This is a great question. Last time we discussed what botulinum toxin is and where it comes from. As well as how it relaxes the muscle by stopping a special neurotransmitter being taken up, which in turn stops the muscle from contracting and forming wrinkles.
As the name states the botulinum is a toxin. So is it safe?
Botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin protein. Infection with the bacterium may result in a disease called botulism. The dose of botulinum toxin used for facial wrinkle softening is extremely small in comparison to the amount needed to cause a toxic effect.
Injections with botulinum toxin are generally well tolerated and side effects are few. As with ANY form of medication there are a number of effects that occur. There can be mild injection pain, localised redness at the injection site, slight inflammation, there may be a slight headache feeling later that day. The main adverse effect which can occur in 1-3 % of patients is a temporary unwanted action of the toxin on the wrong muscle group which can lead upper lid or brow ptosis. A Ptosis is a drooping of the upper eyelid or the brow. This can last 2-6 weeks and resolve back to normal.
To avoid ptosis a careful analysis of facial muscle movements is carried out by the clinician. This is why dentists often carry out botulinum treatment procedures as they have had extensive head and neck anatomy training that is required.
Botulinum toxin is contraindicated in patients with a pre existing motor neurone disease, myasthenia – gravis, Eaton- Lambert syndrome, neuropathies, history of reaction to toxin or albumin, pregnancy and breast feeding.
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