Botox is the commercial name of the drug derived from botulinum toxin, which has the ability to temporarily relax muscles. This is a product of the bacteria Clostridium Botulinum and can cause botulism, a type of food poisoning and muscle paralysis inhibiting breathing if ingested in large quantities which can be fatal.
Botox injections involves injecting small doses of the drug into the target muscle to relax them. These are popular in the cosmetic industry and are successful in relieving facial wrinkles. Botox is also useful in relieving muscle spasms in other areas.
Use of Botox Injections
- Facial Wrinkles: A small dose can be injected into the muscles underlying the skin to relieve crows feet around the eyes and forehead furrows.
- Lazy Eye and excessive eye twitching: This can be relieved by injecting the responsible muscle in or around the eye
- Muscle Spasms in Cerebral Palsy: The concerned muscle can be relaxed
- Hyperhidrosis: this is a condition of excessive sweating. Sweating is medicated by the same chemical which causes muscle contractions and thus botox injections can counteract this
- Cervical Dystonia: This is a painful condition resulting from spasms in the neck muscle.
- Recurrent Migraines: The frequency of headache episodes can be reduced with the help of botox injections.
- Hyperactive Bladder: This can occur in several neurological disorders. Botox is approved for use in relaxing the bladder.
Procedure of Botox injection
It is important that the procedure be performed by trained personnel as improper technique or excess dose can be dangerous.
The area concerned is injected through a thin needle and is usually associated with only minimal discomfort. If required, a local anaesthetic can be used to numb the area. Multiple injections may be needed if the area is large.
The effect of the botulinum toxin takes a few days to begin working. The toxin’s activity is temporary and wears of after about 3 months. Periodic follow up injections may be needed to maintain the effects.
Side Effects of Botox injections
Though usually safe in the hands of a trained expert, some of these side effects can occur and must be reported to your doctor.
Side effects at site of insertion
- Asymmetric facial expressions due to paralysis of facial muscles. This may be associated with drooling
- Drying of the eyes or excessive tears
- Bruising, pain or swelling at the site of injection
Side effects occurring from spread of the toxin’s effect in the body
- Generalised muscle weakness
- Vision disturbance
- Difficulty with breathing
- Slurred Speech
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of control of bladder and bowel
- Carruthers J, et al. Overview of botulinum toxin for cosmetic injections.
- http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug 14, 2018. 3. Botox medication guide. U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/UCM176360.pdf. Accessed Aug 14, 2018