Just when you thought you'd heard it all in terms of Botox's array of treatment uses, another function for this incredible injectable surfaces. A Chicago plastic surgeon is now saying that Botox injections are the answer to acne, as well as to wrinkles and other skin and medical conditions. But how does this popular drug accomplish this feat? Can Botox truly treat acne?
While Botox injections are only FDA approved in the U.S. to treat forehead wrinkles, excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis, and eyelid and neck muscle disorders, the injectable is used off-label for a great variety of other conditions, including strangled voice disorder, migraine headaches, and now acne! Botox for hyperhidrosis, Botox for migraines, and Botox® Cosmetic for wrinkles are the most popular forms of the treatment used today.
Some doctors and dermatologists feel the drug is very safe and reliable, and that even off-label Botox use is not risky when the treatment is performed by a licensed, trained cosmetic professional. However, others state that there is greater risk involved with off-label Botox injections being used as unapproved treatments. In fact, just earlier this year, Botox was ordered to include a black-box warning label on its package—to better inform patients about its potential risks and side effects.
So how is Botox purported to treat and improve acne-prone skin? Read on to learn more.
Dr. Anil Shah of Chicago was perhaps the first doctor in the U.S. to use Botox injections as an acne treatment. According to Dr. Shah, Botox fights breakouts and acne flare-ups by "blocking the chemical acetylcholine in the skin's dermis". Acetylcholine has been tied to oil, or sebum, production in skin glands. Overproduction of sebum is one of the common causes of acne. Dr. Shah goes into further detail about this in his study: "Use of Intradermal Botulinum Toxin to Reduce Sebum Production and Facial Pore Size," which was published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.
The need for skill, experience and precision is of the utmost importance when injecting Botox for acne. This is because the injections need to be made at several varying points on the face, and they need to be made in the thin, uppermost layer of skin. Younger patients and those with weak facial muscles may not be candidates for Botox injections for acne.
As mentioned above, teens and patients with muscle weakness will likely be turned away for treatment. Otherwise, treatment candidates are typically those suffering from adult acne, who are healthy and who have healthy facial muscles as well.
One of the main problems in treating acne with Botox injections is that, in order to be effective against acne, the toxin needs to be injected into several points throughout the facial skin. This creates a higher probability of the toxin spreading to sensitive areas such as the mouth or around the eyes. When this happens, the toxin can create side effects such as droopy facial muscles. For this reason, Botox acne injections should not be used in the bottom portion of patients' faces, but rather in the upper facial skin areas.
Before undergoing Botox injections, be they for wrinkle removal, excessive sweating, muscle spasms or acne, it's best to meet with a professional cosmetic provider or dermatologist to assess your individual skin conditions. At a patient consultation, your skin care provider can determine if Botox is the best treatment for your acne, if Epiduo or Proactiv is all that's needed, or if Blue Light Therapy, Chemical Peels, IPL Photofacial or Microdermabrasion is your key to clearer skin.
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