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Botox decoded

There are many misconceptions about non surgical aesthetic treatments. Culturally, they're all around us. How do we know what to believe?

I recently watched the 2004 film A Cinderella Story with my daughter, and was absolutely gobsmacked by the way the 'evil stepmother' of the story referred to Botox. She had become an unnatural looking, overfilled, 'frozen' lady, and tells her daughters that despite being very upset with them, she "can't show emotion for another hour and a half" following her Botox treatment.

It's a funny moment in the movie, and we all love to laugh at this ridiculous character. But sadly for skilled aesthetics professionals like me, it serves to reinforce the myths about the way treatments work, and what the effects will be.

These myths are so widely believed that I have to admit that when the film first came out I myself didn't realise that this was a ludicrous exaggeration for comic effect. Back in 2004 I was not yet a qualified medical doctor or a trained aesthetics professional, and so I simply believed what I saw.

Firstly, I can reassure you that no one visiting my clinic will end up with the permanently frozen, plastic or surprised expression of television Botox. My approach is to enhance your natural beauty.

Secondly, I believe we should be knowledgeable about anything that we want to expose our bodies to, so let me dispel some of the myths for you.

Did you know that Botox is a trade name?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” William Shakespeare

Non surgical aesthetic injections have commonly become known as Botox, but in fact this is one of the many trade names on the market, Botox is a brand manufactured by Allergan. Other brands that you may be familiar with in the UK are Azzalure by Galderma and Bocouture from Merz. Each of these uses the same underlying technology to enhance natural beauty and prevent wrinkles. In my clinic at Fountain of Youth I use Azzalure.

Whichever brand you choose, the active ingredient is a neurotoxin called botulinum toxin which is derived from the bacteria clostridium botulinum. Anything with the word 'toxin' in sounds pretty scary, right? This is the reason that we are more used to referring to the treatment by friendlier-sounding brand names. Botulinum toxin is safe for use when injected in appropriate amounts by a skilled professional. When we talk about Botox, we are actually talking about the treatment, not the drug itself.

We need a new term. Studies often refer to these treatments as BTX so as not to keep referring to the trade name and thereby be seen as favouring one over the others. I'll adopt this abbreviation for the rest of the blog post.

How does BTX work?

Without going into the exact science, an injection of BTX effectively blocks the nerve signal from the nerve to the muscle affected. This causes paralysis of the muscle because the signals cannot get through.

This is a temporary blockage which takes time to come into effect fully and then wears off after a few months.

What about side effects?

With any drug there can be side effects. In BTX, these are related to the blockade spreading to muscles or nerves for which the treatment was not intended. As a fully trained aesthetics practitioner with a background in medicine, I take great care to minimise any risks to my patients so that they are unlikely to experience unwanted side effects.

BTX - not just for wrinkles

It's a common misconception that non-surgical aesthetic injections are only for smoothing away wrinkles - providing a non-surgical facelift. But in fact they can be used to gently temper many aspects of the face that can enhance your natural beauty. If you have any features that you would like to improve, simply book a consultation with me to discuss how I can help.

Grinding your teeth

Grinding your teeth or excessively clenching your jaw is known as bruxism. Habitually working your jaw in this way will strengthen the masseter (jaw) muscles. This can wreak havoc on your teeth as over a period of time the grinding will wear away the teeth, making them more susceptible to cracks, fracturing or cavities. You may also experience recurrent headaches from the over activity in these muscles. Giving BTX to the masseter muscles (the muscles around the jaw) partially weakens them, allowing your teeth a sigh of relief. The happy side effect of this is that your face slims out and becomes more heart shaped rather than having a very square jaw line.

A gummy smile

If you feel self-conscious about how much of your gum shows when you smile, this can be addressed with BTX. The problem is caused by a muscle lifting your top lip up higher than needed when you smile, and at Fountain of Youth I can remedy this with just two small injections that relax the muscle. Have no fear, you will still be able to smile fully and genuinely but with much less gum visible. A more confident smile, I’m sure!

Squinting eyes

If you have one eye or both that appear more closed or close the moment you smile for pictures. A minimal dose can open your eye/eyes up.

Brow lift or correction of asymmetry.

The neurotoxin that weakens or paralyses the muscles in the forehead can be used to give you a brow lift. When more than one muscle is involved in a movement and you paralyse the one, you leave the other to take over the work. So if we take out the muscle used to give you forehead wrinkles but leave the muscle that helps to lift the eyebrow, you are left with the overall effect of lifting your eyebrows. This may be particularly helpful when your brows start to sag and the excess skin is starting to encroach on your eyelashes. Or just give you a more beautiful raised brow. With a few tweaks this can be applied to soften brow asymmetry or even facial asymmetry.

Other uses of BTX

At Fountain of Youth, I offer one further BTX service that is not related to enhancing your natural beauty or preventing the signs of ageing, and that is the treatment of Hyperhydrosis.

Hyperhydrosis is a condition which results in excessive sweating under your arms, hands, feet or forehead. It is seen as a medical condition when it is excessive and impinging on your daily life and cosmetic when you choose to get it done for milder forms of sweating.

Suffering from excessive sweating can be embarrassing and cause unhappiness. I treat hyperhydrosis with injections to prevent sweating for several months.

I use botulinum toxin in my clinic to treat many concerns about your appearance, enhance your natural beauty and prevent aging. What is not so well known is that botulinum toxin is also used medically to treat a wide variety of other conditions, and your GP may refer you for them. I'll be blogging about this in the future, so sign up to find out more.

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