Neurotoxins: The nifty wrinkle-buster that’s not just for wrinkles

When you hear the words neurotoxin in the medical or cosmetic field, it is referring to botulinum toxin A commonly known as Botox. Botox itself is a brand name from the company Allergan who did a marvelous job of bringing this aesthetic procedure to the masses with effective campaigns (thus making it a household name like Kleenex when referring to tissues).

Neurotoxins work to prevent the contraction of muscles. It was originally discovered due to a Clostridium botulinim outbreak, although its aesthetics uses were discovered while treating strabismus (cross-eye). The idea was that it would relax the eye muscles thus relieving the crossing of the eyes. As a side effect they realized that the glabellar areas were looking unusually smooth. And thus, neurotoxins for cosmetic treatments were born.

There are actually four major players to date in the neurotoxin space: Botox (Allergan), Dysport (Galderma), Xeomin (Merz) and Jeaveau (Evolus). For the average consumer, what you care about is:

  • Milk allergy? Not just lactose intolerant, but an actual allergy to milk. Say no to Dysport.
  • Rewards points through Alle or Aspire? Botox or Dysport are your options (as of now).
  • There are three units of Dysport required for each unit of the other 3 due to the molecular size. What does that mean to you? It’s not cheaper since you need more to make the same dosage. In the end the results are Coke vs. Pepsi, here.
  • Some will say Jeaveau kicks in the fastest and lasts the longest, but it’s too new to corroborate that. Dysport does tend to kick in faster than Botox. How long it last depends on your body’s metabolism, dosage and injector expertise.  
  • Dosage typically equates to longevity. You’ll realistically get 3-4 solid months out of a good neurotoxin job EXCEPT for very strong muscles being treated for the first time, very high metabolisms (a downside to being super fit!) and areas with extreme movement and small dosages such as lips and chins.

This is a perfect intro into my post. Since neurotoxins have hit the market, clinicians and injectors have found innovative ways to utilize neurotoxins to treat a variety of issues.

11+ Uses for Botox You Might Not Have Known About

Photo Credit: Bella Donna Med Spa
  1. Hyperhidrosis: neurotoxins work by relaxing overactive sweat glands, thus cutting down on excessive sweating. It has been used in the underarms, forehead, upper lip, hands, feet and genitals. Treatment for hyperhidrosis can last longer than treating wrinkles, but also requires a hefty dosage.
  2. Masseter reduction: by relaxing the masseter (jaw muscle that allows you to chew) you can prevent excessive grinding of the teeth and TMJ which can help headaches. From an aesthetic standpoint it can also slim the face. This treatment takes 2-3 months to fully kick in, and may need 2-3 treatments before the full effects are visible.
  3. Wrinkle reduction/prevention of the forehead and crows’ feet: this is what neurotoxins are typically known for. By placing the toxins appropriately, you lessen the contraction of the muscle, thus softening or diminishing lines. This can help soften someone’s look who may show tension or stress in their face. Static lines may soften and not disappear, since this is typically caused by a loss of collagen once they are permanent without movement.
  4. Brow lift: by placing the toxins in opposing muscles, injectors can achieve a temporary lift to the brow which opens the eyes and prevents the dreaded “Spock” brow of anger.
  5. Lip flip, gummy smile and “smoker’s” lines: By treating the different areas of the lip, you can give a temporary lifting effect, giving the appearance of subtle volume or to relax a pursed lip. A gummy smile is a mega-watt smile that shows off the teeth and the gums. Relaxing the muscle keeps the top lip from pulling up too far. Smoker’s lines (I say that with quotes because we all get them with age regardless of being a smoker) can be relaxed to keep us from making the kissing face which causes wrinkles over time. You can expect 6 weeks to 2 months for these areas since the dosage is so small and we of course, still want some movement here!
  6. Cobblestone chin: some of us pout our lip and hold tension in our chin without even knowing it. Treating the chin with a few units relaxes this area, releasing tension and creating a smoother canvas.
  7. Overactive sebaceous glands: sometimes treating areas that have overactive oil glands can help reduce the overproduction, and relieve acne as a pleasant side effect. Microdosing or using tools like the AquaGold are great for this treatment.
  8. Platysmal bands: Platysmal bands are the two bands that run down the sides of the neck. Over time as we age, these become tighter and become more visible. By treating the bands with a neurotoxin, they release and thus become softer to the eye. Imagine making this face by stretching your neck like a velociraptor.
  9. DAOs (Depressor Anguli Oris or the corners of the mouth): DAOs are the corners of the mouth which can pull down over time giving us a downturned smile or more rectangular face. You make this face when seeing that train wreck of a holiday party mishap come to fruition. Ope.
  10. Migraine headaches: by releasing tension in the muscles in the forehead, scalp and masseters, patients may have diminished occurances or intensity of migraines.
  11. Spastic muscles: in a clinical setting, patients with cerebral palsy, spastic bladders and tight pelvic floors have been undergoing neurotoxin treatments to help diminish the effects of overactive muscle contractions.

Neurotoxins are quite the nifty tools to have in the toolbox when it comes to a variety of treatment issues. On a great day, they will enhance your aesthetic or clinical needs in a way that no topical skincare tool or cream can. On a day that would make you furrow your brow (if you could) you have too much movement and need a touch up. On a day that would make you frown and exercise your DAOs (if you could) there is a risk of ptosis (eyelid drooping), dropping a brow, hitting the DLI to cause a droopy smile or creating an overly frozen effect. And on a really, really bad day you’ve eaten a bloated can of chili way past the expiration date contaminated with botulism (yes, they are of the same toxin however one is controlled in a lab vs. not) and run the risk of nervous system and musculature paralysis, respiratory depression and other emergent or life-threatening situations.

Neurotoxins are only to be administered by trained medical professionals. In the hands of a skilled injector and from a reputable place the risks of severe reactions are minimal, but neurotoxins do carry risks. Your healthcare professional will do a thorough medical history and can answer any questions.

And there you have it, ReadHead readers! I hope you’ve learned some new techniques to ask your trusty aesthetic injector or medical provider. Prices range per unit or per area and do your due diligence to find a reputable place. Have a question about this treatment? Drop us a note in the comments.

Stacie Dastoor is a registered nurse and esthetician. This information is for entertainment purposes and not intended to be medical advice or replace the advice of a doctor or other medical professional. Consult your healthcare provider and any manufacturer’s website for all information and risks.

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