The Facts About Botulism Toxin Facial Treatments

Considerable confusion surrounds the subject of botulism-related facial treatments, and many prospective patients are concerned about the safety of these medications. However, botulism-based treatments are very safe when performed by qualified professionals, and while the treatment does involve the use of toxins, live bacteria are not part of the treatment process.

The Bacteria Responsible for Botulism

Botulism is an illness caused by one of three different bacteria: Clostridium botulinum, Clostridium butyricum and Clostridium baratii. These bacteria are rather ubiquitous, and can be found in soil samples worldwide. When spores produced by these bacteria can find their way into a wound or a person's digestive tract, they begin producing toxins, which causes the illness.

The Medical Applications of Botulinum Toxin (BTX)

One of the primary toxins produced by Clostridium bacteria is called botulinum toxin (BTX). When exposed to BTX, muscles tend to lose their strength and essentially become inactive. The ability to inactivate different groups of muscles has a variety of medical applications, from treating chronic migraine to correcting problems with a patient's vision.  

Botulinum toxin has been used medically since 1973, when it was used to treat strabismus – a medical condition that leads to crossed eyes. Soon thereafter, doctors began using the toxin in a variety of other applications, including cosmetic procedures.

Botulism Toxins and Facial Wrinkles

When botulinum toxin is injected into one of several groups of facial muscles, it often causes the muscles to weaken greatly. This helps to smooth out the area underneath the wrinkle, leading to a smoother appearance. However, the botulinum toxin effect is temporary: Your muscles will eventually flush the toxin and become active once again. Accordingly, botulinum toxin injections must occur repeatedly to prevent the wrinkles from returning.

It usually takes about 24 hours for the results to become visible, and it can take up to two weeks for the toxins to achieve their maximum effect. Depending on the amount of botulinum toxin injected, the place into which it was injected and your genes, the results may last longer than 4 months.

Is Botulinum Toxin Safe?

When carried out by a properly credentialed plastic surgery professional, botulinum toxin injections are relatively safe. It is important to understand that botulinum toxin injections do not contain live bacteria. They are synthesized versions of the toxin produced by the bacteria. Several different pharmaceutical companies produce injectable botulinum toxins, and they market these products under names such as Botox and Dysport.

Typically, these medications are only administered in quantities that are a fraction of those necessary to cause serious illness. Further, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons characterizes the injection of Botox as "minimally invasive." Contact a company like Dermatology Associates PC for more information.