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What is Botox and how does it work?

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In the cosmetic and aesthetic world, the name Botox is not a stranger to anyone. Botox has been used widely for many purposes from cosmetic to medical use. Botox is a drug that consists of a small dose of onabotulinum toxin A which is the derivative of the same toxin that causes botulism in food poisoning. 

How does Botox work?

Botox works by inhibiting the release of a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) at a neuromuscular junction which in turn cause the muscle to relax. The neurotransmitter that responsible for the muscle contraction is named as acetylcholine. 

Botulinum toxin poisoning is a debilitating condition but this is not to be worried about when it comes to Botox use. The dosage and distillation of onabotulinum toxin A mean that at experienced hands, Botox injection is highly safe. 

What is Botox used for? 

Botox is known in the aesthetic industry as the drug to abolish wrinkles and saggy skin, especially on the face. As we get older, our skin will lose its integrity due to diminishing collagen and elastin production which are the building blocks for elastic and firm skin. As a result, we get wrinkles all over the face such as the “crow’s feet”, forehead lines, nasolabial fold and marionette lines. 

Botox injection on these areas will relax the muscles causing the wrinkles thus making the skin more firm to be looked at. Botox injection may be scary for some people since it uses a needle piercing one’s skin. The injection itself is not deep and people often reported as slight discomfort rather than a pain. A numbing cream can also be applied before the injection to people who are more pain-sensitive. 

This treatment method is not a permanent way to remove wrinkles or folds of the skin. A patient needs to renew the injection every 4-6 months if they want to have a consistently firm looking skin. 

Botox injection for skin wrinkles is not advisable for certain people such as pregnant women, breastfeeding mother, ptosis (droopy eyelid) and those with facial weakness such as Bell’s palsy. Like any other medical treatment, Botox injection carries some risk as well. Some of the known and recorded side effects are like a droopy smile, drooling saliva, dry eyes, headache and influenza-like symptoms. 

In a more serious case, the injection may go into the blood circulatory system and leads to complications such as difficulty breathing and swallowing, slurred speech, paralysis and blurred vision. If these complications develop, the person should seek urgent medical treatment at the nearest hospital. This is why Botox injection should only be given by experienced dermatologist/aesthetician at a recognised clinic/centre.  

Other uses of Botox injection for medical uses are for cervical dystonia (a condition where the neck muscles spasm without control), hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), bladder dysfunction (causing incontinence) and chronic migraine (despite other medical treatment). For all these conditions, patients will be evaluated thoroughly if Botox injection is suitable for them or not. 

In conclusion, Botox is a safe and reliable method to treat skin wrinkles as well as with other medical problems. At the hands of experts, this treatment provides a satisfying result to most of the people.  

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