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What are Neurotoxins and how can they be used?

Recently, I have noticed an increase in Botox injections among my friends. According to The American Society of Plastic Surgeons muscle relaxant treatments have seen a 459% increase in use from 2000 to 2021, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons . Botox is the most widely discussed neurotoxin. However, I discovered that there are many other neurotoxin options that can be used for medical and cosmetic purposes. Botox and Dysport are the most well-known formulations. However, they all serve the same purpose but have slightly different chemical compositions.

My first treatment was for medical reasons. I had suffered from TMJ since childhood. TMJ (temporomandibular disorders) refers to a disorder of jaw muscles (masseters), jaw joints (connecting mandible, temporal bones of jaw), and nerves around jaw. This disorder can cause jaw pain, headaches, and grinding of teeth. There is no cure. My doctor recommended that I undergo chemical denervation with my masseters to ease some tension. This is a common treatment for patients with TMJ. Although I was initially hesitant about the idea of receiving what was primarily a cosmetic treatment at 19 years old, I was reassured that it was a medical treatment.

After years of having my masseters injected I finally lost my initial fear and got the real thing in my forehead to prevent the formation of wrinkles. Through years of receiving neuromodulator injections, it has served many cosmetic and medical purposes.

The science behind neurotoxins

Botox, also known as Onabotulinum toxin type A, is a neuromodulator that is made from a precursor of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. They can be used to treat many medical conditions and provide cosmetic benefits.

They cause temporary paralysis by blocking the release of Acetylcholine from the muscle they are injected with. This neurotransmitter is responsible for signaling muscles at the neuromuscular junction to contract. The medication causes temporary paralysis in the muscle by injecting it. This results in limited muscle contractions.

The drug is administered with a syringe, usually 30-gauge, and in units. As with other drugs, there is no specific dosage. The recommended doses are based on the area being treated and then adjusted according to the patient’s needs and desired outcomes. The average dose for most areas of the face is twenty units, but this can vary greatly and may reach more than one hundred units depending upon the case.

The treatment area is cleaned and then the small needle is used to inject the muscle with a relaxing solution. Depending on the size of your area, the procedure takes between 10 and 20 minutes. The results are visible in the smaller areas, such as frown lines and horizontal forehead lines. However, the larger areas, such as the masseters may take 2 to 3 weeks.

What are the advantages of neuromodulators

Onabotulinum toxin type A was approved by the FDA in 1989 and can be injected intramuscularly or intradermally. It is now used as a common treatment for many medical conditions and cosmetic procedures.

They are most well-known for their ability to prevent and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, but there are many other cosmetic and medical uses.

Cosmetic Uses

Wrinkle Prevention and Reduction

The medicine causes temporary muscle paralysis by injecting it into the muscle. This relaxes the muscle and restrains its contractions. Constant muscle contractions can cause wrinkles in the face.

For example, our frontalis muscles raise our eyebrows. This solution can be injected into the frontalis muscles to reduce its contractions, which will limit how much we can raise our eyebrows, and thus, reduce horizontal lines that are formed by frequent eyebrow raising. These formulations can be used to reduce wrinkles and prevent them from forming.

The areas that can be treated for wrinkles on the face are the horizontal lines along the forehead, frown lines in between the eyebrows, and crow’s feet surrounding the eyes.

Turkey neck prevention

Turkey neck is caused by stretched skin due to flexion of the platysmal band in the neck. The platysmal bands are the vertical cords that protrude from your neck during intense exercise. The compound relaxes the platysma muscles, which reduces outward protrusion and decreases chances of skin stretching.

Jaw slimming

For jaw slimming, muscle inhibitors are frequently injected into the masseter (the same ones used to treat TMJ). Masseters can become hypertrophic (larger) when they are stressed. This is just like how any muscle grows after it has been trained. The masseters will feel more relaxed when the formulation is injected. This reduces their size.

Lip Flip

A Lip flip is a minor (illusional) lip enhancement. It involves injecting a few (5-10) units of Botox into the orbicularis muscle, which is located above the lip. The top lip is pulled slightly upwards, making it appear slightly larger.

Gummy Smile

Gummy smiles are when you have a large portion of your gums visible while smiling with your teeth. The muscle relaxer is injected above your corners into the zygomaticus minor muscle. This will cause the top lip to pull down, leaving you with a less ot a gummy smile.

Uses for Medical Purposes

TMJ, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), and chronic migraines are some of the common medical conditions that this compound can be used to treat.

TMJ (temporomandibular disorder)

TMJ is a condition that affects the jaw muscles (masseters), the temporomandibular joint, which connects the mandible to the temporal bones of your jaw and the nerves surrounding the jaw. TMJ is characterised by jaw pain, jaw soreness and headaches as well as grinding of the teeth.

These muscle inhibitors can be injected into the muscles to relieve tension and cause the side effects mentioned above. This is the only treatment for TMJ.

Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)

Hyperhidrosis refers to a condition where a person’s sweating is excessive, especially in the hands, feet and underarms. It is not usually related to heat or exercise. Hyperhidrosis is caused by excessive nerve activity that signals your sweat glands produce sweat. Botulinum-derived agents are used to treat hyperhidrosis by injecting into the affected areas.

Chronic migraines

According to studies that show neurotoxins can reduce chronic migraines, doctors believe that injections of this numbing substance into muscles at the temples, foreheads, backs of the head, neck, and temples could result in neurotransmitters being blocked. A treatment plan that works well includes multiple injections of the solution to these areas every three months.

What are the risks?

Injection of this drug usually has minimal side effects and risks. A person may experience some minor swelling and bruising after injection. These symptoms will disappear within 2 to 3 days. There are also other possible side effects and risks.

  • Headaches
  • Asymmetry or droopy eyes
  • Eye dryness and excessive tears
  • Blurred vision

A rare form of poisoning known as Botulism may occur if you take too much muscle relaxer. However, it is almost impossible to get this condition with the approved treatments.

Botulism can cause difficulty swallowing, speaking, and even paralysis or death. This would require the solution to enter the bloodstream in large amounts, which is why it’s so rare.

Are neurotoxins for me?

Any healthy adult can benefit from neuromodulators. Consult with a doctor to determine if you are a suitable candidate.

Botox injections are something I have done, but I wouldn’t have considered it if my doctor had not recommended them to me for my TMJ. I feel confident getting Botox injections for both cosmetic and medical purposes. Personally, I have not experienced any side effects. These can be very beneficial when used properly. It is important to find a trusted doctor to perform the treatment correctly and give you the results you desire.

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