Gone are the days when people were heading into their local cosmetic clinics asking for a dab of Botox to smooth out just their wrinkled foreheads. On the market for some 15 years with 800 or so reported uses we needed some help. Dr Jane Leonard tells TA Mag – If you think botox is just about smoothing wrinkles think again….
Botulinum toxin, or Botox , as it is commonly known, is one of the most versatile medications used in modern medicine.
Botox has been used for decades to treat a variety of medical problems. It is most well known for its wrinkle-relaxing effects which makes it one of the most loved cosmetic treatments in the UK.
However, the valuable effects of botox are not exclusive to smoothing wrinkles. It has been used for many years to treat a variety of medical problems from migraine, excess sweating (hyperhidrosis), to eye spasms (blepharospasm) and overactive active bladder.
Before we cover the advanced uses of botox, let’s recap the basics;
So what is botox?
Botulinum toxin A is a naturally occurring protein produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.
Botox is a brand name given to the purified form of botulinum toxin A. There are other brands of botulinum toxin A commercially available including Azzalure, Dysport and Xeomin.
How does botox work?
Botox is a neurotoxin. This means it blocks the message between a nerve and a muscle. In the case of wrinkles; wrinkles are reflections in the skin of movement of the muscle below, for example frowning. All wrinkles start as dynamic, meaning that they are only visible when the facial expression is made. With time, the lines and wrinkles become static, which means they are present regardless of facial movement.
When botulinum toxin is injected into facial muscles it blocks the message from a nerve to the facial muscles, which is carrying the signal from the brain telling the muscle to move.
With less movement of the facial muscles brings less wrinkling of the skin at the surface. This gives the desired effect of smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles. It was has the anti-aging benefit, as when the muscles move less, less wrinkles form, therefore an anti-ageing benefit is also achieved. Win win situation.
Botox is traditionally use to smooth lines and wrinkles in the upper third of the face; Frown lines, forehead lines and crows feet.
Botox is available on the NHS for the treatment for the chronic migraine, excessive sweating and overactive bladder.
The masseter muscles are the primary chewing muscles, referred to as the muscles of mastication. They are found at the sides of the jaw just behind the cheeks. They allow us just to chew food, clench our jaw and grind our teeth.
In some cases the masseter muscles can become over-developed, known as master muscle hypertrophy. This occurs when the muscles are repeatedly used to grind the teeth and clench the jaw. This is known as bruxism and is often caused psychological stress.
Excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching can lead to a condition known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, (TMD) which is often associated with tension headaches, jaw and facial pain.
For many years injections of botox into the masseter muscles has been used to effectively treat bruxism and TMD.
Reducing the muscular activity of the masseter muscles using botox, not only reduced facial pain and teeth grinding, it also had the side effect of softening and defining the contour of the jawline at the same time.
This outcome has lead to masseter muscle treatment using botox to be a recognised cosmetic procedure to soften a square or harsh jawline to create a soft and smooth jaw angle.
“Nefertiti neck lift”
Botox treatment of the master muscles can often be combined with treatment of the neck and jowls, this known as the “Nefertiti neck lift”. It is named after the famous youthful jawline of the Egyptian queen, the Nefertiti neck lift involves injections of botulinum toxin into the lower jaw and neck line.
As we age, our skin naturally looses elasticity, volume and hydration. This combined with the effects of gravity, causes the skin around the neck and jawline to sag and droop, and jowls begin to form. Micro -injections of botox into the thin sheet like muscle of the neck called the Platysma, can tighten the skin of the neck and in turn reduce the undesirable appearance of a “turkey neck”.
The overall effect; the jawline is tightened and refined, and the neck is lifted.
Botox for migraine
Botox has been used for many years to treat migraines. Migraine is a specific type of headache; it is often throbbing pain associated with nausea, vomiting, and intolerance of bright lines (photophobia). There may are also be warning symptoms which are known as “aura”.
The exact mechanism of action is not entirely clear. Some of the theories put forward include;
- Botox relaxes muscles of the face and scalp therefore relieving tension
- Botox may reduce the ability of nerves to send pain signals to the brain.
The effects are achieved by injecting botox into specific sites of the forehead and scalp.
Botox for excess sweating (hyperhidrosis)
Another popular treatment using botox is for excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis. Botox is injected into the skin of the under arm area. It works by blocking nerve endings in the sweat glands which reduces the amount of sweat they produce by temporarily blocking nerve signals from the brain.
Like with all other treatments with botox, the effects gradually wear off and your sweat glands return to their normal state. Regular tops help keep excess sweating at bay for longer periods.
From wrinkle smoothing, jawline softening, neck -line lifting, migraine soothing and sweat-busting there is not much not to love amount botox!
About DR JANE LEONARD, MBCHB. BSC HONS (1ST ) MRCGP
Dr Jane is a fully qualified GP and Aesthetic doctor. Jane completed her medical training at the University of Manchester. As well as her medical degree she also achieved a first class honours degree in Anatomical Sciences, in which she focussed her studies on the anatomy of the face, head and neck.
During her medical training Jane developed an interest in dermatology. After qualifying in 2007, Jane chose to move to Australia to develop her dermatology interest further.
On her return to the UK, Dr Jane completed her aesthetic training on London’s Harley Street and holds clinics both in London and the North West. Dr Jane splits her clinical work between GP practice and aesthetic medicine. Book for your private consultation with Dr Leonard HERE Follow her on Twitter @_drjane