Botox: Definition, Uses and Effects

Botox is seemingly a commonplace word in the world of cosmetic beautification, but what is the full extent of its uses, and what exactly is it?

At the very heart of it, Botox is derived from a neurotoxin that’s produced by the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. It’s more commonly known as botulism toxin.  The word ‘botulism’ carries a lot of weight, as it’s known to be one of the deadlier toxins on the planet. However, of the eight types (A, B, C [C1, C2], D, E, F, G 18 and H.19), only four of them cause the disease in humans.

What are the cosmetic and medical benefits of such a toxin?

Botox is largely known for its anti-ageing effects. Paralysing facial muscles, it helps to remove the effects of wrinkles, most commonly around the eyes- eliminating canthal lines (crow’s feet).

As for non-cosmetic uses; Botox is used to help those who suffer from conditions that involve muscle spasms. Its uses aren’t merely confined to the face. The toxin can help with anything from eyelid spasms to anal fissures.  The uses can also aid the upper limbs of post-stroke victims, and those who suffer from cerebral palsy.  Some of the lesser known conditions that it can help include: excessive sweating, overactive bladder, and urinary incontinence.

Cosmetic procedures are relatively quick to perform. It takes between 1 and 3 days for the toxin to take effect, and roughly 5 days for the effects to be made apparent.  Procedures of a non-cosmetic nature will, of course, be somewhat more complex.

What are the side effects?

Few drugs or procedures are without their drawbacks. Like in many cases, the effects will differ from person to person.Some of the more common Botox side effects can include:
-Muscle weakness, bleeding, pain and swelling around the area in which the toxin was admitted
-Flu-like symptoms
-Back pain
-Skin rashes
-Vision problems

Some side effects can be more severe, but they are much less common.
Only roughly 1% of people who undergo a procedure using botulism type A will develop antibodies that render following treatments ineffective. Treatments under the other types differ in their effectiveness.

The use of the word ‘toxin’ will push many people away from considering this treatment. However, only 23 deaths were reported between 1989 and 2003 by the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology (communicating through the FDA). All deaths occurred outside of cosmetic use.