- My article was originally published at “The Woman” magazine – Oman 2015
Botox and Beauty
You hear about botched procedures every day. Cosmetic surgery and such beauty treatments might offer you the fountain of youth, but they come with major and often damning side effects.
Shots of the toxin sold under the brand-name Botox are widely used to smooth out facial lines such as forehead furrows, frown lines and crow’s feet.
Research has found that Botox can:
- Make you happier, calm
- Less depressed
- But it doesn’t make you look younger; in fact it will make you less human.
As fashion journalist and blogger Alyson Walsh mentioned in her book Style Forever, a person with “inflated cheeks or too much Botox/filler, is like an old house that had new windows put in which don’t quite match the rest of the frontage, and it still looks like an old house.”Before you decide to inject your face with Botox, it is worth taking a minute to think about where the toxins and the money are going. No matter what new studies say, Botox is still a poison. It is made from botulinum toxin A, a bacterial toxin that, in high doses, can cause potentially fatal illness.
Therefore, if you do intend to go ahead with it, then I urge you to find a qualified plastic surgeon or dermatologist who has a positive track record of performing the procedures. Improperly used Botox injections can lead to serious health problems, severe facial paralysis, deformity and, in the wrong hands- death.
Botox and Health
Botox, has been approved by the FDA, for treatment of the following medical conditions.
Severe Underarm Sweating: This condition is caused by overactive sweat glands. Botox can temporarily block the chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate sweat glands, and seems to help more than 50 per cent of patients treated. It has been reported on botoxseveresweating.com by Allergan that Botox is injected into the skin to treat the symptoms of severe underarm sweating when medicines used on the skin (topical) do not work well enough in people 18 years and older. In addition, they admitted that it is not known whether Botox is safe or effective for severe sweating anywhere other than your armpits.
However, they also mentioned that Botox may cause serious side effects that can be life threatening; therefore, they advise you to call your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of these problems any time (hours to weeks) after injection of Botox:
- Problems swallowing, speaking, or breathing, due to weakening of associated muscles, can be severe and result in loss of life. You are at the highest risk if these problems are pre-existing before injection. Swallowing problems may last for several months.
- Spread of toxin effects: The effect of botulinum toxin may affect areas away from the injection site and cause serious symptoms including: loss of strength and all-over muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision and drooping eyelids, hoarseness or change or loss of voice, trouble saying words clearly, loss of bladder control, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing. If this happens, do not drive a car, operate machinery, or do other dangerous activities.
Migraine: In 2010, FDA approved Botox as a preventive treatment for chronic migraine. As mentioned on Healthline.com by Kimberly Holland and George Krucik -MD: “Botox treatments for migraines are typically given once every three months. Treatments span a 15- month period. To perform the treatment, your doctor will inject multiple doses of the medicine in specific points along the bridge of the nose, the temples, the forehead, the back of the head, the neck, and the upper back. The goal of the injections is to reduce the symptoms caused by migraine headache.
These symptoms include nausea; vomiting; and sensitivity to lights, sounds, and smells. Doctors may not recommend Botox injections until other treatment options have proved unsuccessful. However, Botox may be a better option if you do not tolerate migraine medication well.
The most common side effects of Botox injections are neck pain and stiffness at the injection site and headache. Some patients may experience temporary muscle weakness in the neck and upper shoulders. This can make keeping your head upright difficult. Fortunately, these side effects usually resolve in a few days.
A rare side effect is possible, too. The Botox toxin can spread to areas beyond the injection site. When this happens, a person may experience muscle weakness, vision changes, drooping eyelids, and loss of strength. Fortunately, no such cases have been reported when the medicine was used as prescribed and administered by a trained health-care professional.
Overactive bladder: In 2011, the FDA approved injections of Botox to treat some patients with severe overactive bladder who haven’t been helped by lifestyle measures such as weight loss, or by prescription drugs. Botox works by relaxing the bladder muscle to prevent or ease the contractions that lead to the feelings of urgency and the leakage of urine. A side effect of using Botox for overactive bladder is urinary retention – meaning that not all the urine in the bladder passes when you urinate. Other side effects can include urinary tract infection, fatigue and problems sleeping.
Before trying Botox, Dr. Andrew Weil – M.D recommends the following to treat “overactive bladder”:
- Watch your weight – excess pounds can stress the bladder and increase the risk of incontinence.
- Avoid bladder irritants such as caffeine and spicy foods.
- Avoid feminine deodorants, which can irritate the urethra.
- Practice Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic-floor muscles and improve bladder control.
- Try keeping a bladder diary, which may help reveal what triggers your urge symptoms.
In addition, the drugs used to treat overactive bladder do work well but they have unpleasant side effects, such as dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, and even memory problems
Depression: Botox injections can help with depression. An analysis of the data published so far presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Toronto seem to support the idea that Botox injections in the face can ease depressed mood. It’s thought that the treatment works because our feelings are actually connected to the muscles in our foreheads. To oversimplify: frowning may really make you sad.
We can’t be certain, based on this data, that Botox is really the new Prozac. There’s simply not enough data. And there are other concerns. However the treatment is not perfect. Botox is expensive, at about 400$ (Rials 155) per dose, wear off in about 3 months and isn’t covered by insurance. And as the studies showed, it doesn’t work for everyone.
The bottom line is that Botox isn’t 100 per cent safe like many other treatments; you may experience some or none of the side effects of Botox listed in this article. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell if any particular side effect (such as nausea) is caused by Botox or by other factors. It is very important to let your doctor know if you develop any side effects while taking the drug. Also, let him know if you develop something that “just does not seem right.” While it may not be a Botox side effect, he will be able to diagnose and treat the problem. Finally, be sure to assess benefits and risks with your doctor before you take the decision in using Botox to treat your health problem.