Cosmetic And Medical Uses For Botox

Botox injections tend to get a bad rap, mostly from examples of misuse and overuse depicted in the media, such as the pictures of starlets and Real Housewives with frozen, expressionless faces. The other issue is that the main ingredient in the Botulinum toxin, which is one of the most poisonous substances known to man.

The truth is that, although Botox is derived from a poison, the injections use incredibly small amounts of the substance. Additionally, the drug has been proven effective in treating several medical conditions including strabismus (crossed eyes), chronic migraine, and cervical dystonia (excessive tightness in the neck and shoulder muscles). Botox is also used to treat fibromyalgia and can even be used in conjunction with natural remedies.

When used properly, as a cosmetic procedure, Botox treatment can reduce the appearance of frown line and worry lines in your forehead, between your eyebrows, and in the corner of your mouth and eyes.

How Botox Works

The Botox treatment works by preventing nerve impulses from reaching the muscles. When injected directly into muscle tissue it prevents the muscle from contracting.

Botox as a Disease Treatment

Strabismus and cervical dystonia are both caused by imbalances in the way muscles contract. When the imbalance occurs in the eyes, one eye may not move in tandem with the other causing the eyes to cross. One eye could also lag, or not move at all – remaining locked in place because the muscles contract but don’t release properly.

In cervical dystonia, the neck and shoulder muscles on one side contract, or spasm, pulling the head to one side. This condition not only twists the neck, the muscle spasms are also very painful.

When injected into the problem muscles, Botox causes them to relax, thereby relieving pain and restoring proper mobility.

Doctors uses similar principles with using Botox to treat fibromyalgia and migraines.

The belief with fibromyalgia is that the Botox blocks the nerve signals that cause the generalize fibromyalgia pain and tender spots.

With chronic migraines, the belief is that, when injected as a preventative measure, Botox neutralizes the muscles in the neck and head that are responsible for the migraines.

Botox as a cosmetic

You have over 50 facial muscles that control facial expressions, speech, chewing and other functions. The muscles that control facial expression are attached to the skin because your skin plays a large role in facial expressions. You can’t smile or frown without the skin in the corners of your mouth, and between your brows, moving to make those expressions.

Additionally, we make facial expressions all the time (even when we’re not aware of them) so that means our facial skin gets quite a workout. Over time the skin starts to wear and crease from constant use.

When injected into target facial muscles, the Botox treatment prevents those muscles from contracting which relaxes the skin on top of those muscles. Not only does it prevent you from consciously contracting those muscles, it also prevents the millions of unconscious contractions that occur.

When done properly, Botox should not “freeze” your face. The intent is to reduce mobility in small areas so that the only thing people notice is the lack of wrinkles, not a lack of facial expression. The “mask-like” appearance that is attributed to Botox is usually caused by treating too large an area (like your entire forehead), and applying the treatments too frequently.

What You Can Expect

Botox is usually injected directly into the muscle. Whether this is done for cosmetic or therapeutic purposes, the patients tend to have similar experiences and reactions.

Many patients feel mild stinking and irritation at the injection site. This could be from the needle pricking the skin, or from the Botox entering the muscle tissue.

Some patients also experience mild pain, swelling, bruising, and bumps at the injection site. These affects usually last no more than 24 hours. During that time patients are advised to apply ice to the area, and to avoid lying down for at least four hours after the treatment.

Botox injections can last up to four months, but you may notice the effects wearing off earlier.

With medical procedures this could mean that, while you still have mobility or are pain-free, you begin noticing gradual tightness in the targeted muscles. With cosmetic procedures, you may notice that the lines gradually return to the targeted areas.

You can get additional injections once the initial Botox injections have worn off, or as directed by your doctor. However, you should avoid having treatments too close together, or treating too large of an area.

Finding a Physician

Whether using Botox as a medical treatment, or for cosmetic purposes, you should make sure your doctor is properly trained and licensed. Organizations like the American Society of Plastic surgeons, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons can help you find a reputable physician. Additionally, you should also consult your regular physician before trying any cosmetic or medical procedures.


“Image courtesy of marin /”.

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