This is a redemption story that requires patience; the redemption takes some strange twists to reach its destiny. Cosmetic injection seemed to have been born under a bad star on the wrong side of the tracks. It was only by the perseverance of others that its redemption was finally achieved. Its life began on the very dark side of the tracks and it would always have this wild side; buried deep in its core. In the beginning, it was like a lethal poison in a bottle.
Table of Contents
- Cosmetic Injections: The Beginning
- Redemption Starts for Cosmetic Injections
- Cosmetic Injections For Cosmetic Purposes
- Side Effects of Cosmetic Injections
- Avoiding Side Effects of Cosmetic Injections
- What To Do After a Cosmetic Procedure
These days, one would consider him a serial killer. When he was born over a century ago, or rather, when he was first discovered long ago, for he was already in the neighborhood for a long time, no one knew who he was and the term, serial killer, did not yet exist. Never the less, he was a killer by means of a miserable progression of paralysis and death. The lethal dose is very small: just one to two nanograms (billionths of a gram) per kilogram injected into blood or muscle tissue, or 10 to 13 nanograms per kilogram if inhaled or ingested (the typical means of infection of botulism). As a result, just about everyone with whom he became acquainted soon met with tragedy, suffering paralysis and death.
Given that beginning, it would have seemed impossible to ever find his way over the iron rails to the other side; to redemption. As was said, he could not accomplish the crossing on his own; he would have continued in his mold as a vicious and indiscriminate killer had others not intervened.
Justinius Kerner, a German writer, sometime in the mid-nineteenth century found that Sausage Poison was the source of severe illness and death caused by the ingestion of meat products that were not handled and processed properly. The record varies in description of Kerner’s medical qualifications. Some claim he was a trained physician, and it appears he did earn a medical degree; others imply he merely wrote about medical subjects. In any event, he only discovered cause, but was far from a remedy. Sausage Poison continued his campaign of death across the world.
In 1895, a Belgian bacteriologist, Emile van Ermengem, traced Sausage Poison’s origin to his mother, a bacterium, which Ermengem named Clostradium botulinium. He gave the wild child the name Botulinium Toxin. He had recently caused the paralysis and death of many people, all of whom had eaten of the same ham. B.T. was, indeed, a serial killer who went on for the next century, wreaking his havoc.
The redemption began in the 1960’s when an American, Dr. Alan Scott, an ophthalmologist, building on work by others from the 1940’s, first discovered a possible practical and therapeutic use of the deadly botulinium toxin by an empirical calculation of its dosage well below the lethal concentrations indicated above, by proposing to treat patients with a muscular condition of misaligned — “crossed” — eyes and others who suffered from uncontrollable blinking of their eyes. He gave it the therapeutic name, BTX-A, during his experimental trials, but by 1980, when experimentation with his treatment was first applied to human patients. Forever more, his relation to the dark side would be buried deeper and deeper into the past.
Later discoveries by other researchers, who further refined safe and effective dosages, found use treat excessive sweating, and then other muscular tissue maladies, some even relating to cerebral palsy. Finally, in 1989, Dr. Richard Clark, an American plastic surgeon, used it to treat cosmetically-flawed patients to treat wrinkles in the skin. Sausage Poison was finally redeemed, even though in his original, wild and high-dosage form, he is still a lethal killer. Fortunately, it’s redemption has been a carefully standardized, regulated dosage of the toxin which makes his dark side impossible to re-emerge. In this respect, it is similar to the development of a myriad of vaccines which are, rather than therapy by a combating formula against a particular disease like polio or small pox, is actually a very carefully controlled, minute dosage of the virus or bacteria causing the disease. The dosage is small enough for the body’s immune system to build up sufficient immunities to combat the disease in its applied infancy. Just so, Sausage Poison cannot cross back over to the wild, dark side of the tracks as long as its tightly regulated safe dosage is applied to resolve a multitude of skin conditions.
Different types of injectable cosmetic fillers are now on the market to resolve, even temporarily, the effects of fine lines and wrinkles, particularly in the face. Anti-wrinkle injections are a topical injectable fluid and its use in cosmetic therapy is to reduce lines and wrinkles, it is not, strictly speaking, a “filler” in that it does not fill skin depressions to smooth the skin surface.
