What is BOTOX?
The Botulinum Toxin (more popularly known as Botox®) is an excellent example of how potent substances can be good and bad at the same time. While this substance is deemed to be one of the most dangerous out there, it’s also a reliable treatment for many illnesses and ailments.
As it primarily functions as a neuromuscular blocking toxin, it can mildly paralyze certain muscles. It can reduce muscle spasms, correct eye conditions, and smoothen out even the most severe wrinkles.
And it is this last application which has made Botulinum a household name. It has proven itself highly effective in reducing to erasing the appearance of wrinkles, forehead lines, frown lines, crow’s feet, chin dimples, and nose lines. In some occasions, it’s also used to reduce the jaw line’s muscle mass to make a person’s face look slimmer.
The neurotoxic protein is injected directly into the problem area (skin). Once this is done, the muscle will no longer be able to contract, which prevents the skin from creasing and creating visible lines on the face.
Because it is administered by injection, it has become one of the most sought after treatments for people who want to look younger. This non-invasive procedure only takes minutes and the results are almost instantaneous. It doesn’t require the use of anesthesia, has no downtime, and is virtually painless.
However, there are also a few risks and precautions that users should be aware of. While deemed safe for use by the FDA, some patients may experience side effects.
- Bruising and bleeding are common, and in very rare cases, can lead to life-threatening conditions.
- Swelling and bruising can occur if the patient still has alcohol in their system.
Botox® is deemed as a highly versatile and useful drug that can treat many different ailments. Derived from Clostridium botulinum, it features the very same poisonous toxin that causes botulism – a life-threatening condition which causes respiratory failure and death. While it is one of the most poisonous substances out there, the controlled use of this toxin proves to be helpful in addressing various health concerns.
Today, Botox® is used to treat migraine, overactive bladders, various eye conditions, muscle contractions, and excessive underarm sweating. It’s also experimentally used in managing hay fever, cerebral palsy, anismus, and anal fissure.
However, it’s more popularly used in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This substance is available in the form of purified protein that is injected into the skin to flatten out the creases.
The way this substance works is quite simple. When injected into the problem area, it blocks certain nerves from functioning. It interrupts the production of the acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that causes the shortening and contraction of muscles.
This in turn paralyzes or weakens muscles so they become less stiff. In turn, those muscles won’t be able to create creases on the skin thereby reducing or even eliminating wrinkles completely.
Botox® is often administered on skin areas that wrinkles easily such as the forehead, in the glabellar region or the space between the eyes, near the corners of the eyes, as well as around the lips. It’s a quick solution to wrinkles, crow’s feet, smokers’ lines, and gummy smile among others.
Despite its effects, the public is assured of its safety as long as it is used properly. There won’t be any sensory loss in the muscles where it is injected. There have been no serious cases of the spread of the effects of the toxin from where it was injected, so there’s a very low chance of complications.
What is Dysport?
Dysport is a Botulinum Toxin brand developed in the United Kingdom during the early 1990s. This product is an alternative to Botox®, and it offers a different formulation.
Created to provide another option for treating neurological and ophthalmic conditions, Dysport is also a neuromuscular blocking toxin that features the Botulinum toxin type A or abobotulinumtoxinA. It is commonly used to treat muscle spasms in the neck, upper limbs, and lower limbs. It’s also used to treat a wide range of conditions, although, like Botox, it’s more popular in getting rid of wrinkles.
Despite being a relatively new player, Dysport has made a name for itself as it is more affordable and at the same time, it offers slightly faster (and longer-lasting) results. While both Botulinum Toxin products contain the same main ingredient, Dysport has less protein load than Botox.
Dysport also spreads faster thanks to its formulation. This fact is a double-edged sword, however. It’s a good thing because it gives a softer and more natural appearance to the injected site. Since the substance enters the muscle easily, it won’t cause swelling and won’t require multiple injections to introduce the toxin to a wider area. It also provides noticeable results in just a day or two.
However, this speedy spreading of the toxin can cause the substance to get into unwanted areas if the person who administered the substance is inexperienced. This can cause serious side effects like temporary blurred vision, breathing difficulties, muscle weakness, and in rare cases, botulism.
