Since ancient times to the present day, women and men have been desperately searching for the fountain of youth. The Renaissance women would extract toxins called alkaloids from the Belladonna plant, also known as Deadly Nightshade, to dilate their pupils with the hopes of creating a sign of sexual arousal. The dreadful side effects of using the most deadly plant in the Western Hemisphere are blurry vision, blindness, entering a coma, or death. The alkaloid compound also affects the function of nervous system by disrupting important signals to the body causing an irregular heartbeat, and labored breathing from respiratory distress.
In the Egyptian culture nearly 3,500 years ago, men would create a concoction of fat from lions, crocodiles, and geese and thickly slather onto a barren head to cure baldness. Egyptian women wore Kohl, a crushed metal and other compounds including copper and ash to color their upper and lower eyelids to appear to have a more almond shape. It was also believe to improve eyesight and reduce eye infections.
Even Hippocrates the famous Greek physician of the fifth century would apply sheep urine to his scalp in hopes his hair would return. The ancient Greeks and Romans were the first to create their own foundation makeup using white lead and chalk to create a pale cast to their skin to ascertain their high ranking position of not having to toil in the fields as the slaves. Unfortunately the lead that was used caused death by poison.
Today, in modern times, most people apply topical creams to enhance their youthful appearance. Creams for wrinkles such as crows feet (lateral canthal) and laugh lines (nasolabial folds) are easy to apply, but have a limited effect because they do not penetrate deep enough into the skins innermost layer, they only smooth the lines. The skin has three layers. The outermost layer is the epidermis, which is about as thick as a piece of paper, contain pores and are the oldest cells. These skin cells become dry, flake off and are replaced by newer cells. As we age, the cells are not replaced as often and the outer layer becomes thinner.
The dermis is the dense layer of tissue beneath the epidermis, which varies in thickness from 0.5 millimeters on the eyelid to 1.5 millimeters on the thicker portion of the body such as the back, and connects the epidermis and dermis by tightly connected membranes. The dermis consists of resilient connective tissue called elastic fibers, which cushion the body from strains and contain collagen. These fibers are important to the skin maintaining its youthful, taut appearance.
The innermost layer is the fatty region called the subcutaneous or hypodermis layer which contains blood vessels, protect organs, bones, and helps regulate body temperature. This layers main function is to connect the skin to the underlying bones and muscle.
As we age, older skin becomes damaged and less resilient and damage occurs, leading to a decline in skin elasticity, due to damage in the dermis. The results are sagging and wrinkling. Environment, genetics and external factors also play a part of the breakdown of skin.
Today, there are variety injectable medications to help prevent wrinkles, such as Botox and dermal fillers. In 1990 Dr. Jean Carruthers, an ophthalmologist observed in her patients that while using the toxin Botox, her patients had fewer wrinkles around their eyes and brows while using the medication for spastic eye muscles and misaligned eyes. From 1987 – 1990 Dr. Carruthers enrolled 30 patients to participate in Botox treatments for wrinkle reduction and then published her findings in the Journal of Dermatology Surgery and Oncology. After years of persistent work and research, Botox was finally approved by the FDA for the treatment of temporary wrinkle reduction in the Unites States in 2002.
Botox is a medication that contains the inactive form of botulism toxin A, the same toxin responsible for botulism. When Botox is used therapeutically or cosmetically, poisoning does not occur because the injected medication is used in its purified form, which means there are no living organisms being injected. The amount of toxins injected is very small compared to the amount needed for a lethal dose.
Since Botox is considered a surgical procedure, only a licensed physician can inject the medicine. Once injected into the desired area, it paralyzes specific nerves that control the facial muscle because the toxin attaches to nerve endings and prevent neurotransmitters from triggering muscle contractions. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that communicates information between nerve cells, and without this, the muscle is unable to exchange information.
Botox begins to take effect in four to seven days and wears off in three to four months. If injections are used consistently, the effects can last up to a year. Reports have been made that with continued use, Botox stimulates collagen because the muscle is not being contracted. Collagen adds volume to the face and provides structure to cells. Without collagen, the face will sag and wrinkle.
Botox and facial fillers are sometimes used in conjunction with each other to add extra volume to larger sagging areas. Fillers serve the same purpose as Botox but there are many types of fillers based on particle size and how long the product will remain in the face. How long filler will last depends on the individual’s skin quality and muscle movement. If filler is injected into a site where there is a lot of muscle movement, it is less likely to last as long as a site with less movement.
Injecting a patient with their own body fat versus other skin fillers has the advantage of little risk of allergic reactions. Also greater volumes of fat can be used to fill deeper wrinkles and contours. Over time, this must be redone because the body will absorb about half of the fat within six months after the treatment.
Collagen filler used for injections is often bovine-based, which means it is derived from cows and the FDA approved the collagen filler in 1981. Since collagen is not extracted from the patient’s body, there is a greater risk of allergic reaction. After mild swelling of the skin due to the injection, the skin should appear more smooth and taut. This type of filler has been reported to have a short duration of three months.
A cosmetic drug administered not in accordance with a complete understanding by a practitioner can have disastrous consequences. To obtain a substantial cost efficient treatment combined with an acceptable economical option for the consumer, one should thoroughly discuss all possibilities with a trusted and licensed physician for proper evaluation for safety, any possible side effects and the duration of product to get a natural look which will be long lasting.