Botox – fact and fiction

For some, having Botox* injections are a normal part of their regular beauty regime and something they barely give a second’s thought. Others want to grow old as nature intended. If you are one of the many in the middle, who would love to reduce the signs of ageing but have some reservations about going down the non-surgical wrinkle injection route, then hopefully this blog will answer a few of your questions.

When we look back at photos of our parents and grandparents when they were in their 50s onwards, they look old, frumpy, tired and grey. Today, when we hit middle age, we are in our prime. Many of us look after our bodies by eating well and exercising. We care about our appearance and wear clothes and hairstyles that bring out our best features. As they say, 50 is the new 40… We may feel 40 but the trouble is that despite the money we spend on creams, lotions and potions, many of us still look 50 when it comes to our lines and wrinkles!

Why does our skin start to sag?

Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in our bodies and in our youth it helps provide plumpness and spring to our skin. As we hit our late 30s, levels start to naturally diminish, leaving our skin less elastic than it used to be. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do to stop this from happening. Dermal fillers are made from hyaluronic acid and they can be used to help replenish lost skin volume to add definition to facial contours, create fuller lips, or smooth out lines, wrinkles and scars.

Why do we get wrinkles?

This is quite complicated and we won’t get too ‘sciency’ but essentially, every year after we are 20, less collagen is produced and it is collagen that helps provide elasticity to our skin. In our 30s, fat cells start to shrink, in our 40s collagen is no longer produced and in our 50s, our skin becomes dry, brittle and damaged leading to increased lines and wrinkles. When we repeatedly use muscles in our faces, say to smile or frown, the skin no longer bounces back into shape and deeper lines form as we age.

As Botox is a toxin, am I poisoning my body?

The active ingredient in Botox* is Botulinum Toxin Type A. It takes just 1g of the pure botulism germ to make the world’s entire supply of Botox for a year – and the quantities used for wrinkle reduction are tiny at just a few billionths of a gram dissolved in saline. If you can get your head around this next number, you would need around 0.00007mg to kill a 70kg person. At a cost of £100 trillion per kilo it is also the most expensive substance ever made.

Will my face freeze?

While it would be possible, no reputable physician would ever inject the amount of Botox it would take to completely freeze your face. Practitioners must know exactly where to inject it and precisely how much to use, to keep your look natural. The effects of Botox are temporary, meaning it has to be repeated on a regular basis to remain effective.

Who can administer Botox injections?

There are very strict rules in place in the UK about who can administer Botox injections. This is because it is a Prescription Only Medicine and therefore can only be prescribed by a doctor, dentist or independent nurse prescriber.

Elan Medical Skin Clinics in London and Essex are led by Sue Ibrahim, a nurse consultant with full prescribing rights. Sue also trains and mentors doctors and nurses working in the field of aesthetics and is on the editorial panel of The Journal of Aesthetic Medicine.

If I have it too often, will it stop working?

There is a tiny minority of people who show resistance to Botox and the reasons why are unclear. To put this into perspective, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, Botox was by far the most popular non-invasive treatment in the UK with 45,464 treatments held in 2011. The second most popular treatment in the UK is dermal fillers, with 36,891 injections being carried out. It should be noted that the data does not represent a full analysis of the market, as it excludes non-surgical procedures by doctors, nurses, beauticians, dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons.

Do you have other questions? We would be happy to help – please either contact us online or visit one of our clinics in Essex or London to discuss any questions you may have about Botox.

*Botox is a trade name of the medication made by the pharmaceutical company Allergan. Other licensed pharmaceutical companies produce their own versions, such as Bocouture and Azzalure.