What does the treatment involve?
Botulinum toxin, commonly known as Botox, is a toxin produced by a bacteria that causes botulism, causing temporary muscle paralysis.
This toxin was purified in its day so it could be used for therapeutic purposes. It is used in various specialist areas of medicine, such as neurology, aesthetics and ophthalmology.
When is this treatment indicated?
In the field of ophthalmology, we use it in certain pathologies, such as cases of strabismus, blepharospasm (a condition where the eyes close involuntarily) and in cosmetics to rejuvenate the appearance by treating wrinkles in the periocular area, on the forehead and between the eyebrows.
Regarding strabismus, it is used in acute ocularmotor palsy to minimise the antagonistic muscle contracture of the affected eye and in chronic phases in cases where there is a small residual deviation of the eye. In surgical operations for strabismus, it is also used as a complement in some cases.
Blefarospasm is a chronic condition, the cause of which is not quite known. Patients cannot prevent their eyelids from closing as if it were a "tic" and cannot open them until this "tic" is over. Often they last seconds in which the patient cannot see and therefore cannot go about their normal life. This affects them not only for those moments of "blindness", but it also affects their family, social- and working-relationships with others. Botulinum toxin administration is the treatment of choice in these cases.
In cosmetic surgery, Botulinum Toxin acts on the dynamic wrinkles, which are those that are most noticeable when the muscLes are contracted: crow's feet, between the eyebrows and on the forehead.
How is it performed?
Botox treatment is a very simple procedure.
In cases of blepharospasm, cosmetic treatment and oculomotor palsy, it is an outpatients treatment. It involves Botulinum Toxin injections in the targeted muscle, distributed according to the case and pathology.
The procedure is painless because an anaesthetic cream is applied to the targeted areas of the skin in the case of blepharospasm and cosmetics. Anaesthetic drops are applied for cases of paralysis. The botox injection is administered in under five minutes and the patient leaves the doctor's office by themselves when it is complete.
In cases where Botox is required as a complement to strabismus surgery, depending on the complexity of the case and the age of the patient, local or general anesthesia can be given. These are both outpatients treatments.
The effect of botox can be seen after one week and, like any other medication, it has an average life span of 3 to 6 months, depending on each case.
Due to this, patients who get Botulinum Toxin must see an ophthalmologist to have it administered two or three times per year.
Botox treatment is contraindicated for patients who are hyper sensitive to toxin or have an infection in the area to be injected. In addition, pregnancy, if the mother is breastfeeding, or if the patient is taking any kind of medication interfering with neuromuscular transmission are considered to be relative contraindications (not advised).
It is a very safe drug that does not usually have any adverse effects. It may cause side effects that are local and temporary, but they are very uncommon and easy to solve, such as redness or slight inflammation in the area injected. In this case, the local application of something cold will suffice.
If there are any undesired side effects of toxin, they are temporary.
In light of the foregoing, we can say that it is a safe and effective procedure both for the treatment of the described pathologies as well as for cosmetic purposes.