As mentioned, anti-wrinkle medicine is injected topically into the muscle to prevent muscle contraction and thus lessen the effect of lines and wrinkles in the forehead, around the eyes, from the nostrils to the corners of the mouth and from the corners of the mouth toward the chin, and in the neck.
Crossed and lazy eyes, and uncontrollable blinking were related issues that were Dr. Alan Scott’s primary cause of research into the benefits of botulinium toxin applied at controlled and regulated dosages by direct, topical injection. His experiments over twenty years proved successful.
Involuntary muscle contractions: Once Dr. Clark had proven the effective use of botulinium toxin in his ophthalmology practice, others researched related muscular defects in other areas of the body, considering that muscle function, whether voluntary or not, followed a consistent pattern. They realized that issues such as cerebral palsy, which exhibited involuntary flexure of muscles in limbs, could be treated with B.T. topical injections. Though temporary in effect, which required repeated treatments, their efforts were successful.
Dysfunctional bladder issues are found to be successfully treated by muscle relaxant injections to prevent incontinence.
Frequent migraine headaches: Though not yet clearly understood why it is effective, researchers are finding that muscle relaxant injections have the effect of relieving severe, chronic headaches.
And in one of the first applications of synthesized botulinium toxin, sweat glands were shown to react favourably to injections to discontinue excessive perspiration, particularly when neither environment nor vigorous exercises were present conditions.
While considering the near miracle that is cosmetic treatment in these and other applications, it cannot be ignored that there are potential side effects and risks related to cosmetic treatment. If side effects occur – and they may not – they may express different conditions depending on the purpose of treatment. For its first applications to reduce excessive sweating and involuntary muscle contraction, and in the more recent discovery of relief of migraine, neck and back pain, fever, allergic reaction or infection of the treatment area may be expressed. If the treatment is for lines and wrinkles, there may be topical pain, bruising, bleeding and headaches, and more severe reactions including breathing difficulties and possible infection, muscle sagging at the topical treatment area and flu symptoms of aches and pains, nausea and vomiting. Fortunately, all of these side effects are temporary and typically resolve themselves in a few days without further treatment to cure them.
Also fortunately, the risks of these side effects can be mitigated. A clear understanding by discussion with the treatment professional – it must be advised that in no instance should cosmetic injections be self-injected! – prior to the procedure is essential to understand exactly what will occur, who will perform the treatment, what preparations are necessary, the relative health of the patient at the time of treatment, what over-the-counter and prescribed medication the patient is currently taking, what to expect during and following the procedure, cautions for recovery and, not to be ignored, the training and professional experience of the professional performing the treatment. Be skeptical of these discussions, or any others, when these issues are discussed with a non-professional. The discussion of current medications will advise the treating professional of possible allergic reaction or conflicting treatment effects potentially caused by the treatment.
Because cosmetic injection is an injection of a bacterial toxin, although in a controlled dose, the immediate reaction in the body will be the production of combating antibodies. Since cosmetic injection typically requires repeated treatments over time, it should be clearly understood that the body will have gradually increased resistance to the toxin and the therapeutic results of cosmetic treatments will decrease over time.
Finally, even though cosmetic injection has been in use in experimentation, and then in therapeutic injection treatment since the 1960’s, and that its effects are well understood relative to muscle and skin tissue, its potential effects on other body systems – cardiological, respiratory, neurological, skeletal – are not yet as clearly understood. However, these last concerns are true of many medical treatments and the overall consideration of cosmetic treatment in particular is that its safety of use is overwhelmingly in its favor.
After the cosmetic injection procedure, there are a few steps the patient should be sure to follow to assure a quick and effective recovery. First, the discussion of the patient’s relative health prior to the procedure should have been frank and complete. Any pre-existing condition and medications considered irrelevant by the patient should still be discussed with the health care professional who will perform the procedure. Proper and normal healthy practices of diet and exercise should be continued after the procedure with one exception: immediately following the procedure, care should be taken to avoid strenuous exercise for at least 24 hours. There should be no downtime to worry about after the injection. All normal activities, except as noted for exercise, should continue without interruption. Some targeted facial exercises may be suggested for a brief period following the injection.
Safe, effective, easy and relatively painless, cosmetic injections have satisfied millions of patients desiring smoother skin, and remedies of other conditions aided by the treatment. The once wild-child serial killer has been tamed by careful but relentless research and experimentation to the point that cosmetic injection is now a decent, dependable contributor to the health and self-esteem of his modern friends and neighbors.