Botulinum Toxin was first used in the 1970s to treat strabismus (crossed-eyes), and has since been used to safely and effectively change the position of the eyes.
It was in 2002 that Botulinum Toxin received US FDA approval for cosmetic purposes for forehead wrinkles treatment for use on glabellar (“angry 11”) and canthal (crow’s feet) lines. Since then, millions of Botulinum Toxin treatments have been performed, with a high safety and efficacy profile.
As with any treatment involving FDA-regulated substances, Botulinum Toxin injections need to be done in a medical aesthetic clinic by a fully-trained and certified Botulinum Toxin specialist for the results to be safe, consistent and subtle, giving you a naturally refreshed appearance. Like medicines, Botulinum Toxin has side effects – headache, bruising, redness, swelling – which can be minimized if FDA standards and manufacturer doses are carefully followed.
But after millions of Botulinum Toxin treatments, certain myths still persist. Botulinum Toxin has been around for close to 15 years, so it’s high time to rethink some of the misconceptions that have been surrounding Botulinum Toxin all these years.
1. Botulinum Toxin injections will make you look “frozen”
Part of the reason why this myth remains is the fact that Botulinum Toxin wipes away your angry frown lines. It also doesn’t help that come red carpet season in Hollywood, many celebrities get aggressive skin tightening treatments and appear with impossibly smooth foreheads and expressionless looks attributed to Botulinum Toxin.
While Botulinum Toxin relaxes your muscles, this doesn’t mean, however, that it will leave you emotionless: far from it. Botulinum Toxin works by blocking signals from the nerves to the muscles so the muscles can’t contract (which makes those ‘angry 11s’). With the muscles relaxed, wrinkles soften and other smaller and finer creases disappear.
The right amount of Botulinum Toxin will leave you with enough facial animation so you’ll still be able to express surprise, happiness and yes, even frustration. So if you think your skin care specialist has injected too little Botulinum Toxin, wait awhile to see its full effect. It could take up to 72 hours for Botulinum Toxin to make a noticeable difference, and up to 10 days for individual with thicker skin and stronger muscles to see Botulinum Toxin’s maximum effect.
2. Botulinum Toxin injections are toxic to the body
Botulinum Toxin is derived from an isolated segment of the bacteria onabotulinumtoxinA, so it’s easy to see why a myth such as this can easily scare potential patients. FDA regulates the number of units a dermatologist can use on glabellar lines (angry 11 lines) and crow’s feet, which are the areas that are FDA-approved for Botulinum Toxin use. As it is, it would take hundreds of simultaneous Botulinum Toxin injections for its dosage to reach levels that are lethal for human use.
3. Botulinum Toxin will move around your body and affect everything
Botulinum Toxin injections are very localized, with a diffusion of about a centimeter and doesn’t move around unless you rub the treated area (which you shouldn’t up to 12 hours after injection).
4. Botulinum Toxin injections will make you addicted to it
Botulinum Toxin doesn’t contain addictive ingredients. What makes patients want to get Botulinum Toxin treatments again and again is their desire to maintain the skin rejuvenation effects of Botulinum Toxin.
Muscle action gradually returns in three to six months, which is why some patients may decide to have wrinkles and lines, which reappear within this period, treated once more. Over time, however, Botulinum Toxin treatments make wrinkles appear less severe as the muscles relax.
5. Botulinum Toxin makes you look older if you stop getting treatments
As Botulinum Toxin wears off, muscle action gradually returns so your wrinkles will get back to the way they were before.
The myth that Botulinum Toxin injections will make you look older stems from your perceptions, as you have gotten used to seeing yourself without wrinkles after Botulinum Toxin, and then seeing those creases reappearing once the effects of Botulinum Toxin subsides.
This is why some patients opt to get this anti- wrinkles treatment every few months. The upside of this is that Botulinum Toxin makes these creases appear less pronounced over time as the muscles around the treated area shrink, requiring fewer visits to the clinic at longer intervals.
6. Botulinum Toxin can remove all my wrinkles
Botulinum Toxin is only used to treat dynamic wrinkles; that is, wrinkles that arise from facial movement. What Botulinum Toxin does is prevent a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) from sending signals to muscles so they don’t contract. If you have deep, static wrinkles that are the result of sun exposure and natural ageing and not the result of repeated facial movement, you may want to have these treated with facial fillers or Pearl resurfacing lasers instead.
7. Botulinum Toxin is done only for cosmetic reasons
Incidentally, Botulinum Toxin was first used to treat strabismus, or crossed eyes. Patients noticed that the treated area showed fewer wrinkles after the Botulinum Toxin treatment, and according to anecdotes, would come to have another treatment on the non-affected eye.
Anecdotes like that about Botulinum Toxin may abound, but the reality is that today, in addition to treating strabismus, Botulinum Toxin is FDA-approved for use on a variety of medical conditions. In a Botulinum Toxin clinic in Singapore, patients get treatment for excessive sweating.
Other than that, patients may get FDA-approved Botulinum Toxin treatments for chronic migraine, overactive bladder, spasm of the eyelids, severe neck and shoulder muscle spasms, urinary incontinence, post-stroke upper limb spasticity, and hemifacial spasm. For cosmetic use, Botulinum Toxin is FDA-approved for use on glabellar lines (angry 11) and canthal lines (crow’s feet).