The obsession with looking young is more prominent today than ever. People are living longer and the desire to retain the smooth, wrinkle-free skin of their youth is almost an obsession for many.
Botox parties have become a fad and this has led to warnings from the Food and Drug Administration about possible risks associated with administering Botox in a setting that is not equipped to handle an emergency, should the need arise.
What Is Botox (Botulinum Toxin)?
Botox or "botulinum toxin A" is one of seven types of - A through G - proteins that are produced by the pellet-shaped bacterium known as Clostridium botulinum.
When Botox is injected into the muscles of the area around the brow, it essentially paralyzes them. This prevents the brow from wrinkling thereby making frown lines disappear temporarily.
The neurotoxins found in Botox attach themselves to nerve endings, blocking the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which triggers muscle contractions.
By blocking the signals that are normally received telling the muscles to contract, Botox effectively stops wrinkles from forming.
One thing that many people do not realize and one that is associated with the dangers of using Botox is this botulinum toxin is closely related to botulism. A type of food poisoning that is caused by eating something containing a neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum.
The main cause of death from botulism is paralysis of the respiratory muscles - essentially, death from not being able to breathe.
Botox For Medical Conditions
The use of Botox for reasons other than cosmetic purposes ranges wide, even assisting in sweat reduction. More specifically, a condition known as Hyperhydrosis, which is a medical issue that causes profuse sweating.
The current FDA approval for the use of Botox as a treatment for this disorder is limited to underarm sweating. Botox is injected into the armpit and works by blocking the nerves that trigger sweating.
Botox has also been prescribed to those who have migraines or severe tension headaches. However, it is usually only prescribed when oral medications have not been successful. Research is currently ongoing concerning the effectiveness and possible dangers associated with this treatment.
Blepharospasm or "eyelid spasms", cervical dystonia or "contraction of neck muscles" and Hemifacial spasms or "facial spasms" are some of the other medical conditions that have been treated with Botox.
Also keep in mind, these treatments are only used for easing the various symptoms rather than repairing the actual source of the disorders. Therefore, the treatment must be repeated every few months to maintain any benefits.
The risks of side effects linked to the treatment of medical conditions include:
- Soreness in the armpit and bleeding at the injection site when used to treat profuse sweating.
- 11% reported neck pain
- 12% reported upper respiratory infections.
- 19% reported difficulty swallowing.
Dangers Associated With Botox Injections
The incidence of side effects caused by the use of Botox for cosmetic purposes includes the following risks that have been documented by:
- Droopy eyelids
- Muscle weakness
- Facial pain
- High blood pressure
- Tooth problems
Approximately 1% of those who have Botox injections around the lips suffer from uncontrollable drooling. This side effect may last three or four months before disappearing.
Pre-existing medical conditions can increase the risk of side effects and dangers associated with injections of Botox. Negative effects that are more serious include double vision, chest pain and difficulty speaking.