History of Botox

One of the most popular and well-known anti-aging injectables available today, Botox is a name synonymous with a smooth forehead and younger-looking appearance. Used to address a myriad of health issues as well as for aesthetic purposes, Botox is derived from a magical little bacteria that started its journey as a villain, but is now the hero of men and women everywhere for its broad spectrum of therapeutic capabilities.

What are Dynamic Wrinkles?

When you look in the mirror, even though all you see are wrinkles, there are actually two types of lines found on your face – active (or “dynamic) and passive wrinkles. Botox works on dynamic wrinkles only, as it addresses muscle contractions vs. daily skin damage. Passive wrinkles are the ones that are a result of genetics and environmental factors, including thin skin, dehydration, sun damage and exposure to pollution.

These factors contribute to a more rapid breakdown of vital protein fibers found in your skin, known as collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are responsible for keeping skin firm and supple, but the fibers break down naturally with age. Coupled with skin that is thin or dry due to genetics and years of sun damage, you are left with varying degrees of fine lines and wrinkles across your face.

Dynamic wrinkles are caused by the repetitive use of certain muscles in your face, and appear mostly around your forehead and eyes, areas where your facial muscles are contracting all day every day, even without you noticing. When you concentrate, frown or look surprised, those expressions activate the muscles between your eyebrows, making the skin furrow into frown lines, or “elevens.”

Every time you squint or smile, the muscles around your eyes contract, leaving you with laugh lines or crow’s feet. Over time, these dynamic wrinkles gradually etch themselves deeper into your skin, and cause you to look perpetually tired or angry. So what can you do? Formulated to relax the facial muscles that lead to the formation of dynamic wrinkles, Botox may be the answer.

The Science of Botox

The clinical name for Botox is Botulinum toxin type A. It’s a purified protein derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, whose origins and discovery we’ll get to in a minute. Botulinum toxin type A is a neurotoxin, which means that it targets the nervous system – specifically, chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters are located at the intersection where your nerve endings meet your muscle cells, and they transfer nerve impulses to other nerves, muscles or other body structures. Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter responsible for muscle contractions, and it works by attaching itself to the receptors found in muscle cells, signaling them to contract.

Botox utilizes a very small dose of the neurotoxin to block the release of acetylcholine, thereby disrupting the signaling process of the neurons that activate dynamic expressions.

When your forehead muscles are no longer able to contract, the visible frown lines and crow’s feet are greatly diminished. If used on a consistent basis, Botox can actually train the targeted muscles to stay relaxed, which works to not only soften existing wrinkles, but help to prevent the formation of new ones.

The History of Botox

The discovery of the botulism toxin dates all the way back to 1820s Germany, when a scientist named Dr. Justinus Kerner was investigating the death of several people who died as a result of food-borne botulism. More specifically, Dr. Kerner was studying the neurological effects of the poison – muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, drooping eyelids and in some cases, paralysis and respiratory failure. His research not only helped understand prevention and treatment, but also planted the seed for using the toxin therapeutically, as we do today.

In the 1890s, further discoveries were made, including the connection between botulism and the bacteria that caused it – Clostridium botulinum. Seven strains of the botulinum toxin were found, four of which cause illness in humans. By the 1940s, botulinum toxin was considered to be the most dangerous substance in the world, and the U.S. was researching it for use as a biological weapon during World War II. Supposedly, pills containing the poison were manufactured, but the project was abandoned, and they were never used.

By the time the 1950s and 60s rolled around, scientists had been able to purify botulinum toxin A, and research began into using the purified toxin for therapeutic purposes. It was used as early as the 1960s to treat strabismus, or crossed eyes. By the late 1980s, it was FDA-approved and used regularly to treat crossed eyes and eyelid spasms, and its cosmetic advantages were discovered accidentally by an ophthalmologist. Dr. Jean Carruthers noticed that when patients were treated for eyelid spasms using the toxin, there was a bonus side effect of reduced forehead lines. She published a paper on the subject in 1992, and once word got out, Botox (as it was now called) became the hottest ticket in town.

Botox was FDA approved for cosmetic use in 2002, and since then, has consistently remained the number one nonsurgical procedure in the U.S. for the past eight years, with over one million people utilizing it for its rejuvenating anti-aging effects each year. Botox has also been FDA approved to treat several medical issues, including hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), chronic migraines and overactive bladder, just to name a few.

Contact a La Jolla Botox Specialist

If you have been wanting to see what Botox could do to refresh your appearance, but were reluctant because you were unsure of its safety, Umansky Plastic Surgery can help. We are here to ensure that your experience with us is not only safe and comfortable, but delivers the results you desire. Call us today at 858-281-4560 and schedule a consultation.