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Safe and Effective: What Exactly Is Botox?


Botox is a purified form of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, a naturally-occurring toxin that can cause a type of food poisoning called botulism.

Contrary to misconception, it is nearly impossible to contract botulism from Botox injections. First, the concentration of the toxin in an injection is diluted. Second, the amount of solution injected into the muscle is minuscule, just enough to treat each precise area.

Because Botox works by blocking signals from the nerves to the muscles, it is sometimes referred to as a neurotoxin.  With the signal stopped, the injected muscles can no longer contract.  If injected on the face, wrinkles will relax and soften.

Botox has been studied for medically therapeutic purposes since the early 1950s. In 1953, physiologist Dr. Vernon Brooks discovered that injecting small amounts of the toxin into a spastic muscle caused the muscle to temporarily relax. In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, Botox was experimentally used to treat muscle-related ophthalmologic conditions.  By 1989, Botox was FDA approved to treat crossed eyes and muscle spasms of the eyelid.

Eventually, Canadian opthalmologist Dr. Jean Carruthers noticed that the patients she treated for muscle spasms of the eyelid enjoyed an unexpected additional benefit from the injections:  wrinkles were softened, too.  In 1992, she published a study in The Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology stating that though it is temporary, “treatment with C. botulinum-A exotoxin is a simple, safe procedure” to alleviate brow wrinkling.

Dermatologists and plastic surgeons immediately took note, and the Botox craze began.  The drug manufacturer, Allergan, created Botox Cosmetic in response, specifically as an aesthetic treatment to soften fine lines and wrinkles.  In 2002, Botox Cosmetic was FDA approved to treat forehead wrinkles.

Both the original Botox, now branded as Botox Medical, and newer Botox Cosmetic contain the same active, primary ingredient:  onabotulinum toxin A.  Today, all cosmetic physicians utilize Botox Cosmetic, rather than Botox Medical, in their practices.

The most common side effects are pain, swelling, or bruising at the injection site. Here at Elizabeth Roche Med Spa we can minimize these side effects by administering numbing cream, ice, and arnica montana tablets, a natural herb clinically proven to reduce bruising and swelling.

A typical Botox treatment takes less than an hour and results are visible within a week, lasting between two and four months. There is no downtime.  Botox Cosmetic is one of the safest, quickest, and most cost-effective ways to noticeably improve your appearance through cosmetic medicine.