Botulinum toxin (BTX) is a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum and is manufactured and purified in laboratories for medical use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved BTX use in cosmetic industry decades ago based on its excellent track record of effectiveness and safety. The first commercial form is marketed under the brand name Botox® and is produced by successful company called Allergan®.
The Botulinum toxin is a very powerful molecule due to its effect on neurotransmission. It works by interfering with communication between the endings of cells in the nervous system (neurons), more precisely in acetylcholine-mediated communication. In simple term, it helps to prevent muscle contraction and therefore reduce wrinkle formation. Furthermore, it also disrupts the neurotransmission for the skin to sweat, hence its popular use in treating excessive sweating.
It is true that BTX does not work immediately. The process takes time, normally this period is about 3-5 days and the full results can be seen after 1-2 weeks. Treatment can be completed over lunch hour, but the result will only be noticeable days after.
Another myth surrounding the use of the Botulinum toxin is that it cannot be used at the lower 2/3 of the face. On the contrary, the depressor muscles in the neck, chin and corners of the mouth can in fact be targeted to lift up the face in unison. BTX can also be used to get rid of the platysma bands as well as on the chewing muscles (i.e. masseters) for facial slimming. In the hands of advanced injector, BTX can be used in many areas to rejuvenate one’s appearance without compromising any facial expression.
BTX injections in the midface should only be attempted by an experienced clinician. This is to avoid limiting facial expression in particularly smiling. With the discovery of hyaluronic acid based dermal filler, restoration of volume and wrinkle softening can easily be achieved in the midface to achieve the desired result, in a much better and safer way. Combination therapy is the new way of rejuvenation.
Recently, a new method of administering the Botulinum toxin has emerged to subtly enhance faces while maintaining facial expressions. Named ‘Babytox’ or ‘Boytox’, it is a quick procedure involving very small amounts of the Botulinum toxin injected over a larger area, some superficially. It is a very popular procedure that is embraced by people as young as early 20s to combat the formation of wrinkles. It refreshes the appearance without limiting any facial expression. It is therefore particularly popular for actors and actresses.
The concentration of Botox injected in patients is around 0.75 ng per 100 units, or roughly 1/5 of the estimated lethal dose in humans.