The composition of this product makes the dosage tricky to work with. So it is an absolute must that you go to an experienced medical professional if planning to get Dysport treatments.
On the flip side, Dysport tends to have longer-lasting effects. By having less protein load, fewer antibodies are going to attack the foreign substance in one’s system which in this case is the injected Botulinum Toxin. With fewer antibodies, the less efficient the body becomes in fighting off the infection. This will also take the body longer to get rid of the toxin which means longer lasting results.
Studies show that Dysport can last for 16 weeks or even a bit longer in some cases. Regular injections can also help the muscles unlearn its tendency to contract which can then reduce the likelihood of wrinkle formation. This can then require less frequent injections.
What is Xeomin?
Scientifically known as the incobotulinumtoxinA, Xeomin is another option for those who require Botulinum Toxin treatment. Just like Botox and Dysport, this substance is an injectable and is used to treat muscle spasms, blepharospasm, and severe frown lines.
While it also contains the same neurotoxin used by the other two products mentioned above, it’s unique due to its composition. Botox and Dysport are both formulated with carrier proteins attached to them. Dysport has fewer which allows it to function the way it does. Xeomin, on the other hand, is “naked.” This means it has no carrier proteins that can intervene with the toxin’s effects.
To illustrate, let’s use M&Ms. Dysport and Botox are two pieces of M&Ms with different shell colors. Xeomin doesn’t come with a shell so it only presents the chocolate core. Some experts consider Xeomin as a “purer” form of the Botulinum Toxin.
Aside from being naked, Xeomin also goes through an additional purification step to ensure that there are no complex proteins attached to it. This explains why it behaves differently from the other Botulinum Toxin products available. Because instead of being swirled before being transferred into the syringe, the vial will need to be flipped. This ensures that every component of the protein is dissolved into the liquid.
With its composition, Xeomin is said to provide visible results faster. It’s also been found to prevent any allergic reactions. The substance becomes active as soon as it’s injected since there are no binders that the body needs to dissolve before it can work its magic. This means that the toxin can have immediate effects on the muscles, smoothening out the creases right away.
The low risk of allergic reactions is another major selling point of this product. Some people believe that the additional proteins added to Botox and Dysport can trigger allergic reactions. Nothing of the sort has happened yet but some think that it may. By removing the potential allergens, Xeomin positions itself as a safer option for those who may be allergic to certain carrier proteins.
Xeomin also doesn’t require refrigeration. This may seem like a mundane detail but it makes a good case for those who want something that is easily distributed in the injected area. This can also help offer a softer transition from the target spot to the areas around it.
Its naked composition also makes it possible for this Botulinum Toxin product to spread quickly. This is why it comes with the same precautions as Dysport. While both are relatively safe to use for cosmetic purposes, there are still risks of side effects like diarrhea, visual impairment, muscle pain and weakness, and shortness of breath among others.
Interchanging Xeomin with other Botulinum Toxins is not recommended. Because of its formulation, it might react with the additional components found in other products.
Finally, for those who have undergone Botox treatments in the past and have unfortunately developed tolerance to the substance, Xeomin may be an excellent option as it can still produce the desired effects of the neurotoxin.
Botulinum Toxin Procedures
Botox® is used for various purposes. It can help eliminate fine lines and wrinkles, manage facial pain and treat bruxism. It is also recommended to ease the pain of those with chronic temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders and orofacial pain. In cosmetic dentistry, it is used as an alternative to some types of surgeries.
The use of Botox® is relatively safe but it’s imperative that it be administered by a qualified medical professional to avoid any problems. Moreover, using the correct dosage is also crucial in achieving the best results.
The procedure takes a few minutes and no anesthesia is necessary, as the doctor will use a very fine needle, so the patient won’t experience any pain. Results can be seen in 2-10 days. You will be advised to avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs/aspirin 2 weeks before your procedure. Make sure to consult with your physician before you stop taking your meds.
Botox® may have side effects such as bruising, redness, or pain at the injection site. Sometimes infections, dizziness, and muscle weakness may also also occur.
Generally, the esthetic effects of Botox® injections last for about 4 months. After this time, another round of injections may be required to retain the effects of treatment.