How does Botox work?

Botox pic

How does Botox work?

Botox. The wonder drug that makes your wrinkles magically disappear. But how does that actually work?

Botox is the brand name for the drug onabotulinumtoxinA.  Better known as botulinum toxin A. It is a neurotoxin created by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. This same drug used in medicine is the same molecule that can cause severe food poisoning from canned foods that weren’t prepared properly. It has actually been called one of the “most poisonous substances known.”

Don’t let that prior statement scare you away completely. Did you know that Botox is actually used for several different medical conditions? Most people know what it does for our lines and wrinkles, but it is also used for things like chronic migraines and overactive bladder. However, the most common misconception I hear from patients is that Botox “gets rid of wrinkles.” While Botox does have FDA approval to temporarily improve the look of your wrinkles, it does not technically remove them. It prevents you from making them.

This neurotoxin prevents the communication between your nerves and your muscles. It stops the messenger signal from your brain that tells those muscles to move. This means it prevents you from making those frown lines. Or those laugh lines. Or smile lines. You could describe it as “freezing” those muscles and preventing them from moving. This is where that plastic or plastered looks comes from. If you can’t move your muscles, then you can’t make those expressions that create wrinkles, right? But those expressions that you do like to make, like smiling and laughing, will also be hindered.

The whole process of getting botox is not without side effects. Many people experience bruising and swelling at the site of the injections. This can lead to a period of downtime. In addition, more serious side effects can happen if the toxin’s effects spread to other parts of the body.

Alternatives to Botox

I don’t want to paint the picture that botox is inherently bad. It definitely has it merits. But too many people ask about it simply because they are not aware that other methods are available. You can reduce the appearance of those lines and wrinkles without that “plastic” look that is associated with injections.

Radiofrequency, chemical peels, and even daily topical products can all help you achieve that youthful, natural appearance you want. All without injections! You can soften the look of your wrinkles, while still being able to make those expressions you enjoy. In addition, these other treatment modalities offer additional benefit, such as pigmentation reduction and texture improvement. Things you cannot achieve with injections alone.

A comprehensive and natural approach is our solution. Let’s create healthy skin, not frozen muscles. We can encourage your body to create its own collagen and elastin, thereby decreasing those lines and wrinkles. And when we stimulate cellular turnover your skin ends up healthier, brighter, and more youthful appearing. Call today for your skin consultation.

Written by: Chelsea Campbell, MSN, FNP-BC

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Posted in: Skin Care


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