A recent scare story in the Daily Mail prompted a flurry of concern about the potential long-term risks of Botox, so we decided to take a closer look at the super toxin that has becomes the world’s most popular aesthetic treatment.
What is Botox?
We may know it as Botox, but its scientific name is botulinum toxin. Botox is, in fact, a brand name of one of the botulinum toxin products used in medical procedures.
Botulinum toxin was first discovered almost 200 years ago and over time its use in treating various conditions have been discovered. These include dystonia or severe muscle spasms, chronic migraine, excessive sweating, crossed eyes, facial tics and spasms, squints and urinary incontinence. So, how did it become an aesthetic treatment?
The breakthrough came in the late 1980s. Dr Jean Carruthers, a Canadian ophthalmologist, was using Botox to treat spasms in the eye area. Her patients reported back that a – very welcome – side effect of the treatment was a reduction of wrinkles around the eyes, commonly called crow’s feet.
Dr Carruthers and her husband, a dermatologist, performed clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of Botox as a wrinkle-relaxing treatment and Botox quickly became the preferred treatment for those looking for non-invasive anti-ageing measures.
How does Botox work?
Our facial muscles are constantly contracting and relaxing as we express our every emotion and feeling and over time our skin can form into lines, which are known as dynamic wrinkles. Botox works by stopping the signal sent from our nerve endings telling those muscles to move and thereby smoothing the overlying skin.
This is only a temporary effect; after three to four months the nerve endings start working again and your face is as mobile as before. Long-term Botox patients do report that the lines and wrinkles do become less pronounced over time.
Why is it important to choose your Botox practitioner carefully?
Nobody wants a frozen face, so it is important to choose a practitioner who will be able to gently smooth the skin, whilst you retain the ability to laugh, smile or frown as normal. Our medical director, Dr Josh Berkowitz, has many years’ experience in performing Botox treatments and always combines an artistic eye with a commitment to patient safety and happiness.
What are the risks of Botox?
Dr Peter Misra, a consultant clinical neurophysiologist at the Wellington Hospital, stated to the Daily Mail that the long-term effects of Botox on the brain, nervous system and muscles are unknown. He did say that complications of the drug were rare but his point was that the cumulative effect of the treatment on the sensory neurones had not been fully researched.
No other aesthetic treatment has had as many clinical studies or been the focus of as much research as Botox. The amount of people who have had a Botox treatment for wrinkles is also staggering. Although clear figures for the UK aren’t available, 3.59 million Americans had a Botox treatment in 2014, representing over 40% of all aesthetic treatments. As with all aesthetic treatments, there are potential side effects but these are relatively rare and certainly there is no solid evidence of any long-term problems.
Furthermore, the quantities that Dr Josh Berkowtiz uses at Wimpole Aesthetics for a Botox treatment are much smaller than those used in the serious medical conditions listed above.
If you’re interested in booking a consultation to discuss your ageing concerns and find out if Botox can work for you, call 020 7224 2247