Botox has become North America's No. 1 cosmetic procedure, so it's no wonder that most people have heard of it. And it is common knowledge that Botox is used to get rid of moderate to severe lines and wrinkles. But what is Botox? What is it made of and how does it work?
How Botox Was Discovered
Botox originates with a substance called Clostridium botulinum, which was discovered more than 100 years ago. Doctors knew that the Clostridium botulinum produced a very powerful substance called Botulinum toxin, which could stop muscles from moving temporarily. Doctors used Botulinum regularly to treat a range of medical issues, from migraines to writer's cramp, starting in the 1970s.
In 1987, two doctors named Alastair and Jean Carruthers accidentally discovered that Botox had cosmetic uses—not just medical ones. The husband-and-wife pair each had a separate medical practice. Alastair was a dermatologist. Jean was an eye doctor.
In Jean's practice, she treated many eye disorders, including one called blepharospasm that involved the uncontrollable blinking of the eye and surrounding muscles. The treatment was a dilute solution of Botulinum toxin, which temporarily paralyzed the muscles around the eye. One day, one of Jean's patients noted that the treatment did more than help her blepharospasm. It treated her wrinkles, too. Jean told Alastair about the discovery, and he tried the treatment in his dermatology practice soon after.
The pair presented their findings at the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery meeting in Orlando in 1991. They also led rigorous clinical trials. Now, Botox is the first and only FDA-approved treatment that can temporarily smooth the look of frown lines, crow's feet and forehead lines.
How Botox Is Made
Today, Botox is made by a company called Allergan, in a very secure and highly-controlled laboratory. Some Allergan employees, including leading neuroscientists, have dedicated their careers to developing and perfecting Botox's uses.
How Botox Works to Reduce Wrinkles and Frown Lines
Your muscles are controlled by motor nerves, which release a chemical that tells them when to contract. Botox blocks the release of that chemical so that the muscles never contract. When the muscles don't contract, the skin above them doesn't wrinkle. That's what helps give you the relaxed and carefree look that comes with Botox.
Want to Learn More?
We've created a list of common questions about Botox. Read them here.
We also have a handy dosage guide for you.
Let Us Help You Look and Feel Amazing
If you're thinking about Botox, we'd love to talk with you. Our doctors can answer your questions and help get you started with your first treatment.