As a dermatologist, I am often asked about Botox treatments to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Believe me, I understand the need to look your best, and I understand the desire to maintain a youthful appearance as you age. In fact, I’m all for it. But I think there is a better way than opting for Botox injections.
You see, there are some problems with Botox.
Botox is a purified, diluted form of botulism, a toxin. When it is injected into your facial muscles, it causes temporary paralysis of those muscles. The forced relaxation of those muscles reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Botox is not a permanent solution. In four to six months time, its effects will wear off completely. If you want to continue with your smoother looking skin, you’ll have to get another treatment.
Treatments range between $300 and $1000, so this adds up fast and Botox is not completely safe.
One problem is that the rules about who can inject Botox are pretty lax. For example, in Colorado nurses and some spa professionals may administer Botox provided a physician supervises them. The catch? The physician only needs to be within a 30-minute drive to be considered a supervisor. A poorly administered treatment can result in a lopsided look to your face—not what you’re after, I’ll bet.
Then, there are the side affects. In some cases, the Botox will spread to other muscle groups, causing them to become temporarily paralyzed. Some people receiving Botox injections experience pain, infection, nerve damage, or disturbances to their vision. After time, Botox can also make you look a little blank. You may recall some of the stories from a while back about frustrated Hollywood actresses who couldn’t control their facial muscles, as well after receiving Botox.
As you can see, there are a number of concerns and considerations to make before deciding if Botox is right for you.
In addition to the potential side affects, I think you should also consider the alternatives.
Topical Alternatives to Botox
In response to general concerns about Botox—not to mention its expense—many dermatologists have formulated topical wrinkle-relaxers. These work by relaxing your facial muscles rather than paralyzing them. The two most common ingredients in these formulations are acetyl-hexapeptide-3 and gamma amino butyl acid.
These anti-aging lotions are typically safe and effective, although it may be a few weeks before you see results. The good news is that as long as you continue using the lotion, the results won’t wear off.
I’m also a big advocate of good nutrition for healthier skin. By eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and choosing natural foods over processed foods, you can improve the overall appearance of your skin.
Finally, take a vitamin C supplement. Your body needs vitamin C to make collagen. Healthy, elastic collagen keeps your skin looking firm and toned.
If you are interested in improving the look of your skin, discuss all the options with your dermatologist before deciding if Botox injections are a good choice for you.
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.
Photo Credit: healthcareguaranteed.org