BOTOX: Not Just Lip Service

In the 21st century looking and feeling our best can be a complex task. Most of us are bombarded with the notorious hurdles—most of which are related to stress and lack of time; no time for good nutrition, not enough sleep hours, no time to exercise, and stressful work environments.  To add to this, we also deal with food sensitivities, environmental toxins, and other factors that make optimal wellbeing a challenge. The pace of life has become fast and without strategies to counter all of the stress we face on a daily basis we are left deficient, overworked, and frustrated.

Although stress may seem like an intangible concept, it has very real effect on our physiology. In fact, people who reported feeling stressed were 27% more likely to suffer a heart attack – researchers likened it to smoking five cigarettes a day. I saw this happening among my patients on a daily basis which is why I created the 7 Elements – a framework to help people nourish their body from the inside – out by focusing on 7 Elements: nutrition, sleep, stress management, exercise, topical and ingestible products, You (self-care & self-love), and professional treatments.

When these 7 Elements are in balance we not only look our best but we also feel our best. Professional treatments is one of the 7 Elements and includes such things as massage therapy, chiropractic treatments, lasers, dermal fillers, and Botox. Botox gained popularity and notoriety as a wrinkle reducer in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But it wasn’t long before researchers recognized the potential of Botox for treating medical conditions too.

Today it’s used therapeutically to treat problems such as repetitive neck spasms, eye twitching, and overactive bladder. In 2010, the FDA approved Botox as a preventive treatment option for chronic migraines which is covered under medical plans in Canada.

The latest research on Botox has found it to be very effective in reducing depression. Logically, it makes sense that if people can improve their appearance then they will likely feel better about themselves and therefore be less depressed.

However, this study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found Botox worked in people that were not concerned with their facial appearance and therefore were not seeking out treatments such as Botox. Study participants had struggled with depression for 16 years on average. Six weeks after a single treatment in the ‘frown line’ area, the Botox group showed 47% reduction in a standard depression rating scale compared to only 9% in the placebo group. The authors conclude, “our study provides new evidence that botulinum toxin [Botox] injection to the glabellar region may be an effective, safe, and sustainable intervention in the treatment of depression. It provides clinical support for the concept that the facial musculature not only expresses, but also regulates, mood states.”Botox works by blocking certain chemical signals from your nerves, causing temporary paralysis of your muscles. In the case of depression, researchers are continuing to find evidence that facial musculature that is continuously contracted not only causes wrinkles, but will also exacerbate the feelings that caused the muscles to tense and contract in the first place. This can become a continuous cycle and therefore Botox or even daily facial relaxation exercises can reduce feelings that lead to depression.The safety and efficacy of Botox have been well-established in over 65 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials and in approximately 15,000 patients. Before getting any medical aesthetic injectable treatment, patients need to follow the ABCs of patient safety:  Ask about the treatment facts; Be aware of the treatment you are get-ting, where you are getting it and by whom; and always get a medical Consultation. Although Botox can offer a multitude of benefits in a very short time frame, while also helping to reduce the need for certain medications, it is important we don’t neglect the 7 Elements in their entirety to ensure you are nourishing your body on all levels. Creating a customized plan that includes cosmetic and wellness approaches is key to achieving the look and feel you deserve.

Reference: Wollmer, M, A., et al. 2012. Facial depression with botulinum toxin: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 46, 5: 574 – 581.


By Dr. Christina Plaskos


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