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March 15, 2005 > BOTOX, Friend or Foe

BOTOX, Friend or Foe

by Linda Stone

BOTOX (botulinum toxin type A) has a split personality. Although concentrated amounts of these bacteria can be deadly, skillful use by competent medical personnel can tame its effects to smooth moderate to severe frown lines. Facial wrinkles and frown lines are the result of muscle contractions pulling skin in a particular direction due to stress, aging and expression. BOTOX paralyzes muscles and, in small doses, used judiciously, can relax the muscles causing these lines.

Pharmaceutical company Allergen first gained FDA approval for the use of BOTOX in 1989 to treat certain diseases of the eye muscle. Physicians began to notice that there were fewer wrinkles around the eyes of their patients. This phenomenon was presented to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and in 2002, Allergen was given approval to use BOTOX for certain types of wrinkles for frown lines, forehead lines and the sides of the eye (crows feet).

Since that time, BOTOX has gained popularity for aesthetic use. Visits to medical spas for BOTOX treatments have become the latest trend. Although the term "medical spa" may sound like a visit to the doctor's office, it actually connotes something very different. At these locations, such as Skin Laser Essentials in Fremont, women and men are treated to a relaxing environment and treatments with BOTOX.

"We are like a mini Bellagio health club," said Lynn Sahni, spa director of Skin Laser Essentials. The immaculate facility, located at the HUB shopping center in Fremont, combines relaxing music, beautiful dˇcor and a friendly, well-trained medical/esthetician staff.

BOTOX treatments are done under a doctor's supervision; registered nurses are present at all times. The FDA states that although there is no chance of contracting botulism from BOTOX injections, medical supervision is necessary. This ensures that injections are placed in the correct facial area and any adverse reactions are monitored.

A fine needle is used to inject BOTOX and the patient is instructed to sit up for several hours following treatment to ensure that it remains in targeted muscles. Treatment takes about 10 minutes and can be done during a lunch break. The result, usually achieved in about two weeks, can remove 10 to 15 years from facial characteristics.

A common misconception about the use of BOTOX is that recipients' facial features become "frozen;" unable to make facial expressions. This is not the case. Expressions remain, however they are not as pronounced as before treatment. In other words, you still look "natural."

The key to customer satisfaction is education, said Lynn Sahni. Unlike many places they do not sell potential clients, instead they educate them. They take a very conservative approach and everyone is given full attention. Walk-ins are welcome too and will receive a free consultation.

Although insurance companies generally do not cover aesthetic procedures, Skin Laser offers zero percent financing with good credit, making it easier for clients to afford, as they offer many other esthetic procedures as well.

The FDA states that although there is no chance of contracting botulism from BOTOX injections, there are some risks associated with the procedure as with mostly all medical procedures. If too much toxin is injected, for example, or if it is injected into the wrong facial area, a person can end up with droopy eyelid muscles (ptosis) that could last for a couple of weeks. Other common side effects following injection were headache, respiratory infection, flu syndrome, and nausea. Less frequent adverse reactions included pain in the face, redness at the injection site, and muscle weakness. These reactions were usually temporary and occur generally during the first week and go away on their own.

The effects of BOTOX last for about four to six months so maintenance plays an important role in keeping the wrinkles from returning, but many don't mind because part of the allure of the product is that there are no unsightly scars and little recovery time.

Today, BOTOX treatment is used for a variety of conditions. People who have problems with uncontrollable blinking (blepharospasm) and misaligned eyes (strabismus) were first to experience the drug's efficacy. And in 2000, the toxin was approved for treatment of cervical dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that causes severe neck and shoulder contractions. It is also approved for use in the treatment of uncontrollable underarm sweating (primary axillary hyperhidrosis).

In a study presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting in October 2004, BOTOX was found to help women who had mastectomies overcome the resulting pain caused by swelling by injecting the substance into the pectoral muscles.

Whether BOTOX is used for cosmetic reasons or to treat a medical condition, this bacterium has proven to be a friend, not foe.

Today many women and men seek out treatment for improving their looks and in turn sometimes finding out that it helps with self-confidence. After all, looking good can also make you feel good.

Skin Laser Essentials
39136 Fremont Hub, Fremont
(510) 793-2277
Toll Free: (866) 486-SKIN

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