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Pros and cons of antiwrinkle injections

For many men and women, the fear of aging and the desire to look young as long as possible has driven scores of people to doctors' offices around the country for antiwrinkle injections.

Since Botox® received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval back in April 2002, it and its successors have become the drugs of choice in wrinkle reduction. These treatments are a derivative of the botulinum toxin, the same bacteria that causes botulism. Botulinum toxin is one of the more powerful neurotoxins discovered. Because it deadens nerve impulses and relaxes muscles, it is widely used to relax the face in areas where wrinkles are prevalent, thusly reducing the appearance of wrinkles as well.

The types of facial lines that are most often treated with these products are the ones that appear when one is frowning or squinting. Frown lines, wrinkles on the forehead, crows feet and the like are frequent treatment areas. Areas on the lower half of the face are sometimes treated, but it's controversial due to the risk of damaging important facial nerves.

There are potentially serious risks associated with these wrinkle treatments. It is important to weigh the risks associated before making the commitment to the treatments. Furthermore, it is important to visit a qualified cosmetic specialist, dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon for the administration of any botulinum toxin.

Pros

These procedures are relatively safe when administered by a skilled person. They are known to temporarily erase wrinkles for 3 to 6 months. Many people find a boost in self-esteem after receiving a treatment. Many others have gotten compliments about looking younger or happier, especially if wrinkles created an angry or sad expression to the face. Injections are less expensive than other cosmetic surgery.

Cons

As with any drug treatment, there are side effects that may negate the benefits of treatment. These can include drooping of eyelids, swelling, redness or bruising at injection sites, and infections. Faces also may lack emotions and limit a person's ability to communicate effectively.

It's when the botulinum toxin spreads outside of the treatment area where severe side effects can occur that might be life threatening. These include all-over muscle weakness, hoarseness, loss of bladder control, problems swallowing or breathing and other side effects.

Because this is a medical procedure, it is important to have a medical professional administer the product in a medical setting. "Botox parties," where an unskilled technician performs the injections can be risky for all involved.

Wrinkle treatments can be effective, but carry with them some risks. Explore all the benefits and risks prior to administration of botulinum toxin.