Clostridium botulinum is a naturally-produced bacterium and is found in some soils, lakes, and forests and is generally harmless. The neurotoxin produced by this bacterium is known as Botulinum Toxin or by its brand name, Botox.
In large amounts, the neurotoxin can cause botulism-like symptoms such as muscle weaknesses, trouble breathing, etc. Due to this, many people are worried that Botox injections are harmful. While this toxin can be harmful when used incorrectly, Botox injections contain small, purified, and diluted amounts that provide relief from many health problems and cosmetic issues. People with severe underarm sweating, muscle contractions of the neck/shoulder muscles, uncontrollable blinking, bladder/bowel disorders, or even chronic migraines can gain relief by having Botox injected into the muscles around their problem area.
In a cosmetic setting, Botox injections can relax wrinkles and fine lines, which provides you with a more youthful appearance. Botox works by preventing fibers in nerves from releasing acetylcholine, a chemical transmitter. If your muscles do not receive acetylcholine, they will remain relaxed and do not contract. This causes your wrinkles in that area to relax. The area may need multiple injections during each treatment, but most people find this treatment to be pain-free and have little to no side effects. After receiving a Botox injection, it usually takes 3 – 7 days to see the full effect of the treatment on the wrinkles or lines that were targeted. Treatments generally last 3 – 12 months, dependent on the area that is injected as well as the number of treatments you have received previously. Side effects are usually limited to pain, bruising, and/or swelling around the injection site. Most people find Botox less painful than other cosmetic procedures such as chemical peels or dermabrasion.
Botox is approved by the FDA for the cosmetic treatments mentioned above. You should only receive Botox injections from a licensed professional, as there are “black market” injections that can contain unsafe amounts of the toxin. You should never receive Botox injections while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussion about medical, cosmetic, mohs, and surgical dermatology. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed dermatologist or other health care worker.