What is Botox?

Botox is the trade name under which a purified form of the botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A) is marketed. BTX-A is a neurotoxin secreted by the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium botulinum that inhibits neuromuscular transmission by blocking the secretion of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Although Clostridium botulinum infection can be life-threatening, Botox use is generally regarded as low-risk.

Botox was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 as a cosmetic treatment to improve the appearance of wrinkles. Botox treatment has become increasingly common in the last decade and is currently the most popular of the facial aesthetics both in the U.S.and in other parts of the world.

What Is Botox Used For?

Botox is widely considered to be the most effective non-surgical treatment for wrinkles available on the market today. It's used for a variety of cosmetic and medical treatments. As a facial aesthetic, it's used to treat chronic wrinkles of the forehead, eyelids, lips and neck.

Botox is also used to treat the ocular conditions blepharospasm and strabismus, as well as neurological conditions associated with increased spasticity and involuntary motor movement such as cerebral palsy. In 2010, the FDA approved the use of Botox for the treatment of chronic migraine headaches.

How Is Botox Administered?

Botox is an an attractive alternative to plastic surgery for many people who are looking to medical science to help improve their appearances. In 2007, over 4.6 million Botox injections were performed in the U.S.

Botox is administered as an intramuscular injection directly into the appropriate muscles. The needles used in Botox injections are extremely fine, and most people report only mild discomfort, if any at all. The medication takes effect within five to ten minutes after the injection is complete. Most patients experience some mild localized swelling at the site of the injection that disappears entirely within 24 hours of the injection.

Who is Qualified to Administer Botox?

The qualifications for practitioners performing Botox injections vary by county and state in the U.S. but can include plastic and cosmetic surgeons, dermatologists, nurse practitioners, nurses, physicians' assistants and dentists. The BTX-A toxin degrades within three to six months, so the effects of Botox injections is not permanent.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Botox?

There are some risks associated with Botox. Redness, bruising and infection at the Botox injection site have all been known to occur, and some patients also report transient flu-like symptoms that generally subside in a day or two. In rare instances, the medication has been known to travel from the site of the localized injection. Additionally, since BTX-A is a protein, a small fraction of the population is allergic to it.

As with all cosmetic surgery procedures, an initial consultation with a certified cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist is highly recommended before getting Botox. An initial consultation allows the patient to get all of the facts about the procedure, and gives them a chance to ask the administer questions. The patient will also need to disclose past health records and information to be sure there aren’t any health risks or allergies before undergoing the procedure.

Houston Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Cara Downey is a cosmetic surgeon specializing in breast reconstruction, breast surgery, and cosmetic surgery procedures. In-office procedures include the administration of Botox, Restylane, Chemical Peels, and other minimally invasive procedures.