Also known as Botulinum toxin type A, botox is a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It is the same toxin that causes a life-threatening type of food poisoning called botulism. However, when used in tiny doses, it can be administered by doctors to treat a variety of different health problems, including:

  • Temporary removal of facial wrinkles
  • Severe underarm sweating
  • Cervical dystonia – a neurological disorder that causes severe neck and shoulder muscle contractions
  • Blepharospasm – uncontrollable blinking
  • Strabismus – misaligned eyes

In cosmetic practice, the commonest application for botox is to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles or furrows. Botox injections work by weakening or paralyzing certain muscles or by blocking certain nerves. The effects last about three to four months. Side effects can include pain at the injection site, flu-like symptoms, headache and upset stomach. Injections in the face may also cause temporary drooping eyelids, although this will also wear off along with the overall effects of the botox. You should not use Botox if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

The key advantage of botox is that injections can be repeated once the effects disappear. It is also most unlikely that permanent problems will occur.