Botox: Injectible beauty

Lisa Kaaki I Arab News
Publication Date: 
Sat, 2008-09-20 03:00

AN increasing number of women and men cannot resist the prospect of a smooth skin and youthful looks, thanks to Botox, the magic word, on everyone’s lips these days. Botox is also easily available. Gone are the days when Middle Eastern women had to travel to Europe or the United States for their beauty treatments.

“Botox has been in Saudi Arabia since the late 1990s. As a matter of fact Obagi Hospital in Riyadh was the first center to introduce Botox for cosmetic use in the Middle East. There are some advanced centers in the region which are as good as the best in Europe and the United States in terms of services, technology and qualified staff. It is however unfortunate that certain centers which do not have qualified doctors, allow estheticians to perform cosmetic procedures which carry a high risk of complications. This has a negative impact: People lose faith in the doctors available and think that outside is better which is a complete myth,” explains Riyadh-based Dr. Nada Sweidan.

Botox is so popular these days that even young women with hardly any wrinkles are being injected with this derma-filler. Is that too early? Dr. Sweidan highly recommends the procedure, especially in the early 20s when some young people have wrinkles caused by repeated frowning. Botox should be considered a preventive procedure rather than a treatment. Botox injections should be given as soon as dynamic wrinkles are visible.

Botox is a trademark name given to the toxin injections used to treat medical as well as cosmetic conditions. The toxin, known as Botulinum, is derived from the bacteria Clostridia, the same bacterial toxin that causes lethal food poisoning. Botox is in fact a highly poisonous substance.

Although there is no danger of getting botulism from the shots, the procedure is not without risks and should be done by a physician who is board-certified in plastic surgery or dermatology and experienced in the procedure you want. If too much toxin is injected or injected into the wrong place, one can end up with droopy eyelids that will stay for weeks until the botox effect wears off. Botox works by paralyzing facial muscles, thus smoothing out frown lines for up to 120 days. Then you need more Botox.

“There are no long-term or short-term side effects of Botox when the injections are performed by a professional doctor using the original Botox made by Allergan and which is FDA- approved. Patients should make sure that Allergan Botox is used and that a new bottle is opened for the injections. Unfortunately, in order to reduce the cost, some physicians will compromise the quality and the quantity of Botox. As a result, the effects might not last as long and the patient might suffer from side effects,” explains Dr. Sweidan.

On the other hand, one of the greatest advantages of Botox is that it is nonsurgical. Many cosmetic treatments for aging skin require major surgeries and long recovery times. Botox treatments take less than an hour to complete, often requiring less than 10 minutes for the actual injection process.

The fact that Botox also rejuvenates one’s face is part of its success. It is usually injected in between the eyebrows, forehead, deep neck and crow’s feet beside the eyes. The injection is a very simple procedure and it does not require anesthesia. Patients begin to see noticeable improvements in a few days time while, in comparison, a facelift surgery may require months of recovery before the full effects become noticeable. In addition to smoothing out current lines and wrinkles, regular use of Botox can also help prevent future facial lines. The rejuvenating effects can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

Sooner or later, whether a man or a woman, fine lines will become noticeable between our eyes and hairline. They are caused by muscle movements when we smile or frown, in fact, any facial expression will turn into a wrinkle in time. As we age, the effects of time and stress show on our faces as skin gradually loses its elasticity. Women tend to show more expression on their faces than men and because they have a softer and more delicate skin, their wrinkles appear to be deeper and more pronounced. Lately, however, an increasing number of men are going for Botox injections: “The procedure is the same. The only difference is the amount that we might need as some men have a large muscle mass that might require a bigger dose to achieve the required results,” says Dr. Sweidan.

Botox is fast becoming the preferred method of wrinkle control not only for women but for men also. However, patients should have realistic expectations and not think that Botox gives the same effects as certain surgical procedures — a brow lift or a rhinoplasty — which is not true. “It is important for the physician to be honest in his treatment and in the promise he gives his patient. Botox is a safe and simple procedure which does not take a long time to perform and the patient can go immediately to his regular activity right after the procedure. Moreover, Botox can also be used in the treatment of hyperhydrosis i.e., excessive sweating in the underarm, palms or soles. It is not true that if you stop this abnormal excessive sweating, toxins are going to go into our body. The procedure gives great results and relief for up to 10-11 months,” concludes Dr. Sweidan.

Aging no longer has to be a passive endeavor on our part. Our physical appearance can match our inner health and this can also improve the quality of our life. Aging, however, should not been seen as a disease whose symptoms have to be fought to the death or, at least, endlessly camouflaged.

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