When it comes to neurotoxin injections, the potential to lessen the look of fine lines and wrinkles on the face is where they shine. However, you may not know that they are also used to treat hyperhidrosis, cervical dystonia, overactive bladder, lagophthalmos, or lazy eye. Injectable neurotoxins also show promise in the treatment of chronic migraines.
Injectable neurotoxins, including onobotulinumtoxinA, temporarily paralyze a muscle so it cannot contract. The bacteria that causes botulism and food poisoning produce this toxin.
First used in Botox, botulinum neurotoxin has since been incorporated into several other medications. In addition to onabotulinumtoxin A (Botox) and incobotulinumtoxinA (Xeomin), we also have abobotulinumtoxinA (Dysport). Dosage units and other subtle differences can’t be used interchangeably.
Wait, Neurotoxins? Aren’t They Dangerous?
C. botulinum, the source of the neurotoxin used in injections, can be found in various ecosystems and environments. This includes soil, lakes, forests, and the digestive systems of mammals and fish.
The bacteria and spores of Clostridium botulinum found in nature do not pose a health risk. When the spores change and the cell population grows, that’s when issues develop. Botulinum toxin, the neurotoxin that causes botulism, is produced by the bacteria at a given moment.
We cannot overstate the threat posed by botulinum toxin. Experts predict that two kilos of the crystalline form of the toxin would be sufficient to wipe out all human life on Earth, whereas one gram would kill one million people.
However, the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology reports that neurotoxic injections are safe and have few adverse effects when administered appropriately in a therapeutic context.
Neurotoxin injections are produced by manufacturers and contain incredibly minute amounts of Botulinum toxin. The drug’s ability to temporarily paralyze muscles helps treat various illnesses affecting the muscles and nerves.
Commercial preparations of Botulinum toxin include:
- onabotulinumtoxin A (Botox)
- abobotulinumtoxin A (Dysport)
- incobotulinumtoxin A (Xeomin)
- prabotulinumtoxin A (Jeuveau)
Although “Botox” is a registered trademark owned by a single business, the public uses the phrase loosely to describe all these products.
How Neurotoxin Injections Work
All four of these injectables—Botox, Xeomin, Dysport, and Jeuveau—share a common base ingredient: a neurotoxin. Thus, the name “neurotoxin” refers to a class of chemicals that attacks the neurological system and interrupts the nerve signaling pathways responsible for triggering muscle contractions. This is how the medication produces transient muscle paralysis.
The release of acetylcholine from nerve terminals at the muscle-cell junction triggers muscle contraction. Acetylcholine connects to receptors on the muscle cells and causes the cells to contract or shorten.
Neurotoxin injections block the release of acetylcholine, which stops the muscle cells from contracting. Here, the toxin facilitates a loosening of the muscles.
Botox is most commonly used to diminish lines and wrinkles on the face. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery reports that Botox injections are the most common type of cosmetic surgery performed in the United States.
A total of almost 7 million Americans got Botox in 2016. Botox will continue to dominate the non-invasive procedure market in 2022 and from 2023 onward. Botox is very popular, with over 7.4 million Americans having it done. When considering treatments on a global scale, the value of the Botox industry rises to almost $4.4 billion.
Effects are short-lived, lasting anywhere from three months to a year. The following facial zones are popular injection sites:
frown lines, glabellar lines, elevens, or perhaps just the lines between the brows
- crow’s feet are creases in the outer corners of the eyes.
- Forehead furrows that run horizontally
- lip lines and crow’s feet
- Chin with “cobblestone” skin
Doctors use neurotoxin injections to treat many medical disorders that affect the neuromuscular system. The FDA has sanctioned the following applications of neurotoxin injections. Admission is limited to those 18 and up unless otherwise stated:
- spasticity of the upper limbs in those older than two years
- Strabismus, or crossed eyes, in people over the age of 12
- Protecting those who suffer from migraines 15 or more times a month for at least 4 hours each time.
- Suppression of overactive bladder symptoms caused by a neurological disorder if anticholinergic drugs are ineffective
- dystonia-induced blepharospasm (eyelid spasms)
- The pain in the neck and shoulders that comes from cervical dystonia, a neurological movement problem
How Safe Are Neurotoxin Injections
While large quantities of botulinum toxin can be fatal, the tiny amounts used in Botox treatments are safe. Between 1989 and 2003, just 36 cases of cosmetic-related side effects were reported to the FDA. Thirteen of these cases might not have been caused by the medicine but rather by some other underlying illness.
So, out of the millions of people who tried neurotoxin injections over the decades, only 36 incidences of adverse consequences were reported. Although neurotoxin injections use botulinum toxin, the most potent naturally-occurring toxin known to man, this treatment has one of the most impressive aesthetic safety records to date.
While pregnant or nursing, most doctors advise against using Botox. Those allergic to the protein found in cow’s milk should also avoid Botox.
Still, Always Visit A Reputable Provider
Working with a qualified medical expert is essential to get the best neurotoxin injections.
While hiring someone who is not licensed could be more convenient or cost-effective, you run the chance of encountering problems. Keep in mind that the poison has a half-life of 3–6 months so you may require more than one treatment.
It’s possible to experience some discomfort following the treatment, as with any medical intervention. Discuss with your doctor what you can anticipate from the injection and the accompanying recovery time. They are there to help you weigh the pros and cons and answer any questions.
Let your doctor know if you’ve gotten a neurotoxin injection in the prior four months. Inform your healthcare provider if you use any other medications, such as those for sleep, allergies, or muscle relaxation. The risk of bleeding or bruising can be reduced by discontinuing blood-thinning medications a few days before receiving an injection.