Botox, also known in medical jargon as Botulinum Toxin, is yet another of the newer controversial treatments centered primarily on cosmetics. It joins a preexisting and growing range of therapies from LASIK eye surgeries to liposuctions that promises quick, affordable, cosmetic fixes striving to satisfy rising demand in an ever-expanding consumer base. Once revered as the ultimate tool to maintain a youthful outlook, Botox is already the most common non-surgical cosmetic procedure performed in the United States.
Apart from numerous minor uses from as a painkiller to a relaxant for several specific disorders, Botox’s principal use is inevitably cosmetic. Botox injections boast of the ability to smoothen facial frown lines and effectively remove dreaded wrinkles and crows feet for extended periods of time (up to six months) for a mere procedure lasting no longer than ten minutes.
Fundamentally, Botox works through a form of selective muscle denervation: By selectively blocking nerve signals to certain facial muscles, it essentially paralyzes specific muscles and prevents them from contracting and hence causing wrinkles. And it does all that without dealing any permanent nerve damage, thus producing the ‘miraculous’ cosmetic effect.
Frown lines and brow furrows, once damning evidence of old age, can thus be erased with a quick and simple procedure. Beauty and self-confidence, specific traits especially treasured by the fairer sex, can seemingly be restored for a price varying around a national average of four hundred dollars – arguably a pittance for the miraculous effects produced. Indeed, everyone should want a Botox injection. Why not?
Wrong. In actual fact, Botox injections aren’t as safe or wondrous as profit-motivated physicians or capitalistic firms attempt to propagate. Interestingly, Botox is a neurotoxin protein actually considered one of the most poisonous natural substances in today’s world. It carries questionable risks of possible side-effects and even faces strong accusations of being linked to several deaths by the FDA. Reported complications from Botox injections range from, and are not limited to, nausea, headaches, hormonal issues, illness, dizziness, swollen eyes, slight to severe pain, among others. The high toxicity inevitably causes illnesses even in minute dosages, creating an uncomfortable sensation similar to sickness caused by immunization shots.
Also, while there has yet to be a general consensus within medical and pharmaceutical circles, few would deny the possibility that Botox injections may spread to other parts of the body. More importantly, this includes the muscles needed for breathing or swallowing – both of which would produce potentially fatal effects. Additionally, despite a general majority of Botox users maintaining that they are largely satisfied with the procedure, the cases of associated severe illnesses and deaths have sharply risen along the years, suggesting the possibility of long-term side effects that could prove disastrous for some.
Almost ten years on since Botox’s approval, it may certainly not be pragmatic or realistic to attempt to reverse the FDA’s stand and call for restrictions to be placed on it. Predictably, consumers who fully understand and appreciate the complications involved will still continue to flock to the needle in their pursuit of aesthetic perfection. Yet, what might be really more important is arguably to educate the average consumer before he or she undertakes the procedure. In essence, one must understand that a Botox injection equates to introducing into the body toxins so lethal that, if otherwise ingested through food or into the bloodstream through a wound, can lead to death.
How then can we reduce the risk of the dangers involved? Safety and medical advice from difference sources and fields often vary, but they essentially converge to the same opinions on several fundamental issues:
Firstly, always check your physician’s credentials! Ensuring that your physician is experienced and certified is an obvious point yet too often ignorantly overlooked and blatantly ignored. The financial incentives that Botox injections offer often lure physicians from non-cosmetic fields to cash in on the growing demand, causing serious issues when their lack of expertise and training cause medical complications for the consumer.
The next step would be to evaluate your own personal health. The safest bet would be to surrender your full medical history to your physician (after you checked his credibility) and ensure that you have no serious hormonal or allergic problems Botox could possibly be associated with. Additionally, make sure that you are sufficiently healthy and strong enough to overcome the toxic nature of Botox and the illness that it inevitably may cause.
Lastly, take the process seriously – even if it only lasts ten minutes. Have a good talk with your physician and learn as much as you can about the procedure and associated complications involved. Don’t drink before the procedure: make sure you know and fully understand what exactly you’re getting yourself into. It is also paramount to only start the procedure when the appropriate safety and medical equipment is at hand, and that medical staff are nearby to offer assistance if necessary. Minor issues like ensuring the needle has been sterilized are also worth double-checking.
Finally and most importantly, if you must have it, enjoy your Botox injection while it lasts.