The growing cult of botox

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The growing cult of botox


By Ms. Yusra Qadir

Ageing or aging (American English) is the accumulation of changes in an organism or object over time. Ageing in humans refers to a multidimensional process of physical, psychological, and social change. Some dimensions of ageing grow and expand over time, while others decline. Reaction time, for example, may slow with age, while knowledge of world events and wisdom may expand. Research shows that even late in life potential exists for physical, mental, and social growth and development. Ageing is an important part of all human societies reflecting the biological changes that occur, but also reflecting cultural and societal conventions.

One of the odd things about ageing is that although we know it will catch up with us eventually, we do not as a rule know exactly what lies in store. Some of us may keep our mental faculties largely intact. Others will suffer from dementia. Some of us will still be able to get about – others with conditions like arthritis will find it more difficult.

But in the world today we hear people saying that where growing old is mandatory, looking old is optional. Here we see many “options” and the most hotly debated option presently is Botox technology. Some advocate for Botox stating that looking young while being old is phenomenal while others say that a removing a few wrinkles are not worth sticking needles all over your face.

First, what is Botox?  Let’s wrinkle out all the misunderstandings and misconceptions about Botox…

It is actually a purified form of type A botulinum toxin which is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum (a bacterium that can cause gastrointestinal distress, muscle weakness etc). Initially the botulinum toxin was used to treat some types of facial paralysis, spasms and other nerve disorders when the specialists observed that small amount of it can cause a local paralyze of muscles (that are responsible for forming fine lines and wrinkles) which leads to the a much smoother skin. Today the use of Botox (a product free from the harmful bacteria) in cosmetics is very popular because it’s less expensive than others, has less side effects, can be repeated when needed.

What does Botox really do? First of all you are injected in the muscles that create the facial lines, it blocks the release of acetylcholine, the chemical that carries the impulses from the nerve ending to the muscles which stop contracting and make the wrinkle to soften and the skin to look more natural and younger. The results appear within 3-5 days from the injection. The “target” zones are the forehead horizontal lines, vertical lines between the eyebrows and on the bridge of the nose, the lines around the eyes. It cannot be used for muscles around the mouth because that will obstruct simple activities like smiling, eating, laughing.

Botox is short for “botulinum toxin,” the substance that causes botulism, a sometimes fatal form of food poisoning. It sounds scarier than it is; in small quantities, Botox merely interrupts nerve impulses to muscles in the face. The lines that furrow the forehead when you raise your eyebrows, the crow’s feet that appear when you squint and the creases between the eyebrows when you frown are all caused by tension in underlying muscles, which contract and squeeze the skin like an accordion. Botox keeps this from happening.

Fortunately, Botox is so diluted that serious side effects like allergic reactions are rare. If the doctor slips, in most cases the worst that can happen is that you will lose the ability to raise your eyelids all the way; or, if you’re getting shots around the mouth, a mistake could leave you drooling. But even a perfectly executed procedure has consequences. Depending on which wrinkles you go after, you might not be able to frown or raise your eyebrows or squint.

Is this a problem? After going over the pros and cons of Botox, it’s usually not enough to discourage Botox enthusiasts. In Hollywood, however, the treatments are so popular that some directors complain that their leading actors can no longer convincingly perform a full range of facial expressions. The good news is that even if there’s a little accident, Botox wears off after a while (which also means you have to go back every six months, at up to $500 per treatment). Slipups are pretty rare, however, as long as you go to someone who knows what he or she is doing.

Following is a brief pro/con analysis of Botox:

There are multiple advantages for using Botox:

  • The whole procedure takes little time, no anesthesia is needed and the person can get back to his/her usual activities almost immediately
  • The effects appear in a short period of time (3 to 5 days) and last from three to four months
  • The treatment can be repeated and in time its effects will start lasting longer
  • It can also help with sweating (by paralyzing the muscles responsible for it) when injected in small amounts into the underarm skin or skin on the palms and soles of the hand or foot
  • Improves the appearance of the skin (the patient can look many years younger than they are)

The side effects of using Botox seem to be minimal. Among them are:

  • Pain and bruising  in the area where the injections were made
  • Rarely a paralyze or weakness of the muscles in the neighborhood with the area where Botox was injected
  • Temporary headaches can occur
  • Less that 1% of patients have reported the drooping of the eyelid.

Some of these side effects can disappear with a proper shot technique and some precaution (no exercise and no massage on the area of injection for 4 hours after injection).

But the big cons are to be mentioned:

  • The fact that it makes you act some how unnatural because you are not able to revel all your emotions (part of the face mimic being blocked)
  • Because some parts of the face is “frozen” somehow the brain redirects the impulses to other muscles and wrinkles can grow in parts of the face which is not treated and where there weren’t before.

Because the disadvantages are uncommon, Botox treatment gains more and more users.

We all know what ageing does to us – how it makes us frail and more likely to fall ill. But what actually causes ageing and can we do anything to slow its advance? Ageing is caused by a build up of damage in our body – we can control some aspects of the ageing process. The lifestyle choices we make are important. We can eat foods that burden our bodies with things like saturated fats, or we can eat foods that are high in natural anti-oxidants that can aid the body’s defenses.
We can exercise so that our natural systems for renewal and repair keep our muscles, lungs and blood circulatory system in good shape. We can stretch our minds to reinforce the networks of connection between brain cells. This makes them less vulnerable to the losses that occur because of ageing. Of course, how ageing will affect us is partly down to luck – where the damage strikes first and hardest. Some of it is down to genetics and some of it will be affected by our lifestyle choices.

As was said by Mark Twain, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”