Botox injections have been used to treat facial wrinkles and other medical conditions for years. But when was Botox invented? Please keep reading to learn more about Botox, the discovery of botulinum toxin, the science of Botox, its benefits and frequently asked questions about Botox injections.
Botulinum toxin or Botox injections are the most common cosmetic treatments performed today in aesthetic interventions. Botox treatment is widely known as an anti-wrinkle treatment. However, the toxin is extremely versatile and improves various conditions, including chronic migraines, spasticity, blepharospasm, and overactive bladder, among other medical conditions. The narrative of how this toxin came into existence and is now being injected into the body is fascinating. From deadly botulism to treating wrinkles,Botox is now gaining insight, with new indications being approved almost daily.
What Is Botox?
Botox is a synonymous term for anti-wrinkle treatment that helps one achieve a young-looking appearance. While Botox is technically a brand name, the injectable is a form of Botulinum toxin (type A) derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum). Botulinum toxin is a protein neurotoxin formed by mature cells and spores of C. botulinum. According to Padda & Tadi (2021), Botulinum toxin is available in seven serotypes A-G, all prepared in four formulations (3 sorts of serotype A and one serotype B) for commercial use. Onabotulinumtoxin-A (Botox) is the most common cosmetic treatment for wrinkles and facial lines. Botox has also shown effectiveness in other health conditions. It is currently FDA-approved for chronic migraines, cervical dystonia, Hemifacial spasms, strabismus and other medical conditions.
The Discovery of Botox (Botulinum Toxin)
Jabbari (2020) discussed the history of botulinum neurotoxins from 1820 to 2020. Botulinum toxin was first discovered in 1820 by a German scientist, Dr Justinus Kerner, who investigated the agent responsible for deaths resulting from food poisoning. The research formed the basis for understanding the therapeutic properties of the toxin as used today. Towards the end of world war two, further studies were conducted, including the connection between botulism and C. botulinum. Botulinum toxin strains were discovered, and research concerning the purification of the toxin for therapeutic purposes was ongoing. In the early 80s, Botox was first used as a treatment for strabismus (crossed eyes).
Cosmetic benefits of botulinum toxin were discovered by chance when Dr Jean Carruthers, an ophthalmologist, noticed that patients undergoing eyelid spasm treatment showed reduced forehead lines as a bonus side effect. Wysong, & McBurney, 2019) stated that since then, Botulinum toxin oriBotox had been the hottest trend in the cosmetic industry.
The Science of Botox
Botox or botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin. A neurotoxin is a substance that acts entirely on the nervous system, more especially the neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical signals transmitted from the brain to the neuromuscular junctions, sending nerve signals to the muscles and other structures within the body. For example, acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter responsible for muscle contraction. When released, it binds to the receptors found in the neuromuscular junctions causing them to contract. In minute doses of botulinum toxin, botox inhibits the release of acetylcholine, thus disrupting the nerve-signalling process that induces muscle contraction. Botox tunes the muscles to remain relaxed, a state some call temporal paralysis. When the muscles become a less stiff and no longer contract, the existing wrinkles and fine lines gradually disappear until they are no longer visible. Botox works to not only eliminate the existing wrinkles but also prevent others from forming.
Benefits of Botox
Botox injections are widely used to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles and fine lines, helping you achieve a smooth and young-looking appearance. According to Park & Ahn (2021), Botox or Botulinum toxin was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a temporary treatment of glabellar lines. Besides, it is widely used for aesthetic purposes such as hyperhidrosis (extreme underarm sweating), body shape contouring and other non-invasive facial treatments.
Bach & Simman (2022) explained that Botox could also be used as a medical treatment for the following medical conditions:
- Hemifacial spasm
- Cervical dystonia
- Limb spasticity
- Chronic migraines
- Adult and pediatric neurogenic overactivity
- Overactive bladder
Frequently Asked Questions about Botox
What Are the Side Effects of Botox Injections?
Botulinum toxin injections have common side effects that vary depending on the area being injected and the type of condition being treated.
Side Effects at the Injection Site
Side Effects of Botox for Other Medical Conditions:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Temporary eyelid drooping
- Blurred vision
Who Should Not Get Botox Injections?
Not everyone can receive Botox injections. Patients with skin allergies or those who may be allergic to ingredients in the injectable should not use Botox. Patients with extremely weak muscles, very thick skin or an infection in the area to be injected can also not receive Botox injections. Pregnant and breastfeeding patients should also not get Botox injections. Although Botox injections are safe, their dangers and efficacy on pregnant and breastfeeding patients have not been well-studied. There is still no robust evidence to support the impacts of using Botox while pregnant or breastfeeding.
What Should I Avoid After Botox?
Botox treatments are non-invasive and require no downtime after the procedure. However, there are certain things patients should avoid for them to get the best out of Botox. They include:
- Intense workouts and strenuous activities
- Extreme heat
- Other facial treatments
- Blood thinning medicines
- Touching the injected area
- Lying or sleeping on the side you have received the injection
- Applying ice on the injected site
Since the discovery of botulinum toxin, Botox has been used extensively as a cosmetic and medical treatment to manage several indications. The discovery made by Dr Jean opened an insight into modern cosmetic and clinical applications of Botulinum toxin. If you are considering getting Botox injections for the first time, ensure you consult a qualified aesthetician to guide you through the procedure. Full knowledge of the injection, potential risks, and other considerations helps you assess your progress as you continue with the treatment. Furthermore, sticking to the doctor’s aftercare instructions minimizes the risks of adverse effects and helps you achieve optimal results.
Bach, K., & Simman, R. (2022). The Multispecialty Toxin: A Literature Review of Botulinum Toxin. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open, 10(4).
Jabbari, B. (2020). The History of Botulinum Neurotoxins: From 1820 to 2020. In Botulinum Toxin Treatment in Surgery, Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine (pp. 1-13). Springer, Cham.
Padda, I. S., & Tadi, P. (2021). Botulinum toxin. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.
Park, M. Y., & Ahn, K. Y. (2021). Scientific review of the aesthetic uses of botulinum toxin type A. Archives of Craniofacial Surgery, 22(1), 1.
Wysong, A., & McBurney, E. (2019). How to succeed in dermatologic surgery. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, 5(1), 27-29.