Over the last twenty years botox, a brand name for a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, has become increasingly popular as a treatment for the lines and wrinkles produced by facial expression – such as those around the eyes, between the brows and on the forehead. While dermal fillers are used to treat the so-called ‘static wrinkles’ that are present when the face is at rest botox, when injected in small amounts, actually inhibits the contraction of muscles that cause the wrinkles in the first place.

The botox toxin is probably best known for causing the potentially fatal disease botulism. However in developed countries, infant botulism which occurs in very young children is more common than cases of adults consuming contaminated food. The toxin itself has a long history which began in 1820 when Justinus Kerner, a German medical officer, provided the first complete description of clinical botulism. Subsequently, in 1895 a professor of bacteriology called Émile van Ermengem identified the bacterial source of the toxin. As botulism became a public health hazard in early twentieth century America, the veterinary scientist Karl Friedrich Meyer developed techniques for growing the bacteria and handling the toxin.

Later, during the 1970s and 1980s, the toxin was developed for the treatment of strabismus (the squint) and blepharospasm (involuntary eyelid movement), and in 1989 the cosmetic effect of botulinum toxin A on wrinkles was documented by plastic surgeon Richard Clark. In 1992, Jean and Alistair Carruthers published a study on the use of botulinum toxin A to treat frown lines between the eyebrows and the FDA approved botox specifically for this in 2002. Since then, its use has become widespread.

Botulinum toxin A, inhibits the release of the chemical messenger acetylcholine, which is required for nerves to pass the signal telling muscles to contract. It requires between one and three days to take effect and after around 10 weeks further injections will be necessary as the effect will wear off – although wrinkles often become less severe over time as the muscles get used to being relaxed.

Esthetique Academy train qualified medical professionals on the specific procedures required to provide botox treatment. Interactive courses are taught by leading doctors in the cosmetics industry and held in relaxed environments with state of the art facilities at venues in London, Nottingham and Liverpool. Each course is accredited by top insurers such as Hamilton Fraser and Cosmetic Insure, and a big bonus is the free one year mentoring that gives each trainee access, via phone and email, to one of the expert trainers.

While the risks of anything going wrong with the use of botulinum toxin in cosmetic treatments are low, this is still a prescription only medicine and a potent poison. Those looking to benefit from botox should ensure it is being provided by an experienced professional with the appropriate training and accreditation.

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