Have you noticed that, more and more, these days people talk about “botox”? It’s a word that’s extremely recognizable and while it may have had a stigma associated with it in years past, it’s so “normal” to talk about or even “get” now.

And what’s interesting is that botox has increased dramatically in popularity among men and is dubbed “bro-tox”!

But what is exactly is “botox”?

It may surprise you to know that botox is actually a drug that is derived from a life-threatening toxin that is produced by a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum.

Remember when your parents told you not to buy “swollen” cans of food at the grocery store? Well, that was because if food wasn’t canned properly, it could create the perfect conditions for bacterial cells such as C. botulinum to produce the toxin and cause the cans to bulge.

clostridium botulinum 01
Stained Clostridium botulinum cells as seen under a microscope

LUCKILY, the botox we’re talking about has nothing to do with food and everything to do with medicine! In medical (and cosmetic) applications, the toxin is purified and injected in very small doses that are meant to be therapeutic and not harmful.

There are different manufacturers of therapeutic or cosmetic botulinum toxin. The trade name of BOTOX® belongs to the company Allergan. But other forms of the drug include Dysport® made by Galderma, Jeuveau® by Evolus, Inc., and Xeomin® manufactured by Merz Pharmaceuticals.

So, when you hear “botox” it could be any one of these companies’ formulations (it’s kind of like how we refer to all facial tissues as “Kleenex®”).

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What’s the difference between all these different “botoxes”?

Well, let’s talk about what’s the same first. They all contain the exact same active ingredient which is botulinum toxin type A as a starting point. But then, the various manufacturers may add other proteins or components to the purified botox protein which affects how much the doctor uses (the dosage), how much is spread in the tissues (diffusion) and how fast the results are noticed. Usually, your doctor (or nurse injector) will have a preference for a particular product depending on what it’s used for.

What’s really cool is how botox was actually discovered!

Like so many other discoveries, medical and cosmetic botox came from a trial-and-error story! Over 40 years ago, in 1978, Dr. Alan Scott, an ophthalmologist, was determined to help one of his patients who’d had multiple surgeries for crossed eyes (strabismus) without any success. Well, this patient was his first success story and as a result, he’s been touted as the “Father of Botox”. Then, “drug” was named Oculinum as it was predominantly used to treat eye disorders.

About 10 years later, the drug company, Allergan, acquired the rights to distribute Oculinum and performed some drug trials for other medical conditions. Botox is used nowadays to treat some of the following:

Migraines

Usually, botox injected every three months can drastically reduce the number of headaches that patients experience.

Foot Discomfort/Pain

People who have experience excess sweating of their feet or tightness in their calf muscle as a result of certain conditions or even wearing high heels may opt to have botox injections to alleviate pain.

Digestive Problems

Sometimes after surgery for esophageal cancer, people experience difficulty with food passing from the stomach to the small intestine. A botox injection in the pyloric sphincter which acts as a barrier between the stomach and small intestine will relax this muscle and allow food to pass through easier.

Overactive Bladder

This condition gives people the feeling that they need to go to the bathroom urgently. As a result, they often will “wet” themselves because their nerve signals are communicating that the bladder is full to the brain and causes the bladder to leak. Here, botox stops the signal and lets the bladder fill properly and gives people more control over their bladders.

Hyperhidrosis

As mentioned above, botox can help with excessive sweating of the feet as well as the hands and the underarm areas. This condition is known as hyperhidrosis.

Then, in 1992, physicians, a husband-and-wife team, first reported that botox could have cosmetic applications. From there, others in different medical disciplines noticed that muscles that cause lines could be inactivated.

At this point, you may be wondering, how does botox work?

Since botox is a neurotoxin, which means it is poisonous to nerve cells, it inactivates nerves that tell muscles to contract. When nerves cells are stimulated, they release a special chemical messenger, called a neurotransmitter, that sends a message to the muscle.

So, when botox targets the nerve cells in that specific muscle, the muscle is not able to contract, and this happens within 3-4 days. Then, without the neurotransmitter, the muscle stops “working” until the body can repair the nerve activity.

Is cosmetic botox different from medical botox?

Both are the exact same! The only difference is that the cosmetic botox is only used to treat the face and the medical botox is to treat spastic disorders in the extremities and neck.

The allure of cosmetic botox is that because the drug prevents muscle contraction, the skin over the muscle appears smooth and relaxed which may be more youthful in appearance.

What you should know if you’re considering having botox…

  1. Cosmetic botox isn’t a necessity, it’s more of a perk for those who may be interested in preventive treatment.
  2. Whether you’re having botox for medical conditions or cosmetic purposes, make sure you have a consultation to establish a good rapport with whoever is delivering the drug to you. You have to feel comfortable.
  3. Make sure the person giving you the medication is properly qualified. The individual should be taking a thorough medical history to ensure that botox is right for you.
  4. Don’t shop around for the best price. Remember you get what you pay for, and discount drugs may not be the way you want to go. You’re paying for the experience and expertise of the injector, so you want high quality. The price is usually determined by the number of units that an injector will be giving you.
  5. It doesn’t take long to have treatment. It can easily be done on a lunch break and there is no “recovery” time. It usually doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes. It’s a good idea to ask how many units of botox will be used for your particular concern.
  6. Don’t expect results immediately because it usually takes a few days for the neurotoxin to take effect.
  7. Nothing lasts forever, including botox. It will eventually wear off and muscle activity will return within 3-4 months.
  8. Pain, bruising and bleeding at the site of injection are normal occurrences. After all, the skin has been punctured and manipulated a little. However, in very rare cases, there may be some symptoms that are similar to botulism – difficulty swallowing, speaking, or breathing, body weakness, visual disturbances, or loss of bladder control – which require immediate medical attention.

Did you know that cosmetic botox can be combined with other therapies that help with rejuvenation?

Injectable dermal fillers “fill in” the lines and wrinkles of the face. Fillers last between 6-18 months depending on where they are injected and help contour the face and add volume to the face and lips.

Non-surgical facelifts, called thread lifts, help to lift and tighten skin that may be sagging or loose. This procedure can also be combined with cosmetic botox.

So, from the beginning to the end of this blog, it’s probably safe to say that you now know a little more than you did before.

But there’s always more to learn. If you want more information about botox for medical or cosmetic reasons, please book a consultation appointment with one of our board-certified and experienced injectors who are always ready and willing to help you Look.Feel.Be the best YOU.

For more information or to book your consultation at any of the following clinics, please call 1-866-333-3305 or book an appointment below

Brantford * Collingwood * Kincardine * Orillia * Ottawa West * Owen Sound Embrun

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