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How Botox works

Published on September 11, 2014

Ever wonder how those little injections can ‘erase’ wrinkles? Lets discuss a bit about what Botox is and how it works.

Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin are just different brand names of purified and standardized botulina toxin. Each of the brands has a different proprietary unit calculation, so when your physician tells you they injected 20 units of Botox versus 60 units of Dysport, they are similar in their overall effective outcome.

This medication works by being injected to the muscle responsible for causing the dynamic wrinkles. Once injected, the toxin is taken up in to the nerve. Muscles work when the nerve fibers that control them send signals via chemical transmitters. In the case of the muscles of facial expression, that transmitter is called acetylcholine and triggers the muscle to contract. The toxin actually prevents the release of this transmitter, thereby preventing the signal from the nerve to the muscle – the muscle is unable to contract. The injections usually last 4-6 months and the reason for this time frame is that the nerves develop new transmitters which overcome the blockage by the Botox. The muscle gradually regains it’s function. Now it is time for a visit back to your doctor for a touch up…

Where do we inject the Botox? Usually for the middle of the brow (glabella) there are two muscles responsible for the dynamic wrinkles. One causes the vertical lines and is called the corrugator supercilli. The other is the procurus and causes the horizontal lines at the root of the nose. In the forehead, there is a large fan-like muscle, the frontalis, which leads to horizontal lines. Around the eyes (crows feet) the orbicularis oculi is a circular muscle which helps you squint. The lateral edge of this muscle is usually targeted with the injections.

Botox is also used to decrease sweating and for the treatment of chronic migraines.

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