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Botox Background

Injecting botulinum toxin is currently the most popular cosmetic intervention in terms of aesthetic treatments. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than seven million people had injections of the botulinum toxin in 2018. Botulinum toxin injections are commonly used to address wrinkles. It is, however, important to note that this extraordinary substance is also effective for treating a wide range of conditions, including spasticity, migraines, overactive bladder, and neck rigidity. Botox is also used to address excessive perspiration. So how did the injection of this microbial toxin into the body start and become so popular? The origin story of Botox is both intriguing and coincidental.

What is Botox

Botox® is a drug produced by Allergan Inc. It is a member of the group of medications known as botulinum toxins derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. As strange as it may sound, many popular medicines, including penicillin and other antibiotics, which come from mould, have a source that is quite similar to this. While there are seven types of botulinum toxin (A, B, C1, D, E, F, and G), type A, also known as BTX-A and sold as Botox®, has been the subject of the majority of research done so far.

A protein made by the bacterium prevents the release of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is the chemical normally used to send signals from the nerves to the muscles to cause them to contract and relax. When the transmission is inhibited, the treated muscles relax. This, in turn, gives a patient with hyperactive muscles relief. It also eases their pain and spasms. In the majority of clinical applications, the effect is totally reversible and lasts for a few months, typically 3 to 4 months.

Injections of the "neurotoxins" wrinkle-relaxing botulinum toxin type A are the most common aesthetic procedure of the non-invasive kind in North America. Although often termed "Botox", the FDA has approved four different neurotoxins: Botox, Jeuveau, Dysport, and Xeomin.

Despite technological advancements, botulinum toxin remains the most efficient treatment. It produces noticeable benefits for a long time, works swiftly, doesn't cause excruciating pain, and doesn't have many harmful side effects.

The reason Botox wears out within a few months is because its ingredients eventually decompose into harmless substances called amino acids. The components that have been broken down are either utilized in other proteins or eliminated by the kidneys as waste. As a result, Botox either entirely exits your body or is recycled in a safe manner. This is the reason this treatment is very safe and can be used on children. Now that you understand what Botox is and how it is used, it is time to learn a little about its origin. 

The Origins of Botox

Following a botulism outbreak in Belgium, a scientist from Belgium by the name of Emile Pierre van Ermengem made the initial discovery of Clostridium botulinum. 10 Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, made their initial attempts to isolate the botulinum toxin in the 1920s. Dr. Edward Schantz did not discover the botulinum toxin in crystalline form for another 20 years, though.

Researchers first used botulinum toxin to correct strabismus in the 1970s (i.e., crossed eyes). Surgeons tested botulinum toxin A in humans, for the first time, in 1978. Alan B. Scott, MD, got permission from FDA to study the effects of this drug on strabismus. In other studies, the botulinum toxin was found to lessen glabellar wrinkles in monkeys. The skin between the brows and above the nose is known as the glabella.

Allen M. Putterman, MD, SC, took part in the initial FDA trials at the University of Illinois. According to him, early studies on Botox concentrated on treating eye muscle hyperactivity and blepharospasm. Researchers did not grasp the potential for additional applications.

The first company to license the procedure and brand it Botox was Allergan. They initially marketed the drug as Oculinum and did trials for indications which include cervical dystonia and benign essential blepharospasm. After botulinum toxin proved effective in treating strabismus, the FDA later authorized Botox for a number of medicinal as well as cosmetic purposes.

Here are notable dates of major FDA approvals for the use of Botox:

  • 1989: Blepharospasm and strabismus 
  • 2000: Cervical dystonia
  • 2002: Glabellar lines
  • 2004: Excessive sweating (Axillary hyperhidrosis)
  • 2010: Upper lip spasticity and chronic migraines 
  • 2011: Urinary incontinence 
  • 2013: crow's feet

Because it was the first microbiological injection used to treat sickness, botulinum toxin is likely the most notable substance in the history of medicine. The injection of bacterial products into the human body to treat conditions is, without a doubt, a novel invention. Since Botox is one of the most researched products, researchers continue to create more formulations of this adaptable drug every year and keep uncovering new applications for it.

It is, however, important to note that while physicians recommend the use of botulinum toxin in the treatment of various facial wrinkles, the treatment is off label. This means the physician will be using clinical judgment to use Botox to treat wrinkles.

Botox®s emergence coincided culturally with the start of Bravo's Real Housewives reality TV series. The third episode, which aired in 2006, featured a house call for Botox for the women of Orange County. Vicki Gunvalson and Lauri Waring Peterson, two housewives, were seen using the wrinkle relaxer. Initially, Botox was associated with shiny, frozen faces. It was the treatment reserved only for the super-wealthy. Today, the product has many uses and has achieved widespread acceptance across the globe.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that in 2018 more than 7.4 million botulinum toxin type A treatments were done. This is a whopping 845% increase from those done in 2000. According to the BBC, the figures hover in the neighbourhoods of 100,000 Botox injections each year in the United Kingdom. With these numbers in mind, it is evident that the world is in the era of Botox. Cosmetic injectables are standard practice for anyone who wants a youthful look. All that is needed is a few injections every year. When done by an experienced doctor, the effects of Botox look natural.

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