Does Botox Cause Muscle Atrophy? (by Tracey from Face Up Beauty)

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Does Botox Cause Muscle Atrophy? (by Tracey from Face Up Beauty)

A couple of months ago I wrote an article about what happens when you stop using Botox. There I talked about a lady who stopped using Botox after 20 years, and wrote about what doctors said Botox would do to your face once you stop using it. The article was ended with a question mark as I didn't go into details about the effect that Botox had on muscles.

Today Tracey from Face Up Beauty is discussing Botox side effects and specifically the effect that botulinum toxin has on our muscles, which I thought was a perfect compliment to the previous post on the subject.

Botox side effects


Everyone has heard about Botox, and likely has an opinion about it. Love or loathe it, Botox undoubtedly remains one of the most popular surgical wrinkle treatments, despite reported concerns over its safety.

Botox may cause muscle atrophy
Muscle atrophy is one of the possible side effects of Botox
If you type “Botox side effects” into Google, you’ll be presented with an array of scary stories and pictures. Botox isn’t unique – all cosmetic procedures have risks if administered incorrectly.

The unregulated nature of the Internet also means searching on any subject will bring up a shed load of extreme content, much of it totally inaccurate. The challenge is sifting through it all and working out what to trust.

Muscle atrophy is one of the possible side effects of Botox


Muscle atrophy is one of the purported side-effects of Botox that fascinates me the most.  This is where the muscle loses mass and can waste away, sometimes due to the lack of use. Botox relaxes (partially paralysing) the muscles by inhibiting neurotransmitters, i.e. those muscles are no longer being worked. It has led some to ponder: can long-term use of Botox cause muscles to sag and actually make you look older?

There is no dispute that Botox causes muscles to weaken at the time of use. The controversy is thus: do muscles remain weaker after the drug has worn off and is it something we should worry about?

One place where you can find reliable information on cosmetic procedures is the online community RealSelf, which Mingaile referred to in her recent ‘Alternatives to Botox’ post. This forum, populated by medical doctors, has a thread on muscle atrophy.

Do muscles return to their normal state after quitting Botox?


According to one doctor on the RealSelf thread, Botox can lead to muscle atrophy if used repeatedly over short periods, without allowing the muscle time to regain some use before being re-injected. His advice: go carefully.

Most, though, maintain that muscle paralysis is temporary and full function will return once Botox wears off, which is usually between 3-6 months. This slight opinion clash apart, all the experts on the thread I read maintain that Botox is a super safe and highly effective treatment, if administered correctly.

Botox may affect muscle weakness and atrophy far from the site of injection


Doctors on RealSelf have one story, but if you look elsewhere on the Internet you can find more opinions. Fears over the safety of Botox were raised in the 2010 study on rats. The study found that animals injected with botulinum toxin A experienced muscle weakness and atrophy far from the site of injection. The report, by researchers at the Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, raised questions about the long-term therapeutic use of Botox. It also mirrored previous research.

Final Word


So, is Botox safe? I can’t answer that, there is a need for more evidence. But if you want to try Botox, make sure you go to an experienced, board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist for the treatment.

Also, give your muscles time to regain some of their function before re-injecting Botox, otherwise, you may end up with an unnatural look.


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