by Janine McGarvey, RN

Botox is a neurotoxin.
Big word. Neuro. Toxin.

Neuro, meaning related to the nerves (wouldn’t it be great if we could use it when the kids are relentlessly screaming Moooooommmmmm for the umpteenth time in an hour getting on our very. last. nerve.?).

Toxin meaning, well….toxic. Now does toxic mean death toxic? Nooooo nooo no. Toxic as in debility, disabilizing. Read on before you get freaked out totally, its safe in limited quantities. Must be, the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA approved it for use. Also, I’ve used it myself, ON myself.

The generic name for Botox is OnabotulinumtoxinA. Yes, botulism. However, in purified form, and in the teeniest tiniest strength. It comes in powder form, and I tell you, such a small quantity that I have to look super hard in the vial to see it, turning and twisting it and getting the vial in the right light. It is mixed with a preservative saline solution in order to inject it, as the powder itself cannot be injected without a delivery method.

Now, HOW does it work????

Here we go…

First we need to understand how the nerves work. Central control, or your brain, sends a signal to the nerves. The nerves in turn, deliver a message to the muscles via a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine received by the muscle, message received, muscle moves. Botox works by disrupting the messenger system. Ok got it?

No? Think of it like this….. The nerve sends a messenger on a bus to tell the muscle to move. The messenger can’t get to the muscle because the bus has a flat tire. The muscle is unable to move without the signal. AAA has been called to fix the bus, but they aren’t able to get there for three or four months. After that the transit system will be up and running again and the muscle will move as per the command from central control. That would be when you need another round of Botox.

So why does inhibiting my muscles from moving equate to less wrinkles. Have you ever folded a piece of paper in half a hundred million times? Now try to smooth it out again. Any luck? Didn’t think so. Not that skin is paper, it has things like collagen, elastin, and fluids beneath it to give it bounce. But….if you decrease the movements, you decrease the lines that eventually will be so deep even Botox can’t help.

So why do so many pre-Botox photos look like the patients are trying to make wrinkles? Because they are. Trying. Hard. They are showing you how strong their muscles are. It’s the after photos that show the results. In the after photos they are trying just as hard to make that same movement. They can’t, or not as much anyway depending on how much movement the patient desires. Oh yeah, Botox doesn’t give you frozen face, that’s all dependent on the skill of the injector, the technique used, and the amount of Botox used. Which reminds me…..if you get nothing out of this blog, get this… Use a skilled and qualified injector. Always. Check credentials, check photos, ask for patient testimonials, and don’t trust an injector just because they tell you they’re good. You’ll be living with their work for three to four months.

This blog is not intended to be all inclusive, visit Allergan Pharmaceuticals for indepth knowledge and side effects of Botox Cosmetic.