Saturday, April 23, 2011

Botox has become a household name over the last few years. What are the medical and cosmetic uses of this pharmaceutical and how does it works

Botox is the commercial name given to injections with botulinum toxin type A, a toxin produced by a bacterium that causes the food poisoning botulism. However, when injected in small doses, botulinum toxin type A acts as muscle relaxant (Mayo Clinic, 2010). Botox is injected a very thin needle, in tiny amounts into the skin or muscles. The Botulinum toxins block the release of acetylcholine and cause chemical denervation of the muscles. With the acetylcholine receptors blocked, when a nerve signal comes for contraction, the muscle does not know it has to contract. The effect of the Botox injections can be noticed in five to ten days and it lasts two to six months, until the muscle develops new receptors and is able to contract again (eMedicine, 2009)




Botox comes in two forms: medical and cosmetic. The medical type was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as treatment for cervical dystonia, strabismus, blepharospasm, upper limb spasticity, hyperhidrosis, and chronic migraine. The cosmetic type is used to reduce facial wrinkles by relaxing the muscles of the face. FDA has also approved the use of cosmetic Botox for temporarily treating frown lines between the eyebrows. However, Botox does not cure or reverse wrinkling, it is a temporary solution (Mayo Clinic, 2010, para. 2). The injections with Botox are relatively safe, but there are side effects, such as pain, itching and redness of the injected site, but also headache, nausea, temporary muscle weakness, an increase of body sweat, allergic reactions, and even botulism symptoms if the toxin spreads in other parts of the body (Mayo Clinic, 2010). 


Sources:
eMedicine (2009). Botox injections. Electronically retrieved from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1271380-overview
Mayo Clinic Staff (2010). Botox injections. Electronically retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/botox/MY00078

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