Questions About Botox: What is the Botulinum A Toxin?

Dr. James Yun

13 January 2020

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Questions About Botox: What is the Botulinum A Toxin?

Botox, Dysport, Xeomin: these are all commonly known names for Botulinum A Toxin, which is incredibly popular for use as a facial “wrinkle relaxer.” When injected properly, it will flatten wrinkles and turn back the clock to decrease signs of aging, erasing some of those years. Why would someone look for Botox? It can fulfill many people’s desire to be more attractive, helping with psychological well-being and confidence. It’s the most popular cosmetic procedure performed in the United States, in fact, in 2017, over 1.5 million Botox injections were administered, according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

How does a wrinkle relaxer like Botulinum Toxin work? Botox is a substance produced by the Clostridium Botulinum bacteria which can cause the condition botulism. Scientists, however, realized that when used in small quantities, this substance, which is a poison in nature, can have very positive effects for people. This contrary use of a toxin is not uncommon, though. If you think about it, the antibiotic penicillin is a naturally occurring toxin produced by mold, and the fermentation process in wine and beer is a result of the presence of bacteria. They’re all fantastic!

The Botulinum A Toxin weakens the targeted muscles for up to 3-4 months. With the muscles weakened, it is difficult to make certain facial expressions, which in turn prevents the skin over top of those muscles from developing creases. It also allows your current wrinkles to relax and soften. Following repetitive injections, and when combined with other skin treatments such as retinols and procedures such as microneedling, the wrinkles can flatten out and become much less pronounced, even disappearing. In younger individuals, the treatments can help to prevent the early formation of wrinkles, particularly in those with characteristically lively and animated expressions. A nice feature of repetitive Botox injections is that over time the muscles will become weaker, requiring less of the neurotoxin each time. This can make your periodic injections quicker and less costly. Don’t worry, when the injections are discontinued, the muscles will recover to their normal function, so the treatments are not permanent.

Remember to get your Botox injection with an experienced injector. Botox is not without risks and side effects. The procedure can cause temporary facial asymmetry, a droopy eyelid, and headaches. With almost 2 decades of experience as a head and neck surgeon, Dr. Yun has intimate knowledge of facial anatomy, and all of his staff are carefully supervised and trained.