Botox: Miracle Wrinkle Cure or Dangerous Cosmetic Procedure?

Photo by: Flickr
Photo by: Flickr

Crow’s feet.  Frown lines.  The long, deepening lines that stretch across your forehead with an embarrassing speed and precision as you grow older.

If you are over the age of 25 and have spent any amount of time in front of your mirror lately, then chances are you have noticed the ever increasing number of wrinkles “building character” upon your face.

Sure, we all age and a few wrinkles can be expected, right?

While that may be true and yes, a handful of genetically-gifted people around the world DO age gracefully, the rest of us common folk are not so willing to simply lay down and accept the (shockingly horrendous little lines that keep appearing on our faces without our permission!) wrinkles we accumulate due to age.

If that’s you, then you have probably already heard of Botox injections for reducing wrinkles. Celebrities have been touting it’s wondrous effects at smoothing the skin and eliminating wrinkles, at least temporarily, for years.

But, is Botox really a safe, reliable way to reduce or prevent wrinkles?  Or, is it a potentially dangerous or harmful cosmetic procedure to avoid?  That is the real question you will inevitably worry about if you are considering getting the injections.  After all, we’ve all heard about the many life-threatening side effects that many modern drugs and pharmaceuticals seem to carry with them.  The last thing we want to do is risk our own health just to smooth out the wrinkles for a few weeks, right?

So, before taking the plunge, let’s take a close look at exactly how Botox injections work and find out how safe they really are, how much they cost per doctor visit, and if there are any viable alternatives out there in the marketplace today.  You know, just in case a needle to the forehead isn’t exactly our first choice in dealing with our wrinkle problem.

How Do Botox Injections Work Exactly?

According to MedlinePlus, Botox contains a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which is a toxin that more commonly and naturally causes a medical condition known as botulism, a sometimes lethal form of food poisoning.

In small quantities however, Botox can be used to treat some facial wrinkles, as well as underarm sweating, cervical dystonia,  and a whole host of specific neurological and eye maladies.

To reduce facial wrinkles, the toxin is injected directly into the muscles near the site of your wrinkles and facial lines.  The muscles relax or become paralyzed as the nerve signals to the muscle are blocked, therefore allowing the skin to smooth out again.  It takes roughly 3-7 days for the full wrinkle-smoothing effects to become evident and can last between 3-6 months depending on which expert you ask.

Are Botox Injections Dangerous?

Yes and no.  There are very few accounts of Botox injections directly resulting in a person’s death.  However, there have been cases where the botulism toxin had spread to other areas and indirectly caused dysfunction in people’s airways, finally resulting in respiratory failure and death.  That’s precisely why your doctor will always warn you beforehand not to rub your eyes or other injection sites.  Because the toxin can inadvertently be spread to other areas in the body and cause more serious health problems.

That said, some of the more common side effects or complaints of Botox injections include bruising, swelling, or redness around the injection areas, headaches, difficulty swallowing, allergic reaction, drooping eyelids, inability to close your eyes, flu-like symptoms, and of course the most entertaining symptom, inappropriate facial expressions.

Also, according to WebMD, you should consult with your doctor and possibly avoid Botox altogether if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you suffer from a neurological condition, if you have allergies, or if you take aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications, or drink alcohol.

Are There Any Safe Natural Botox Alternatives?

Ok, so maybe you’ve heard about all the Botox horror stories before.  The accidental injection sites. Or, physicians who may or may not “water down” the Botox.  Or, the $300 to $500 fee for each treatment. Or, the unfortunate woman who received too much Botox and will now be relegated to having a somewhat insane, yet surprised look on her face for at least the next 3 months.

If that’s not your cup of tea, then no doubt you are asking yourself if there are any reliable, safe, and hopefully natural Botox alternatives available to you.

The answer is yes. However, you should be aware that not all treatments that claim to be legitimate natural Botox alternatives have been proven to provide the same results.  For example, some acupuncture experts claim that facial acupuncture treatments can reduce wrinkles or sagging, primarily through improving the blood flow to your facial skin.  While this process could be deemed all-natural (if you consider hundreds of tiny needles sticking out of your face to be natural), acupuncture alone has not been clinically proven to provide Botox-like results as of yet.  In fact, it would take literally dozens of treatments on an on-going basis to provide any noticeable results.  The cost alone could be prohitive.

Other all-natural Botox alternatives include alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) such as citric or lactic acid, stem cell technologies, facial cleansers, alpha beta facial peels, and even applying fruit to your face for 30 minutes at a time.  The problem is, most of these natural wrinkle treatments deal exclusively with the skin issue alone and do not address the underlying cause of wrinkle creation, the facial muscles.  Without a safe muscle relaxant, the wrinkles will quickly reappear.

The good news is, there are companies who are currently creating wrinkle treatments that relax the facial muscles as well as improve skin tone at the same time.  One such product is Natox which uses a blend of all-natural ingredients to relax the facial muscles through a simple topical cream instead of injections.  In fact, the ingredients in Natox can also help reduce wrinkles caused by the sun. (Botox itself does not work on sun-damaged skin.)

So yes, there is hope for those of us who want to get rid of facial wrinkles safely, naturally, and immediately.  Just remember, no matter which approach to wrinkle reduction you choose, prevention is half the battle.  Keep hydrated, drink plenty of water, use sunscreen, eat healthy, stop smoking, and cut back on caffeine.  Simple tips like these can do wonders in preventing new wrinkles as well.