Non-verbal communication is a feature of human beings that transcends language and culture. It is instantaneous, as fast as the speed of light and relays information about basic states of mind – I’m cross, I’m afraid, I’m happy, I’m sad. Not all of these expressions suit our modern way of life and can exert a negative feedback on the face and the mind. Research tells us that sad people become less sad when their frown is smoothed out. Often overuse of the facial muscles can cause pain or dysfunction for example headaches, migraines, TMJ syndromes, tooth grinding and atypical facial pain.
For the last thirty years we have been successfully using botulinum toxin to selectively relax muscles of the face resulting in a more relaxed, aesthetic look but to control distressing pain syndromes, dental disease, anxiety and depressive conditions.
In the same way that we can control overuse of the facial muscles, we can also control other organs that overexpress themselves under conditions of stress. Excess perspiration can be severely socially disabling and responds well to the use of botulinum toxin.
The word “toxin” can be very alarming and has been overhyped by the media. The dosage is extremely small and the product incredibly pure. The toxin remains in the muscle for just a few days after injection and does not move around the body. It is eliminated by the general detoxification system of the body.
By preventing excess movement of the face, the constant wearing action of the muscles against the tissues is reduced and the face remains more youthful for longer. It’s like taking care of your favourite cashmere jumper.
The effects of toxin are to stop the downwards pull of the facial muscles, thereby allowing the lifting muscles to elevate the face freely. The frown area, upper forehead and eye muscles pull down so by “freezing” these the face can be lifted and the eyes made more open.
Other areas can also be treated; the chewing muscle is frequently overused in conditions of stress causing headaches, jaw pain and dysfunction of the TMJ. The overdevelopment of the muscle is sometimes so great that the muscle alters the shape of the face giving quite a square, heavy jaw.
Likewise the platysma, a fine muscle that runs between the jawline and the collar bone can tighten, pulling on the skin and distorting the silhouette or causing unsightly threads. This area also responds well to toxin, often known as the “Nefertiti lift”.