B otox: what is hidden behind this word, which became so deeply ingrained in the list of services of cosmetology centers? The term “Botox” was registered by the American company Allergan, and now it has become a catch-all term for all medical products and cosmetic procedures based on botulinum toxin, including analogues. The cosmetic procedure called Botox means intramuscular administration of botulinum toxin preparations in order to block the neuromuscular transmission and, consequently, the relaxation of these muscles.

Botulinum toxin, which is an active ingredient of Botox, is a type A neurotoxin which is derived from Clostridium botulinum bacteria; that’s the strongest organic poison among organic toxins known to science and one of the most poisonous substances. In nature, these microorganisms live in anaerobic, i.e., without oxygen, conditions; for example, in canned food or in meat that has not undergone sufficient heat treatment. When ingested, they cause a serious and deadly infectious disease called botulism.

It’s characterized by damage to the nervous system, muscle spasms and acute respiratory failure. To the mankind, botulism has been known since ancient times: thus, in ancient Byzantium, Emperor Leo VI forbade the use of blood sausage because of life-threatening consequences. The first documented sickness case occurred in 1793 in the German city of Württemberg. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, scientist Justinus Kerner made the first clinical epidemiological description of the symptoms of botulism and suggested that small doses of botulinum toxin can be useful in the treatment of hyperkinesis.

Since 1950, the ability of neurotoxin A to remove painful spasms has been used in neurology, pediatrics and ophthalmology for the treatment of diseases accompanied by muscle spasms, such as cerebral palsy, torticollis, muscle cramps, strabismus, blepharospasm, nervous tics, etc. Finally, the production of the drug called Botox acquired a commercial scale. Soon scientists paid attention to the consequences of interaction of botulinum toxin preparations with facial muscles and sweat glands. The fact is that the muscles of the body are attached to the bones by both ends, while the muscles of the face are attached to the skull bones by only one end, and the other end is attached to the skin. The contraction of the facial muscles leads to the movement of the skin; that’s accompanied by skin wrinkling, therefore, with aging, mimic wrinkles are gradually formed, such as horizontal folds of the forehead, vertical creases as a result of the brow furrowing, "crow's feet" in the corners of the eyes, etc. As we already know, injections of botulinum toxin drugs block neuromuscular connections. Muscle fibers, which has been exposed to these injections, do not receive signals from the nerves and temporarily cease to contract, therefore, wrinkles on the skin disappear, and the face looks smoothed. Botox injections are widely used to relieve symptoms of hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating: a drug injected into the problem area blocks the transmission of nerve impulses, and the work of the sweat glands is suspended. In the absence of reaction to external stimuli, the amount of sweat secreted is significantly reduced.

The industry of aesthetic medicine immediately reaped the benefits on these "side effects". Since then, every year the number of adherents of Botox grows exponentially, and often patients of cosmetology centers do not think about the consequences, nor about the mechanism of action of these "miracle injections". What causes people to be agreeable to the injections of the strongest nerve-paralytic poison of their own will? Make an injection and get a smooth face without signs of wrinkles; such a scheme of "eternal youth" may seem almost flawless. However, if you approach the study of the issue from a medical point of view, then there is a huge number of hidden hazards.

The fact is that Botox actually paralyzes the muscle, destroying the innervation; that is, it interrupts the signals transmitted by the nerves to the tissues and muscles. The drug effect can last from six months to a year. All this time the muscles do not move and do not work; hence, new neural connections do not form, and gradually the mass of muscle tissue decreases and loses its tone. Hypokinesis, which means a decrease in the volume of voluntary movements, as well as a general decrease and change in metabolic processes lead to atrophy of paralyzed muscles. By the way, the same processes occur with natural aging. Where is no motion, there is no life; immobilized, limp facial muscles can no longer hold its shape. The oval of the face is sagging gradually and a so-called ptosis is formed.

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Facial muscles, as we know, are directly connected to the skin, so they play a very important role in maintaining its matrix and structure. The skin above the paralyzed muscle does not grow younger, it becomes disaccustomed to activity and, as a result of disorders in metabolic processes, gets less nutrients. Nerve fibers and their endings not only transmit nerve impulses, but also participate in the regulation of metabolism. This is most clearly manifested in the protein synthesis of muscle fibers; the less the nerve segment is connected with the muscle fiber, the less it gets important nutrients for its metabolism. Thus, in the muscle denervated with Botox injections, the activity of a number of enzymes sharply decreases and the processes of decay of structural proteins such as collagen, reticulin, elastin and keratin are significantly strengthened. As a result, the skin interacting – or, rather, not interacting with the immobilized muscle, begins to age much faster.

In addition to undoubted harm to the body, many people, especially women, in pursuit of porcelain-smooth faces are used to forget about another effect of Botox's injections: the face becomes less expressive and looks immovable (amimic) even when talking to the most exciting topics. Moreover, the sensitivity of the injected area is decreased, because nerves do not work. Scientists have developed an interesting theory: in order for a person to be able to process and understand the emotional information sent by the other person in a conversation, he must reproduce the same emotions on his own face. For example, if we observe a smile on someone’s face, our brain perceives that as a manifestation of joy or sympathy from our counterpart, and we unconsciously want to smile back. Therefore, we try to understand the face and emotions of the other person better. But after the injection of Botox facial muscles are partially paralyzed, this disrupts the feedback of muscles to the brain and prevents the full response to the events around us. In the conversation, mutual understanding plays a crucial role in ensuring proper social interaction: failure to understand the nuances of emotions or sudden changes in the mood of our talk partner can reduce the effectiveness of communication or even destroy it. Thus, the inability to express emotions due to paralyzed muscles becomes the reason for inability to experience emotions.

Let us remind once again that botulinum toxin is one of the strongest poisons in the history of a mankind. Despite the assurances of cosmeticians that the method is safe, that administered doses of the drug are very small and highly purified, in February 2008, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States (FDA) described the fatalities associated with the injections of Botox. The American Academy of Dermatologists also noted that by 2003 there were data on 28 deaths related to the medical use of injections of this drug. It is considered "normal" if 1 to 5 percent of patients have light facial asymmetry, curvature of the mouth, overhanging of the eyelids or the lowering of the eyebrows. Doctors promise that these "little troubles" normally pass off in two weeks.

Let’s summarize. At the moment, cosmetic injections of Botox are elevated to the rank of magic rejuvenating treatment. The problem is that the popularization of this commercial method usually spreads to somatically healthy people. With long-term use of products containing botulinum toxin, patients undergo irreversible changes in the structure of the facial oval, as well as trophic disorders in muscles and metabolic processes in tissues.

We strive for youth, but the lack of facial expression makes us unemotional, and emotionlessness makes us older; we strive for the beauty of the skin, but violent medical interventions lead to a disruption of the natural balance. Therefore, the best way of rejuvenation is a system of self-renewal and regeneration of the organism, which is rooted in our body by Mother Nature. Those who seek to study these processes get truly stunning results with a prolonged positive effect and complete absence of side effects. The main thing is to make the right choice. And this choice is incredibly far from injections.

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