Botox is usually just thought to paralyze the muscles where it is injected but, new research is showing that it is doing much more than that. Dr. James Bonaparte, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada recently found that people who use botox have an increase in the elasticity of their skin. This elasticity seems to be coming from an increase in elastin and collagen, which are normal parts of the skin. Collagen and elastin are important components of our skin that keep our skin strong and give it elasticity.
Normally when we age, the production of collagen and elastin tends to decrease and repeated facial expressions can cause wrinkles. While botox has been known to smooth out wrinkles for some, time this recent finding that botox increases elasticity was unexpected. The increase in elasticity was discovered in a study involving 48 women with an average age of 55 years old. These women received botox between the eyebrows and around the eyes and were followed for 4 months. Dr. Bonaparte found that the stretchiness and elastic recoil was increased by the botox and that the women’s faces mimicked more youthful skin. He also found that the increase in elasticity was not a byproduct of inflammation or swelling caused by the botox shots which was previously thought to be the cause.
Unfortunately the effect is temporary and lasts as long as the effectiveness of the botox which is about 3-4 months. While the way this works is unknown, Dr. Bonaparte believes that the cells that create elastin and collagen might have a receptor for botox. If this is true it means that there might be a potential for a future drug that can help the elasticity of skin as we age. Some other theories are that botox might be an antioxidant which could help neutralize the waste products of the muscles and allows the skin to heal or that inactivity of the muscles caused by botox allows collagen and elastin to be repaired.
The next steps of this research will be to see if repeated use of botox can have long-term benefits on the collagen and elastin in the face. Prior studies have shown that long time users of botox need less botox and this might be explained by a prolonged increase in collagen and elastin.
For more information see: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_152673.html