Getting Botox treatments is becoming more and more common these days. What was once a procedure shrouded in mystery and scandal is now all over social media. It is also more likely that your friend or family member won’t be shy about broadcasting their latest treatment (or suggesting that you need the treatment too!). However, before you jump on the “Botox bandwagon,” let’s talk about what Botox actually does and how it became the world’s fastest growing cosmetic procedure.

Botox aka botulinum toxin type A is a medication that temporarily weakens muscles. It is administered by an injection directly into a specific muscle. Once injected, it blocks the release of acetylcholine from the nerve inside the muscle which prevents the muscle from contracting. If you think it sounds pretty wild that something like this was developed for cosmetic treatments, you’d be right!

As early as the late 1970s, Botox was used by ophthalmologists as a treatment for eye disorders such as strabismus and blepharospasm. Twenty years later, Dr. Alastair Carruthers, a dermatologist, and his wife Dr. Jean Carruthers, an ophthalmologist, first reported cosmetic uses of Botox. I recall hearing Dr. Jean Carruthers speak at a conference a few years back as she retold the story of how she and her husband discovered the cosmetic utility of Botox. One of her patients reported that her wrinkles improved when her forehead was treated with Botox and asked to have the same area treated at repeat visits. At the time, her husband, a dermatologist, noted that there were limitations to treating forehead lines with the current treatments. The duo teamed up and started testing out their theory that Botox could be used to improve wrinkles. Their research led to Botox getting approved for cosmetic use for treating the glabellar “the eleven lines”, which are the vertical lines between the brows.

Now, Botox is used cosmetically to treat many areas of the face and neck. In addition to cosmetic treatments, uses of Botox have expanded to treat other medical conditions. It is FDA approved for the treatment of overactive bladder, urinary incontinence, migraines, spasticity, cervical dystonia, and excessive sweating in the armpit.

So while Botox has certainly come to the mainstream it is important to remember Botox is a medical treatment and should be administered by a trained professional, specifically a board-certified dermatologist. If you are interested in learning more about Botox or getting a treatment for yourself, click here to schedule an appointment.