Botox is a popular medication used worldwide cosmetically to help erase fine facial lines and wrinkles. You have likely considered getting Botox to smooth out your facial lines, but have you ever wondered how exactly it does that?
Botox is actually a neurotoxic protein. The scientific name for it is botulinum toxin and it is produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. You have probably heard of the disease botulism, a type of food poisoning. This disease occurs when large amounts of the toxin are released into your system, paralyzing your muscles.
Doctors have taken this effect and harnessed it to help, not harm.
Botox uses a very small, extremely dilute dose of the toxin. The dose is so small that no danger from the toxin remains. The toxin prevents the muscles from contracting, by blocking the nerve impulses that control them. Since the muscles can no longer contract, the wrinkles smooth out and fade away.
After several months the nerves will begin sending out new shoots allowing the muscles to receive signals once more. At this point, retreatment is necessary, but over time your muscles will become trained and any returning wrinkles will be much less noticeable. The length of time needed between treatments varies, depending on each individual. Some people will require treatments around the three-month mark, while others will be able to go as long as nine months between treatments.
Botulinum toxin works because it blocks the chemical acetylcholine from traveling from the nerves to the muscles. The neurotransmitter acetylcholine instructs the muscle to tense up or contract. Without acetylcholine, the muscle simply doesn’t retract, which allows it to remain loose and relaxed, softening up the area and easing the wrinkles.
In addition to treating wrinkles, the signal-blocking effect of Botox is also useful for treating conditions like migraine headaches, muscle tension and spasms, and excessive sweating.