Myths about Botox

     It's all about muscle

     Botolinum toxin or better known by its commercial name of Botox is generating much interest these days. Knowing that I handle quite a fair bit of Botolinum toxin in my daily work, my aunt once exclaimed, “What? You inject toxin into someone else’s face. Wouldn’t that cause the person to have toxin deposition in the body?” And well, she is not the only person to say so. There were many others friends, relatives and patients alike, who asked me the same question. I feel that it is about time people get to know this medication a little bit better.

     Botolinum toxin was first discovered in contaminated sausages in the late 1900s. What happened at that time was that people who consumed contaminated sausages had weakening of the muscle. Later, they started to discover that the weakening of muscles was actually caused by a toxin secreted by the bacteria called Clostridium botolinum and the name botolinum was coined from the word botulus which means sausage in Latin. 

     Fast forward to the present day, through modern technology, we managed to extract the components of the toxin which causes the relaxation effect to the muscle– the neurotoxin. This neurotoxin is purified and does not contain other elements that may cause harm to the body. The powerful neurotoxic effect of the toxin has found its way to benefit mankind in a multitude of ailments. Treating diseases such as cervical dystonia, a neuromuscular disorder which causes the neck to be in spasm (constant contraction of the muscle) at all times; strabismus or better known as squinting (unbalanced muscle strength of the eye muscles) and many more has been made possible with the discovery of this medication. And the indication of this medication is still growing over time. 

     In my line of work, this medication is used for face reshaping, wrinkle softening and treating tired looking eyes. The logic behind its use in the aDamaesthetic field is simple. We relax the muscles which are in constant contraction. These muscles which are overly active are “taught” to relax but not to be paralysed. The result is a person with a more “relaxed” complexion rather than one who appears “strained”.  Proper use of this medication relaxes the face without leaving a “plastinated” or expressionless facies and this can be done with proper titration of the medication. If you do not like the effect of this medication, fret not, as the effect will wear off by itself in a few months’ time.  

     Having talked about the uses of Botolinum toxin, I would like to stress that though this medication actually has its benefits and side effects as other medications. The good news is that this medication has been extensively studied to look out for its benefit and side effects before it is allowed to be marketed. Common side effects are, transient headache, blurring of vision, which will recover over time. If you are interested with the treatment, please discuss with your doctor before proceeding for treatment. 

     As you may notice, the word toxin has been replaced by medication at the end of the article. Like all other medications, proper use of this substance makes it a medication while improper use may inversely turn it into a toxin.

Anna Hoo.