Q. How does Botox work - is it dangerous?
A. Celebrities and TV presenters everywhere are sporting youthful, line-free faces. A few of them have come clean - it's all thanks to Botox - a substance which has been used by the mediclal profession for years.
Q. What is Botox?
A. It is the trade name for botulinum toxin
Q. Is Botox the same as botulism?
A. It's related to botulism, a type of food poisoning that is life-threatening but very rare.
Q. What does botulism do?
A. The toxin is produced by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which lives and breeds in tinned foods. Just a small amount can prove fatal.
It causes paralysis by attaching itself to the nerve endings, preventing the release of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter responsible for triggering muscle contractions. Within 24 hours, paralysis starts with the eyes becoming blurred, then the toxin moves down the body, eventually paralysing the lungs and causing death. It's vital that antitoxin drugs are given as soon as possible.
Q. Why is Botox different?
A. Botulinum toxin A - or Botox - is just one of the neurotoxins produced by Clostridium botulinum, and is a purified form of the toxin. By injecting small amounts of Botox into the muscles under the skin, you can prevent muscles contracting, which has significant medical and cosmetic benefits.
And then there are the cosmetic benefits. Botox effectively removes frown lines, crow's feet and other wrinkles to produce a smoother, younger-looking face. It does this by paralysing the muscles in these areas, preventing them from wrinkling the skin.
Q. Are the effects of Botox injections permanent?
A. No. They last between three and eight months.