Fear of aging has become so prevalent in our society that for beauty we have reached a new age. It is true that the ancient Egyptians used kohl, which we know to be harmful, to enhance their beauty, but they did not know it was harmful. Today, however, the allure of looking younger (which we associate with looking beautiful) leads us to take a toxin and turn it into a beauty aid. And that is just what Botox is - a poison that we inject to smooth our wrinkles and reduce the appearance of aging.
Botox is created from Botulinum Toxin Type A. This is a protein complex that the bacterium Clostridium botulinum produces. This protein contains the exact same toxin that is the cause of food poisoning. However, this toxin has been somewhat tamed and made fit for medical use. The United States Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Botox for smoothing frown lines in 2002, and deemed it medically acceptable for the use of frown lines. But even before this, Botox was approved medically in 1989 to treat uncontrollable blinking and misaligned eyes. In 2000, Botox was approved to treat cervical dystonia, which results in severe shoulder and neck contractions.
The reason that Botox can do all of this because it is used an injectable and sterile form of the purified toxin that helps to paralyze the muscles of the face. What happens is that the small doses block the release of the chemical (acetylcholine) meant to signal muscle contract. This means that the muscles below the surface of the skin cannot contract, and this results in smooth, paralyzed muscles that allow frown lines (and other lines) to smooth out. It only takes about a week for most lines to disappear completely.
It was a direct result of the doctors working with the eye patients that led to the discovery of the fact that Botox could help erase frown lines. The doctors noticed that their patients had an unusual side effect - the lines surrounding their eyes began to disappear. This discovery, and the fact that soon Botox was approved for use on frown lines, has made Botox one of the fastest growing cosmetic treatments in history. In fact, Botox is even more popular than breast augmentation. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that an injection feels a lot less invasive (and is, of course) than a major surgery. And no matter how enhanced one’s breasts are, they cannot stop the appearance of aging. Botox appears to hold the key to the fountain of youth.
Marketing strategies to sell Botox have resulted in its huge success. Medical practitioners hold Botox parties. It is possible to purchase Botox in bulk at a discount. This means that a plastic surgeon or doctor can conveniently provide the Botox to a large number of people. Women especially get together to talk, listen to a seminar, and have refreshments. And the Botox is on hand for injection. This way the whole process is less a medical procedure and more of a party favor. The whole experience becomes interesting and fun, and the lines stay away for as many as one hundred and twenty days. This means that one need only get an injection three times a year. That is hardly onerous.
The good news is that even though the toxin is used in Botox injections, there is no chance of contracting botulism because the strain of the bacterium is sterile. However, there are some risks involved with getting Botox injections. If injected into the wrong facial area, one can experience eyelid muscles that droop for several weeks. Other side effects can include respiratory infection, nausea, flu syndrome, headache, and sometimes redness at the injection site. However, very few people have any trouble at all with side effects, and as long as patients are sure not to go more than once every three months, they are relatively safe.
The new age of beauty has arrived, and it is one in which we can have the signs of our aging erased without having to undergo surgery. All we need are occasional injections and to be carefully not to get too much of the toxin injected in the wrong places