Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Botox bites back – great!

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-04-20

It’s good news for those who deserve it, and bad news for those who deserve it.

I’ve thought that you had to be brain-damaged to even consider using botox for cosmetic reasons, as Clostridia (both botulinum and tetanus) were among the nastiest toxins we studied in microbiology.  Now evidence is emerging that nerve damage is migrating from the site of botox injections, travelling back UP the nerves.

I good potted summary of recent findings about botox travelling back up nerves from the site of injections is found in Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9, 325 ( May 2008 ) | doi:10.1038/nrn2384 which you can read for free if you register for a password.

The toxin prevents neurotransmitter vesicles from being formed, so messages cannot travel from one nerve to another (or to a muscle).  If the toxin is subject to retrograde transport, this can be great news for some people who take botulinus neurotoxin A for some really nasty muscular diseases.

It’s also good news for those who attack the way the cosmetic medical industry encourages people to spend big money on risky procedures (not just botox, but also surgery) by inducing what I’d call pathological neuroses about self-image in vulnerable people.

Perhaps this might make health insurers think twice before offering coverage to cosmetic procedures except where clinically warranted (such as for people who have suffered major injuries).

You might say I’m heartless, but I’ve no sympathy for people who get adverse effects from medical practices carried out for pure vanity – whether it is from botox, a nose job, or breast enlargement.  The more they suffer, the quicker the obscene medicalizing of vanity will go away.


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