We all recognise Botox® – or wrinkle relaxing treatments – as one of the world’s favourite anti-ageing treatments. And most of us will be familiar with the treatment as the number-one procedure for reducing lines and wrinkles around the forehead.
But it’s much more versatile. It can achieve remarkable rejuvenation just about anywhere on the face you’d care to mention. It also has many non-aesthetic applications in general medicine.
In this article, we’ll take a guided tour of the face to find out exactly where this treatment can weave its magic and take a brief look at its use outside aesthetics.
What Exactly is Botox®?
Botox®, or botulinum toxin, is a neurotoxic protein by the clostridium botulinum. In scientific terms, it acts by blocking the path between the neurotransmitters and muscles, effectively paralysing the muscles.
Sounds drastic. But when applied in minuscule amounts to targeted areas, it’s just these relaxing properties which make Botox® so effective against wrinkles, frown lines and other sign of ageing.
As it relaxes the muscles that cause facial furrows when we smile or frown, Botox® appears to smooth them out. And as the muscles see less use, Botox® prevents wrinkles from deepening, while also preventing new lines from developing.
Which Areas Can We Treat With Botox®?
We already know that Botox® works wonders on the forehead, where practitioners apply it to a set of specific muscles to prevent the appearance of creases and frown lines (glabella).
If we were to get technical, those muscles are the frontalis, procerus and corrugator supercilii – the three main culprits of furrowed brows.
Let’s take a look where else Botox® can be used.
Eyes and Brows
Crow’s feet is the name given to the series of lines emanating from the outer corners of the eyes.
They’re one of the first age-related facial lines, sometimes appearing as early as around our mid-20s. Causes include UV exposure and the natural loss of collagen as we age.
In the field of aesthetics, we call crow’s feet lateral canthal lines. They’re easily treated with Botox® injections to the surrounding orbicularis oculi and procerus muscles.
Botox® is also effective above the eye at outer brows, where it achieves a lifting effect to the eyebrow.
Here’s a little-known wrinkle you may not have heard of, but which you’ve almost certainly spotted at some point.
Bunny lines are the furrows which appear around the bridge of the nose when wrinkled. In anatomical terms, they’re given the much less prosaic name, transverse nasal lines.
Smoker’s lines appear right above the upper lip. When they’re particularly pronounced, smoker’s lines – or lip lines – can lend faces a dour or miserable appearance, even when you feel great.
And here’s the thing: You needn’t be a have a 20-a-day habit to pick them up, or even be a smoker at all. They occur naturally as a result of repeated daily muscle movement. To tackle these, practitioners target the nearby orbicularis oris muscles.
Marionette are more lines around the mouth, which typically make their first unwanted appearance in our 30s and 40s. They run from the outer corners of the mouth, down the chin. Named for their likeness to string puppets’ mouths, marionette lines can give faces a permanent pout.
To tackle them, we target the depressor anguli oris and trangularis muscles.
Chin and Neck
Though not all that common, Botox® can also be used to recontour the chin and smooth up chin dents by targeting the mentalis muscle.
It’s also effective against neckbands. They’re caused when the neck’s platysma muscles eventually succumb to gravity and are one of the most drastic, yet common telltale signs of ageing.
Botox® in Medicine
In case you weren’t yet convinced of its versatility, it is worth briefly mentioning Botox’s® many uses outside aesthetics.
It was first developed as a treatment for migraines after it was discovered that the nerve-blocking action mentioned earlier interferes with the activation of pain receptors.
Botox® has been successfully used to treat muscle spasms, especially after a stroke and for people living with cerebral palsy.
Botox® doesn’t just block pain receptors. It also prevents the release of acetylcholine – one of the body’s natural chemicals that stimulates sweat glands. It’s been used to treat sweating and hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) around the armpits, hands, soles and even the scalp.