How Does Botox Work And What Does It Help To Treat?

how does botox work

Do you know how does botox work?

Most people have only heard of Botox and don’t know exactly how it works and what it treats. Botox is hugely popular and an increasing number of people want to try it.

Botox has earned increasing popularity over the past few decades. The number of men and women who want to try Botox is also increasing. 

One common perception is that Botox can help you look younger, but Botox is more than that.

Let’s learn about what Botox is, how does botox work, and the various conditions it can treat. 

What is Botox?

Botox is a protein called Botulinum toxin derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It is the same protein that is also responsible for causing an illness called botulism. [1] [2]

So, what makes Botox so popular? Is it something we should avoid? Is Botox harmful to us if it can cause Botulism? 

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Well… actually not! 

While Botox can cause weakness or paralysis of the muscles as it occurs in patients with Botulism, when administered in smaller doses, it reduces wrinkles and also relieves the symptoms of some other medical conditions. [3]

Botox is a neurotoxin, which means it is toxic to the nerves. When it is injected into specific tissues, it causes damage to the nerves in those tissues thus affecting their functions. As a result, these nerves are not able to send impulses to the muscles causing the muscles to become weak, paralyzed and relaxed. 

When your cosmetic surgeon uses Botox correctly in very small doses, the muscle relaxation can provide several benefits that are both cosmetic and therapeutic. [4]

The cosmetic benefits include reduced wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging plus increased firmness of the skin. The therapeutic benefits of Botox include relief from the symptoms of conditions that involve excessive contractions of the muscles. 

Botox injections are available in extremely small doses of Botulinum toxin in various forms  including [5]

  • Onabotulinumtoxin A 
  • Incobotulinumtoxin A 
  • Abobotulinumtoxin A 
  • Rimabotulinumtoxin B 
  • Prabotulinumtoxin A 

People use the term “Botox” to refer to all of these products, although Botox is the trademark or brand name owned by its manufacturers.

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How does Botox work?

The skincare experts at WebMD explain, “Botox blocks signals from the nerves to the muscles. The injected muscle can’t contract. That makes wrinkles relax and soften.

Botox is most often used on forehead lines, crow’s feet (lines around the eye), and frown lines. Botox won’t help with wrinkles caused by sun damage or gravity.” [6]

This means Botox primarily works by blocking the nerves that send signals to the muscles to contract. When nerves are paralyzed due to Botox injections they cannot send signals to the muscles, those muscles remain relaxed. This can soften the creases and wrinkles that are formed due to muscle contractions helping you look younger. 

Botox can also disrupt the nerve signaling processes resulting in temporary muscular paralysis. For the muscles to contract, nerves need to release chemical messengers called acetylcholine at the junctions where the nerve endings meet the muscle cells. These messengers attach to the receptors on muscle cells causing them to contract and shorten.

Botox inhibits the release of acetylcholine so the muscle cells can not contract. This is the reason Botox helps muscles to be less stiff.

Now, this brings us to a vital question of what Botox can treat. Let’s find out. 

What does Botox treat?

It is proven that Botox treatments can be effective for reducing fine lines and wrinkles that are caused by muscle contractions. These skin lines are also called dynamic wrinkles.

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According to the skincare experts at the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, Botox is the most popular non-invasive cosmetic procedure int the nation. [7]

It is primarily used for reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines of aging. The cosmetic uses of Botox include:

  • Wrinkles between the eyebrows called the elevens, frown lines, or glabellar lines 
  • “Cobblestone” appearance of the chin
  • Wrinkles around the eyes, especially at the corners, called crow’s feet
  • Smile lines at the corners of the mouth
  • Horizontal lines or creases in the forehead

What you can expect during Botox treatment?

Before the procedure

Most patients do not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure. However, if you are anxious, you can request the cosmetic surgeon to administer local anesthesia to numb the area. This is recommended if you are undergoing this treatment on the palms or soles for reducing excessive sweating. 

Your doctor may use topical anesthesia, vibration anesthesia, or ice to reduce pain and discomfort.

During the procedure

Botox treatment is usually performed in a doctor’s office. The doctor will use a thin needle to inject a small amount of botulinum toxin into your skin and muscles. The number of injections you will need depends on several factors including the extent of the skin area to be treated.

After the procedure

You may resume your normal activities immediately after this procedure.

You will be advised to avoid rubbing and massaging the treated areas for at least 24 hours after the procedure. This helps to prevent the toxin from spreading to the surrounding areas. 

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The results of Botox injections are usually evident after 3 to 5 days after the session.  The effects may last for about 4 to 6 months. To maintain the results, you would need to visit the doctor for follow-up sessions once or twice a year.

Skincare experts at Cleveland Clinic have mentioned, “It can take several days for botulinum toxin injections to take effect. Within three to six months, toxins wear off, and muscles regain movement. As a result, wrinkles come back, and problems like migraines and sweating may resume. You may choose to get more botulinum toxin injections.” [8]

As discussed earlier, Botox can be effective for the management of other medical conditions as well. Let us have a brief look at the therapeutic benefits of Botox. 

Therapeutic benefits of Botox

Botox can be used to treat or relieve the symptoms of the following conditions: 

  • Spasticity of the upper limbs
  • Crossed eyes
  • Severe underarm sweating 
  • Migraine 
  • Overactive bladder 
  • Eyelid spasms
  • Cervical dystonia 

Conclusion

Botox offers cosmetic as well as medical uses. It can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and treat disorders related to the muscular and nervous systems.

The higher safety and effectiveness of Botox make it one of the most preferred cosmetic treatments for people who wish to get rid of skin imperfections and look younger. 

References:

  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/botulism
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/botulism/symptoms-causes/syc-20370262
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/botox/about/pac-20384658
  4. https://www.aocd.org/page/Botox?
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352241014000140
  6. https://www.webmd.com/beauty/cosmetic-procedures-botox#1
  7. https://www.americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/procedure-learning-center/non-surgical/guide-botox-type-injectables/ 
  8. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/8312-botulinum-toxin-injections/recovery-and-outlook

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