A Los Angeles Dermatologist Explains BOTOX® and Its History

For men and women alike in Los Angeles, BOTOX® is an everyday reality. While the injectable made headlines a decade or so ago as a novelty, its widespread acceptance in the United States and the world (it remains the most commonly performed cosmetic treatment on the planet, according to a variety of surveys) has since transformed it into a household name. Celebrities, office workers, and anyone looking to relax some wrinkle-forming facial muscles chooses it for its quick application, safety, and proven results.

How did BOTOX® achieve its chart-topping status? The injectable traces its roots all the way back to the 1890s, where a Belgian food poisoning incident first led to the discovery of the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Researchers quickly learned of its paralyzing effects, but it wasn’t until about 60 years later when scientists began finding that they could develop helpful applications based on the bacteria. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration saw sufficient promise in the research and gave doctors authorization to run trials involving humans.

The first official reports on what the formula later to be known as BOTOX® could do came in 1981, when an ophthalmologist announced that patients suffering from involuntary crossed eyes or walleyes—a condition known as strabismus—found temporary relief from the vision-disrupting symptoms when injections were made into the muscles that pulled the eyes in one direction or another. More eye-related research followed, leading to a pair of FDA approvals in 1989.

From that point on, BOTOX® could be officially marketed and used to stop the involuntary muscle action behind strabismus, as well as a similar culprit causing involuntary blinking known as blepharospasms.

Since BOTOX® demonstrably prevented signals from triggering muscle contractions—and did so safely—research continued in this vein. The next FDA approval was also for involuntary muscle action, centralized just a bit farther down from the eyes: in the neck. Cervical dystonia can be an uncomfortable-to-painful problem, causing the neck to twist and turn, then stay frozen that way so that patients have to carry their head at an odd angle. This FDA approval came in 2000.

An FDA approval given in the year 2002 stood out as the act that launched BOTOX® into international popularity, and newspapers ran with the headlines for years after, along with photos of needles sticking out of patients’ foreheads. The injectable had branched out from medical to cosmetic applications, cementing its position in the spotlight as it allowed anyone willing to try it to enjoy a relaxed, more youthful appearance.

Just two years later, the FDA gave its nod for the first non-muscle-related use of BOTOX®: treating excessive underarm sweating, known as hyperhidrosis. Six years after that, in 2010, it voiced approval for the treatment of chronic migraines, bringing a chance of some relief to people who spend at least 60 hours a month reeling from the pain in their head. Involuntary muscle action took another blow that same year, when the FDA also provided approval for using BOTOX® to treat upper limb spasticity.

2013 was another two-for-one year, with BOTOX® gaining approval to smooth out crow’s feet on the cosmetic side and help curb an overactive bladder on the medical side. Dr. Derek Jones served as an investigator for the crow’s feet study.

Most recently, in 2016, treatments for the lower half of the body were welcomed into the official FDA-approved fold when the agency announced its green light for doctors using BOTOX® to treat lower limb spasticity.

While board-certified dermatologist Dr. Derek Jones and the other physicians on his team use BOTOX® only for cosmetic applications, they do so knowing that the injectable is backed by decades of careful research, rigorous testing, and FDA-led scrutiny designed to ensure that the product is both safe and effective. Learn more about BOTOX® in Los Angeles from the team at Skin Care & Laser Physicians of Beverly Hills by visiting skincareandlaser.com or calling 310-246-0495.

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