Botox and Botulism | Botox and Safety

Botox and Botulism | Botox and Safety

Neurotoxins and botulism and paralysis, OH MY! This is what many people think when they hear the word Botox. It’s true, Botox has taken a bad rap, but is there any credence to these concerns? After all, Botox is America’s #1 cosmetic procedure, can it really be that dangerous?

Before we jump in, let’s define a few terms to get us going.

  • Botulism: a rare, but serious condition characterized by muscle weakness caused by the bacteria Clostridum botulinum.
  • Neurotoxin: a substance that works against the natural responses of nerve cells.
  • Paralysis: the loss of voluntary muscle movement.
  • Vascular occlusion: a rare but potentially serious blood clot behind the retina of the eye that blocks light.

Ok, now we can jump in.

Why do some people say Botox is not safe?

This is a common, yet understandable misconception in the world today. Botox gets its name from the Botulinum toxin, a protein extracted from Clostridum botulinum (mentioned above). If this live bacteria enters the bloodstream, it will attach itself to muscles and replicate, weakening or completely immobilizing the muscle.

Sounds scary, right? Well, let’s keep talking.

Why Botox is safe

Botox for aesthetic purposes is a pure protein, meaning there is no bacteria and it cannot replicate, like the live protein mentioned above. Further, Botox is injected into the skin, not the bloodstream and is slowly metabolized by the body. If that weren’t enough to calm your fears, if in some strange world Botox were to enter the bloodstream, the amount necessary to cause symptoms of botulism is thousands of times higher than what would be used in the face, and since the body naturally metabolizes Botox, the effects would be temporary.

Why you can still make facial expressions with Botox

joan rivers overdone filler and botoxAnother reason Botox gets a bad reputation is because of overuse and what we would call ‘botched’ jobs. You might be thinking of Joan Rivers, Kim Kardashian (or any of her family) or Melanie Griffith, just to name a few.

As with just about anything, the possibility of looking overdone is a potential. However, all of these celebrities have had a multitude of procedures, including plastic surgery, fillers and yes, Botox, but Botox usually is cited as the main contributor.

These examples are actually atypical of actual results. With the popularity of Botox and the number of men and women lining up on a regular basis to cover up and prevent their wrinkles, chances are you are surrounded by people receiving this treatment.

It would be safe to say that the majority of clinics and medspas operate under the goal of, “Everyone will notice, no one will know” mentality. If you are concerned about looking overdone, discuss this concern with your provider and remember, it takes A LOT of Botox (and even other things) to get that overdone.

botox comic

Bonus Facts About Botox

Botox was originally developed in 1987 to provide relief for those who suffered from uncontrollable muscle spasms (blepharospasm), specifically around the eye. It wasn’t until 2002 when the FDA announced their approval of the injection for aesthetic purposes.

And one final positive to note is that Botox is also effectively used to treat people with excessive sweating of the hands, feet and underarms (hyperhidrosis).

Further Reading:

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