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|Botulinum Toxin Injections|
A Popular non-surgical treatment for wrinkles
Commercially available as Botox®, Vistabel®, Dysport® and Neurobloc®, botulinum toxin injections are all commonly referred to as Botox injections whichever brand is actually being used. Botox ‘freezes’ the muscles responsible for wrinkles on the forehead, between the brows and around the eyes, reducing or eliminating the wrinkles without the need for cosmetic surgery.
Researchers in the 1950s first discovered that injecting overactive muscles with minute quantities of the botulinium toxin (type A) rendered the muscle unable to contract for up to 6 months. In 1987 a Canadian ophthalmologist called Dr. Jean Carruthers, was treating patients suffering from a twitching of the eyelid with botulinum toxin when she noticed a reduction of the wrinkles around the eyes.
The phenomenon she was observing was the selective blocking of the brain-to-muscle signal so that, when the patient laughs or frowns, the untreated facial muscles work normally allowing natural facial expressions, but the overlying skin remains relaxed and consequently smoother and unwrinkled.
Nowadays, Botox is a relatively painless alternative to plastic surgery, requiring no invasive operations and lasting up to 6 months at a time.
The wrinkle removal process
Being non-surgical, the procedure simply requires your skin to be cleaned and then small amounts of botulinum toxin injected into the area being treated. The process should only take around 10 to 15 minutes. “I couldn’t believe how quick and simple it was,” said one Botox patient. “It was just like going for a check-up at the dentist.”
Botulinum toxin can be used to remedy all wrinkles which are the result of normal facial movement. It has no effect, however, on lines on the face caused by age-related sagging or sun damage. The best results are obtained on the upper part of the face, around the eyes and forehead. It can be used to slightly shift the position of the eyebrows and smooth out the knotted appearance that some people get between the eyebrows and at the upper end of the nose when they smile or frown.
Your individual suitability for botulinum toxin injections will be discussed during your initial consultation with the cosmetic surgeon. As another Botox patient put it, “My face was very wrinkly and prematurely aged. The specialist explained exactly what a Botox treatment would, and would not, achieve. And he was right – I still have some wrinkles, but thanks to the Botox, I no longer look like a prune!”
The effects of botulinum toxin injections are not permanent and will gradually wear off. You may, therefore, wish to book a course of treatments to produce a more enduring effect. Depending on the area being treated and the dose being administered, the time between treatments will be between 3 to 6 months. Excessive dosing, however, can lead to an immunity to the toxin building up in your body.
Risks and recovery
Immediately after a Botox session you can expect to look and feel fine. Your specialist will advise you to treat the injected area gently for 24 hours following the treatment. Otherwise, you should be able to go about your usual activities straight away. Always remember to follow the advice given by your surgeon after the procedure to ensure that the outcome is as successful as possible and reduce the risk of complications. “Immediately after the procedure I felt a slight tingly sensation where the injections had taken place,” said one patient after his Botox treatment. “That soon disappeared and I was left feeling normal, but looking younger.”
The botulinum toxin used in all forms of Botox is a purified protein made from the botulism bacteria. Alarmingly, it is the most poisonous naturally occurring substance in the world. However, in minute quantities, its power can be harnessed to block muscular activity. It is very difficult, even for experienced surgeons, to always predict precisely how botulinum toxin injections will affect your muscles. It is possible, therefore, that the results will not always be what you expected. There are occurrences of unintentional outcomes, such as drooping eyelids. Fortunately this would only be a short-term problem as it will resolve itself when the effects of the botulinum toxin injections wear off.
Botulinum toxin injections, whether Botox, Vistabel, Dysport or Neurobloc, can be obtained from a wide variety of practitioners including plastic surgeons, general surgeons, dermatologists, general practitioners, ophthalmologists, cosmetic doctors and dentists. As botulinum toxin is a prescribed medicine, beauty therapists and other non-medics are not allowed to inject it.
Most clinics and practitioners charge by the area of the face treated and may charge from £200 to £300 per session. Discounted prices are usually available when more than one area is being treatment at the same time.
As with all cosmetic surgery, the risk of side effects following treatment is reduced by going to an skilled practitioner. Always check the practitioner’s experience and qualifications before going ahead with a treatment. And, of course, personal recommendation is always a good indicator of a practitioner’s ability.
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