Health & Fitness

Freeze frame

Stop wrinkles and fine lines in their tracks, as we bring you the lowdown on Botox – the celebrity anti-ageing weapon of choice

If you’ve decided it’s finally time to do something about those deep lines etched between your eyes, or simply want to carry out a pre-emptive cosmetic strike against future wrinkles, then Botox is the treatment you’re looking for. But forget that Hollywood trend for face-freezing that left some of your favourite actresses and models with visages that simply stopped moving and expressing, because today’s Botox work is subtle, works with the face, and acts as a deterrent against the development of fine lines. However, the muscle-relaxing toxin is not only used to prevent wrinkles, and can also be used to stop excessive sweating.

Experts suggest you find a certified cosmetic surgeon to administer your injections, as every face is unique and requires different doses – something an expert will be able to effectively manage.

Here, Connector reveals everything you need to know about this wrinkle-taming tactic, so you can decide if Botox is the treatment for you…

What is Botox?
Botox is a compound made by bacteria, which is a botulinum toxin. It is used in very controlled doses.

When was it first discovered?
Botox was ‘discovered’ in 1987 when Vancouver doctors, Jean and Alastair Carruthers accidentally discovered that a toxin previously used by ophthalmologists to treat disorders such as eye spasms (blepharospasm), also possessed cosmetic properties when patients discovered their forehead wrinkles lessened with use.

How does it work?
Once injected into a specific area, Botox binds itself to receptors in the muscle, affecting the nerves within. So when your nerve releases a chemical to make a certain muscle move, it can’t and muscle function decreases. The wrinkle that forms when the muscle contracts then fades or disappears completely.

Are results permanent?
No. Your body regenerates the disabled receptors over time, so most users opt for regular maintenance. 

Where is Botox most commonly used?
Globally, the most common uses of Botox are around the eyes to reduce the appearance of crow’s feet; between the eyes to counter the ‘11’ – the glabella creases – and to erase horizontal creases across the forehead.

How about non-cosmetic use?
Botox has become a game changer for those who suffer from hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating. Injected into the armpit, Botox can stop sweat and odour for months on end. It has also been used to treat chronic migraines.

How long does it last?
When used cosmetically, Botox takes between one to 10 days to start working, and the effects last between three to four months – the length of time it takes the body to regenerate new receptors in the muscle.

What do the effects feel like?
Patients report that when their Botox kicks in, that they experience a tightening or heavy feeling in the injected area. It can also initially feel strange when your face doesn’t make the expression you’re trying to. These effects wear off over time.

What age should you start having injections?
While dermatologists have not set specific age guidelines as to when patients should start receiving injections, most are agreed that the best age to start maintenance is in the late twenties and early thirties.

What are its limitations?
It is important to have reasonable expectations from your Botox injections. It will not get rid of all wrinkles on your face – namely ‘static wrinkles’ – wrinkles which remain when your face is at rest. It can only tackle wrinkles created by facial expressions. For static wrinkles, seek advice on fillers or laser treatments.

Are there different variations?
Botox is actually a brand name, like Hoover or Sellotape, and there are different versions of the product. Dysport and Xeomin are two other neurotoxins that are used regularly – all come from the same strain of bacteria.

Should I avoid any foods or medications before the injections?
It’s always best to consult with your practitioner, who will advise you of their specific guidelines. However, most insist you do not use anticoagulants, such as aspirin and ibuprofen before a treatment as they interfere with blood clotting. Other MDs have also suggested avoiding fish oil, multivitamins, red wine, ginger and green tea for up to a week before injections.