Botox is the leading non-surgical cosmetic treatment performed by doctors around the world. It is estimated that over 8 million Botox treatments are carried out each year, confirming people’s desire to emulate the beauty secrets of their favorite celebrities.
Botox has received a fair share of bad publicity in the past. Doctors produced a number of undesired effects, creating faces that are devoid of expression or normal facial movement.
Techniques in administering Botox has improved so much that people are undergoing Botox treatment as a normal part of their beauty regime.
We speak to one of the most experienced aesthetic doctors in Singapore, Dr. Siew Tuck Wah, to find out what exactly is Botox and whether women who are pregnant or breast feeding can undergo the treatment.
What is Botox?
The word ‘Botox’ is actually the brand name for botulinum toxin injected into the skin to inhibit muscle movement.
Botulinum toxin is used to treat a number of disorders characterized by overactive muscle movement, such as spasms of the head and neck, post-stroke spasticity, limbs, and jaw. In July 2016, the FDA approved abobotulinum toxin A for the treatment of pediatric lower limb spasticity.
How does Botox work for cosmetic purposes?
Botox injections work by blocking the nerve signals to the muscles. With no nerve signals to the muscles, they become more relaxed, which in turn reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles on the skin.
And while Botox is extremely popular for aesthetic purposes, it is pretty useful for the following as well:
- Treatment for excessive sweating
- Treatment for enlarged pores
- Treatment for teeth grinding or bruxing
- Treatment for big calves
In recent months, doctors in Thailand are performing Botox treatment on scrotum on men too.
Side effects for breast-feeding and nursing women
Botox treatments for cosmetic applications are recognized as safe. There are no reports where the unborn child has suffered from any side effects from the Botox treatment the mother underwent.
Botox contains neurotoxins, and when administered in large doses, may potentially cause harm to people who are allergic to these chemicals.
Infectious disease caused by botulinum toxin can be life threatening, especially in pregnant women, since the unborn child does not have any immunity defense. Studies have shown that botulinum toxin A has a high molecular weight. Thus, it appears that it is unlikely to cross the placenta.
Most doctors will encourage pregnant and nursing women to avoid exposing themselves to potential sources of botulinum toxin, including consuming certain foods, such as:
- Canned food
- Food kept warm without refrigerating it for a long period of time
- Corn syrup
- Fermented meats and seafood
- Chilli peppers
- Foil-wrapped baked potatoes
- Oil-infused garlic
What happens when someone suffers from adverse side effects of Botox injections?
Studies have found that botulinum toxin injected into a specific area can travel through connected nerve cells, paralyzing other parts of the muscles that are not being targeted.
Some known side effects of Botox treatments are:
- Inflammation, pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site
- Formation of rash or welts at the injection site
- Undesired muscle paralysis
- Difficulty in breathing, speaking, or swallowing
- Increased or reduced production of saliva
- Nausea, diarrhea, or stomach pain
- Droopy eyelids
- Blurred vision
If you experience any of the above side effects after a Botox treatment, seek medical attention immediately.
Dr. Siew is the co-founder and Medical Director of Radium Medical Aesthetics.
Radium Medical Aesthetics offers a wide range of customized medical treatments such as Botox treatment and dermal fillers to enhance your anti-aging journey.