditions, including uncontrolled blinking or spasm of the eyelids. Botox is also used to treat overactive bladder and incontinence that is the result of nerve disorders such as a spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis.
Botox is also used to prevent chronic migraine headaches in adults.
And, in 2004 Botox was approved by the FDA to treat “severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis” – the medical term for excessive sweating under the arms.
So, while Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria in Botox, is a “toxin” known to science – it is also a valuable, effective and very safe medical and cosmetic treatment when administered by a trained medical professional.
Birmingham’s Best Botox
Dr. Ali is a double board certified plastic surgeon, and an experienced Botox specialist. He will take the time to understand your appearance goals, assess your facial and skin condition, and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
Birmingham plastic surgeon Dr. Ali offers the absolute best technologies in Botox, facials fillers, line fillers, lip fillers and wrinkle and line reduction. Schedule a consultation to see if Botox, or another facial or lip filler procedure, is right for you.
Then relax in our Birmingham MedSpa, while we make you look and feel younger and even more beautiful!