Botox 101

More than just a wrinkle freeze, botox is now being injected from head to toe.


A medical protein may well be on its way to becoming a household name. “When this agent was initially introduced in 1989 to treat eye muscle disorders, it rapidly became apparent that there was a cosmetic upside to the treatment,” Toronto dermatologist Dr. Fred Weksberg explains. Doctors recognized that this slight muscle relaxation effect could be useful in other facial muscles. Thus, the wonders produced by Botox have consistently multiplied, surpassing its reputation as the ultimate forehead expression-line fix.

If you aren’t well versed on the workings of Botox, here’s what you need to know: Botulinum toxin type A is a protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In a controlled medical setting, minute amounts of this diluted protein are injected into the muscle. This in turn blocks the release of a naturally occurring chemical in the muscle that signals contraction. As a result, the muscle is slightly weakened, preventing the overlying skin from compressing and producing frown lines, for example. The result is a refreshed, relaxed and, dare we say, youthful look.

“Many of the expanded aesthetic and anti-aging applications for Botox are garnering remarkable results among my patients,” Weksberg adds. While most opt to address frown lines, forehead lines, neck bands and crow’s feet, there is increased desire for non-surgical lifting in other areas of the face, including the eyebrows, the corners of the mouth and even the tip of the nose.

Another common use for this potion is to combat hyperhidrosis, which is excessive perspiration of the hands, feet and armpits.

If the thought of that doesn’t make you sweat with excitement, you should hear this: Botox is frequently medically administered for overactive bladder, lower back pain, jaw clenching and migraines. It’s also used, with varying outcomes, to treat the residual effects of brain and spinal cord conditions, and is being tested for its effect on stuttering, carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.

But before you get too excited, remember that the key is to find a qualified, board-certified physician who has extensive experience with the formula. Now that Botox is having a positive impact on so many conditions, it may soon be touted as the next Aspirin.