Botox - Smoothing Out The Wrinkles!

Medical Author: Alan Rockoff, MD
Medical Editor: Frederick Hecht, MD

On the face of it, asking a doctor to inject a deadly poison into your skin to make you look better doesn't seem like such a good idea. Yet that's exactly what people do when they get Botox treatment. And, they usually like the results.

"Botox" is short for botulinum toxin A, the product behind a nasty form of bacterial food poisoning. (The bacterium is called Clostridium botulinum.) Swallowing too much of the toxin can make you very sick, but doctors have learned to purify Botox for injection into specific muscles. This treatment has a growing number of uses, from easing muscle spasms (for example, in spastic cerebral palsy) to flattening wrinkles.

Dermatologists and plastic surgeons use Botox to relax the frown lines in the middle of the forehead, just above the nose. These lines make you look annoyed or angry, even if you're not (or if you are and don't want everybody to know it!).

Botox treatment involves injecting very small amounts of the purified toxin into the wrinkles. Within two or three days, the muscles that produce frown lines lose their ability to contract. For the next three months or so after you're treated, you can't frown even if you try. After that, the effect gradually decreases until muscles return to normal about six months after the treatment, which can then be repeated.