How Does Botox Work?1
Botox® works by paralyzing the muscles that is come into contact with. Botox® actually blocks the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is essential for muscle contraction.
Wrinkles are caused by multiple factors, including aging, sun damage, smoking, poor hydration, and facial muscle contraction! When a facial muscle contracts, the skin overlying that muscle is pulled along with that muscles. This movement can cause that overlying skin to form a crease. Over time, the skin crease becomes a permanent part of the face. Injecting a small amount of Botox® into the facial muscles underlying visible wrinkles, Botox® prevents contraction of those muscles. This prevents their contraction and, in turn, prevents them from creating wrinkles in the overlying skin.
In addition to treating visible wrinkles, Botox® can actually be used to prophylactically prevent wrinkle formation. This works in the manner previously described except that Botox® is injected into muscles known to commonly cause wrinkles thus preventing muscle contraction and preventing the formation of overlying wrinkles.
This mechanism of action is also what makes Botox® potentially deadly. (See Potential Complications of Botox® for more information). Generally, however, Botox® is very safe for use on patients.