With over six million Botox treatments administered each year, Botox, or Botulinum toxin, injections are certainly the most popular cosmetic surgery in the world. Botox is used to reduce wrinkles and fine lines by paralyzing underlying muscles, though it can also be used to treat migraines, excessive sweating, muscular disorders, and some types of bladder/bowel disorders.
So, What is Botox?
Botox is made from a neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacterium called botulinum toxin. The bacterium exists in the natural environment in its inactive form, and can be found in cultivated soils, the forest, and in sediments of streams, lakes, coastal, or other untreated waters, as well as in the intestinal tracts of fish and mammals.
The bacteria and spores are harmless in their inactive form, but once they transform into vegetative cells and start multiplying, they start producing the highly poisonous neurotoxin responsible for botulism (a life-threatening illness) – botulinum toxin. The toxin is so poisonous that a couple of kilograms could kill the entire human population.
That said, botulinum toxin has been proven to be a valuable therapeutic protein when the dosage, frequency of administration, and variety of treated clinical conditions is put into consideration. It has medical applications to treat specific muscular conditions, as well as cosmetic applications for the removal of wrinkles by paralyzing muscles on a temporary basis.
History of Botox – Timeline
The bacterium – Clostridium botulinum – was first discovered in 1897 for causing food poisoning. Between the 1920s and ‘40s, scientists discovered that it was possible to purify the bacteria in crystalline form, and use it in small doses to relax overactive muscles and spasms. It was then used in experiments on monkeys in the 1970s, and then used on humans in the 1980s to treat eye disorders.
In 1989, the Botox substance was approved by the FDA as treatment for eye problems resulting from malfunctioning muscles, like strabismus (wandering eye), amblyopia (lazy eye), blepharospasm (twitching eye), and squinting. In the course of the treatments, eye specialists realized that when the drug was administered, the area around the eye seemed more relaxed and wrinkles less prominent.
In 2002, the FDA declared Botox safe for cosmetic use. So, it could now be used to improve the appearance of facial wrinkles under specific regulations. The effect lasts between 4 and 6 months.
The Popularity of Botox
By 2006, Botox had transformed into a billion dollar industry, and continues to be used for both cosmetic and medical purposes. In fact, it is expected to hit the $4 billion mark in the international market by 2018, with the US contributing about 50 percent. Its rapid growth can be attributed to the fact that is non-invasive, safer compared to surgery, and cost-effective, plus celebrities have relied on Botox injections to appear years younger on screen, boosting consumer confidence in the product.