Botox is considered a staple in today’s anti-aging treatments, but it is actually just one of several products utilizing a very mild form of the botulinum toxin—the same neurotoxic protein that causes life-threatening food poisoning in larger doses. Botox is actually a trade name but the term has been used to refer to products that use the toxin to correct wrinkling. The efficacy of Botox in smoothing out foreheads and laugh lines explains its popularity among men and women in their late 30s, 40s, 50s and even beyond. What is surprising is that Botox is also finding its way in the faces of women in their 20s.
Young and Botoxed
In Houston, Texas, women who go in for a session of Botox aren’t mothers, career women or grandmas. Some of them are even young enough to still be in college. Using Botox has become popular among the twenty-something crowd who hope to preserve their young faces by having their foreheads and brow and eye areas injected.
For many of these young patients, Botox can offer something that not even the best cosmetics can give. It’s generally safe, has no downtime and does not leave scars on the skin. It is an excellent option for those who fear the side effects plastic surgery or want to avoid its cost. Some consider Botox as a preventive measure, hoping to correct any skin issues before it worsens.
The Joys of Botox
The most important role that Botox plays on skin is that it temporarily paralyzes specific muscles on the face. Wrinkles form when muscles in a certain area of the face contract. Once this happens, a chemical signal is sent from a nerve to the muscle. When the signal reaches the neuromuscular junction—point where the muscle and nerve meet—the nerve releases a chemical known as acetylcholine, which then binds to the muscle and causes it to contract. Repeated contraction of the muscles causes wrinkles to form. Over time and with age, these wrinkles become permanent because the same muscles in the same area are involved.
How it Works
Botox blocks the acetylcholine receptors on the muscles in the neuromuscular junction, preventing it from binding to the muscles so that the muscles do not contract. It takes about three to five months for the muscles to develop new receptors in order to enable it to contract again. This explains why Botox injections have to be repeated during this period.