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Botox: Uses, Surprising Benefits, Side Effects And Long-term Effects

| Reviewed By Arya Krishnan

There isn't many who have not heard of the word 'botox.' If you are one who keeps up with the entertainment industry, botox is something you may have heard in passing. Apart from the generally judgemental tone used in describing the product, botox has several benefits up its sleeve.

In this article, we will explore what is botox and botox injections. Let's take a look.


What Is Botox? What Are Botox Injections?

Botox is a famous non-surgical cosmetic treatment, which contains botulinum toxin type A, human albumin and sodium chloride. It is commonly used for muscle spasm control, severe underarm sweating and cosmetic improvement [1].

Botox is FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved for smoothing the lines between your eyebrows which are called glabellar lines. It is a protein made by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In medical scenarios, it is used as an injectable form of sterile, purified botulinum toxin [2].

Small doses of botox are injected into a particular region on the body to block the release of the chemical acetylcholine that might otherwise signal the muscle to contract, thereby improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by easing the muscles [3]. Botox is administered by injection and the dosing depends on the condition that it is used for.

Within a few hours to a day or two after the botulinum toxin is injected into the particular area, the spasms or contractions are reduced or cease to exist entirely. The effects of the treatment are not permanent, reportedly lasting anywhere from three to eight months [4].


What Are The Uses Of Botox?

Botox or botox injections are used for reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It is also used for treating underlying muscular conditions [5][6]:


What Are The Benefits Of Using Botox Or Botox Injections?

  • Depression: Some studies have pointed out that botox injections have helped people with depression. Botox may help relieve symptoms commonly associated with depression, where it is backed by the theory ‘facial expressions influence our moods' [7]. A study pointed out that of 74 patients suffering from a major depressive disorder, 52 per cent of those who received Botox felt the symptoms of their depression reduce [8].
  • Neck spasms: When injected to neck muscles, botox have been proven to help treat neck spasms [9]. A study pointed out that, Botox injections helped reduce chronic neck pain as a result of cervical dystonia (CD) [10].
  • Migraine: FDA approved the use of Botox for treating chronic migraines in 2010. The effects are supposed to last three months, after this time further injections may be necessary [11].
  • Sexual health problems: Botox may help people who experience pelvic floor spasms or vaginal contractions, which can lead to painful sex for women [12]. For men, Botox can help prevent premature ejaculation by delaying ejaculation.
  • Bladder problems: FDA has approved the use of Botox for treating patients who suffer from an overactive bladder and adults over the age of 18 can have Botox administered as a form of treatment [13].
  • Excessive sweating: Botox has been proven to inhibit sweat glands and manage the production of sweat [14]. It is used for people with Primary Axillary Hyperhidrosis.
  • Eye conditions: Botox is used to treat multiple eye conditions such as strabismus and blepharospasm. Strabismus or crossed-eyed is a misalignment of the eyes which is caused by the neuromuscular control (that impacts the movement of our eyes) [15]. Blepharospasm or rapid-eye closing is a condition that forces the eyelids to close [16].
  • Cold and sweaty hands: Botox is also used for treating patients who suffer from extremely cold hands where Botox is injected directly into the hand, where it relaxes the muscles that constrict the blood vessels (which is the cause of the poor circulation and hence the coldness) [17].

What Are The Side Effects Of Botox?

Although Botox injections are relatively safe, minor side effects such as the following are possible [18]:

  • Chills
  • Pain, swelling or bruising at the injection site
  • Headache
  • Redness
  • Infection
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Respiratory infections
  • Fever
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Uneven eyebrows
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety [19]
  • Dry eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Crooked smile or drooling
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Burning/painful urination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • When used in large amount, Botox can cause botulism, a form of muscle paralysis - which is usually associated with food poisoning. And in rare cases, one may develop botulism-like symptoms which require immediate medical attention and the symptoms are mentioned below [20]:

    • Difficulty speaking
    • Loss of bladder control
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Difficulty breathing
    • General weakness
    • Vision problems
    • Most side effects are usually temporary and should fade within a few days. However, drooping eyelids and drooling may take several weeks to improve as the toxin wears off.


Are There Any Long-term Effects For Botox?

The effects of Botox injections are temporary and most people get repeated injections over time. According to a 2015 study, adverse effects may appear after the 10th or 11th Botox injection [21]. Over a course of 12 years, the participants received Botox injection and the following long-term effects were reported:

  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Neck weakness
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Heart palpitations
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • General or marked weakness
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Hoarseness
  • Oedema
  • Note: If you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, the FDA recommends that you talk to your doctor before starting Botox.


On A Final Note…

It is very important to find out an experienced and expertise person for your Botox treatment. This will help you to know more about the need for a Botox injection and probably about any alternatives. The toxin lasts three to six months, therefore it is important to work with a licensed medical professional.

Like any other medical procedure, side effects are possible.

Arya KrishnanEmergency Medicine
Arya Krishnan