Botox (botulinum toxin)

 

Botox (Botulinum toxin, type A) is a kind of neurotoxin produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium and used in the aesthetic medicine as an effective and instantaneous method of rejuvenation. It has a paralytic effect and when injected into specific muscles (usually the facial muscles) it leaves them in a state of permanent relaxation that stops the formation of wrinkles and smoothes the overlying skin.

 The use of Botox as an anti-aging therapy started in 1992, although the toxin was known since 1882. The German poet and writer of medical literature Dr. Kerner Yustinus was intrigued by several death cases of his countrymen who had consumed sausages.

It turns out that the fatal outcomes were caused by poison with extremely powerful nerve paralytic action that develops in animals and rotten meat products, and through them can be transmitted to humans, causing botulism. Kerner was the first who discovered the potential therapeutic properties of botulinum toxin, when used in small amounts.

In 1897 the Belgian bacteriologist Emile Pierre - Marie van Ermengem found the real cause of botulism. From ham, that had killed over 30 people, he isolated a bacterium and called it Clostridium botulinum. The bacterium produced seven different types of botulinum toxin (A, B, C, D, E, F, G), 4 of which were dangerous to humans.

Over the next decades the study of botulinum toxin continued. During the Second World War different ways to use it as a biological weapon were considered. In the 50s and 60s some scientists concluded that in small doses the botulinum toxin type A has a prolonged relaxing effect on the muscles and can be used for therapeutic purposes to treat near-sightedness and other conditions.

Initially, it was tested on monkeys and after 1980 on humans. It was found that botulinum toxin type A relieved any kind of spasms of the face and the vocal cords. Therefore, in 1989 it was officially approved by FDA as a therapeutic method for strabismus and spasms of the eye muscles. That’s how the Botox therapy was born.

Few years later it was ascertained that it is helpful also in cases of excessive sweating and cerebral palsy. The ophthalmologist Dr. Jean Carruthers noticed that the skin of her patients treated with Botox becomes visibly smoother. She and her husband, dermatologist, published a research for the effectiveness of botulinum toxin type A against wrinkles. Based on that research, FDA approved it as a cosmetic tool for wrinkle removal in 2002, and 2 years later - as a remedy for increased sweating (hyperhidrosis).

Nowadays, the Botox therapy is widely popular and it is one of the most preferred anti-aging methods by show-business stars and wealthy people. Most often, it is used to smooth expression lines, "crow's feet", "brow furrows” and wrinkles on the neck.

The effect is visible day or two after the procedure and lasts for about 6 months. Then, the procedure is repeated and the effect lasts even longer. There is no danger of toxic poisoning in such an application, but it is absolutely contraindicated in cases of pregnancy and lactation. Too many procedures could permanently damage the muscles and lead to side effects that require surgery.