A Look at the History of Botox

Per the Cosmetic Surgery National Data Bank released by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, over 3.25 million men and women received Botox injections in 2012. Derived from botulism, Botox is a long-lasting, non-surgical solution for lines and wrinkles. Through history, Botox has seen many advancements in how it can be used.

Origins of Botox

Botox wouldn’t exist if Dr. Justinus Kerner had not studied a batch of spoiled sausages that made many people sick. During his studies, he decided to inject himself with some of the toxin in hopes of better understanding how the body reacted to botulism. His goal was to use the botulism to help prevent cases of food poisoning.

In the 1940s, botulism was considered a very dangerous substance, so the U.S. looked into the use of botulism as a biological weapon. While pills containing botulism were manufactured, they were never used. After the war ended, researchers turned their attention back to the beneficial uses of botulism.

Dr. Edward Schantz discovered that when injected into the muscle, the nerve endings stopped functioning properly and muscles were temporarily relaxed. Close to a decade later, Dr. Alan Scott tested his theory that if the botulism was injected into muscles near the eyes, it might alleviate crossed eyes. He performed his first tests on lab monkeys and received FDA approval to test the toxin on humans. His tests were a success.

In 1988, Allergan received the rights to produce Dr. Scott’s botulinum toxin in larger quantities and shortened the name to Botox. The FDA granted approval for the medication to be used to treat both crossed eyes and eyelid spasms.

Progressions in Medical Use of Botox

After the first approval, additional trials were run to see what else the muscle relaxant could do. Soon, it was proven to be beneficial in treating some symptoms of cerebral palsy, excessive sweating, overactive bladders, and writer’s cramp. The biggest discovery, however, came when an ophthalmologist from Canada noticed that injecting Botox into her patients was not only treating eyelid spasms, but it was also making frown lines disappear. Dr. Jean Carruthers wrote about her experience in a study published in the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology.

U.S. dermatologists read the 1997 study and immediately started using Botox to treat frown lines. Though the FDA had yet to approve Botox for treating frown lines, the popularity of the toxin grew so much that Allergan had to increase production to end temporary shortage.

It would be another five years before the FDA would approve the use of Botox for treatment of frown lines. By the time Allergan had approval to market Botox as a treatment for frown lines, sales reached $440 million.

Recent FDA Approval

While plastic surgeons use Botox to treat lines on the forehead and around the eyes, the FDA did not officially approve Botox as a treatment for crow’s feet until 2013. Today, men and women can receive quick Botox injections that reduce the appearance of frown lines and crow’s feet, and they have the FDA’s approval.

Risks of Botox are minimal, but there are a few things that occur in rare situations. Visit the American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s page on Botulinum Toxin: Special Consideration, Risks, and Recovery to learn more. Dr. Shelton Kabaker, a San Francisco facial plastic surgeon, uses Botox manufactured only by Allergan to ensure its safety. Talk to Dr. Kabaker about pricing and the use of Botox to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Call his staff at (415) 379-9015 to schedule a consultation.

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