The Miracle of Botox -
An Introduction (Part 1)
Injections of Botox, one of the fastest-growing cosmetic procedures on
the market today, are used for the reduction or elimination of facial
wrinkles caused by dynamic, or hyper-functional, muscles (muscles that
get a lot of use). Those are the wrinkles that form when you contract
your facial muscles to form a frown, squint, grimace, smile, or other
type of expression, resulting in those tell-tale lines around your eyes,
mouth, or nose, and across your forehead. Botox can be very effective in
temporarily getting rid of some, but not all, of your facial wrinkles.
But before we talk about which wrinkles Botox can banish, let's find
out more about this popular substance.
How Botox Can Help?
Every year in the United States, millions of men and women undergo one
or more cosmetic procedures that in some way enhance or change their
appearance. From chemical peels to nose reconstruction to eyelid tucks,
dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and other cosmetic surgeons across
the country are reshaping the way Americans look, and as a result, how
they feel about themselves.
What is Botox?
Quite simply, Botox is a type of toxin produced by the bacterium
Clostridium botulinum. If you're thinking that something sounds
familiar about this substance, that's because this bacterium is the same
one that causes botulism, or food poisoning. It's also the same
bacterium that some countries stockpile as a bacterial weapon. You might
be wondering if this is a substance you would want injected into your
Thanks to the wonders of medical technology, injecting Botox into the
face isn't only possible, it's being done thousands of times a day, and
safely. In the late 1970s, scientists discovered that botulinum toxin,
when it was diluted to a great degree, had some very positive
characteristics, properties that could bring significant relief to
thousands of people who had specific neuromuscular problems throughout
the body. And after years of science and serendipity, experts discovered
that botulinum toxin A (the bacterium has eight different toxins, or
serotypes, each named for a letter of the alphabet) has cosmetic uses as
well, especially when it comes to getting rid of wrinkles in the upper
third of the face—that is, along the forehead and at the outer corners
of the eyes. If you're familiar with the concept of homeopathy, you'll
see a similarity with Botox.
In homeopathy, a substance— sometimes one that is poisonous when taken
at regular strength, such as arsenic—is diluted to such a tremendous
degree that when it is finally ingested, it is completely safe.
Botulinum toxin is extremely potent, but Botox injections contain a
greatly diluted form of the toxin, rendering the injection safe yet
The Desire to look young
Own up to it: you may believe the old adage that wrinkles add character
to a face . . . but you don't want it to be your face, at least not just
now when you're thirty or forty or fifty. You want to look as young as
you feel. And why shouldn't you?
The desire to look young and beautiful is far from new. Since ancient
times, both men and women have searched for ways and concocted formulas
to look more youthful. Eye and face cosmetics were used by the ancient
Egyptians, the most famous of whom is Cleopatra, who was known to use
lactic acid to peel her skin to look more beautiful. Archaeologists have
found formulas, written on papyrus, that explain how to prepare mixtures
of plants and honey for women to use as facials. Archaeological digs
have also uncovered many containers that once held green malachite,
black antimony powder, and lead sulfide, all types of minerals that were
ground up and used as cosmetics.
Ancient people even performed crude cosmetic procedures to improve—in
their opinion—people's appearance. In western Russia, for example, a
broad, flat nose was considered beautiful, so parents would bind the
nose of a child to achieve this result. Because the Chinese believed
that dainty feet were a sign of wealth and beauty, the practice of
binding the feet of girls to prevent foot growth existed for thousands
of years. Among some African tribes, an elongated neck is considered a
thing of beauty, so some women keep adding rings around their necks to
gradually stretch it to a desirable length.
Modern-Day Cosmetic Procedures
As we've seen, there have always been people who are willing to undergo
different procedures or use various products to help them look young and
beautiful. Apparently many people still feel similarly. According to the
American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, 623,588 Botox procedures were
performed in 1999, two years before the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) even approved Botox injections for cosmetic use. These procedures,
which were done to reduce or eliminate wrinkles on various sites on the
face and neck, are known as "off-label" uses (once a drug has been
approved for one use, it can legally and ethically be used for other
purposes, at the discretion of the practitioner). Botox has been
approved for various medical (that is, noncosmetic) uses since 1989. And
its off-label uses for cosmetic purposes continue to grow: in 2000, the
number of procedures was 730,787; in 2001, it ballooned to 913,484.
FDA-Approved for Cosmetic Use
With the new FDA approval of Botox on April 15, 2002, for removal of
frown lines—also known as glabellar lines— on the forehead, experts
believe the number of procedures will greatly surpass the million mark.
Right now, only one other cosmetic procedure—chemical peels—is performed
more often: more than two million people undergo them each year. And
some combine a chemical peel with Botox injections to get rid of
wrinkles and improve skin texture. It's important to note that the only
cosmetic use the FDA has approved Botox for is the removal of glabellar
lines. However, doctors have been using Botox for cosmetic reasons in
this and other areas of the face for about ten years. Some of the
wrinkle sites, like smile lines that run from the nose to the corners of
the mouth and down the sides of the mouth, do not respond as well to
Botox because the facial lines that form there are not as strongly
muscle-driven as those in the other regions. However, Botox can be used
along with other cosmetic procedures to get the look you desire.
But overall, the risks of Botox, when administered by a knowledgeable
professional, have been very low. And this safety factor has fueled a
growing interest in Botox among people of all ages.
Botox injections have become all the rage, and not just among aging baby
boomers. Approximately 17 percent of the people who underwent Botox
injections in 2000 were between the ages of nineteen and thirty-four,
hardly an agegroup one usually associates with bothersome wrinkles and
aging skin problems. By far the largest percentage of Botox users was
the 35 to 50 age group, at 41 percent. Those in the 51 to 64 age group
counted for 29 percent, with men and women 65-plus rounding out the
total at 13 percent.
As of spring 2001, about 12 percent of those getting Botox injections
were men. And the number of men seeking Botox injections is expected to
grow. Botox is an easy, convenient way to accomplish the look they want.
And it's not just actors, jet-setters, and chief executive officers who
are lining up for their injections. Even construction workers, police
officers, social workers, and others from all walks of life are looking
to get rid of their wrinkles.
Why is everyone doing it? You may want to look younger to help advance
your career. For some industry, pleasant looking is a must, and you'd
better look young and vital to stay in the game.
Continued Part II
Ito Nakamura is an internet health entrepreneur specializing in marketing
contact lenses, health supplements; exercise equipment & beauty products.
Books on Cosmetic Surgery
Keywords and misspellings: cosmetic sergery sergury