In a study published in this month's issiue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a team led by Professor David Sherris at the University of Buffalo in New York revealed that its research work showed that the botox injections can do more than just help prevent wrinkles.
Professor Sherris said that the research work carried out at the Mayo Clinic during the past seven years had culminated in the first blinded trial demonstrating that injecting botox during the wound healing process results in less visible scars.
"The reason this works is because wide scars are the result of the local muscles pulling the wound apart during the healing phase," Professor Sherris said.
"Botunlinum toxin temporarily weakens the surrounding muscles, thereby lessening the pull on the wound during the acute healing phase of the first 2-4 months."
The trial involved patients with facial wounds or those undergoing cancer surgery. The researchers chose only patients having treatment to their foreheads because this area is particularly susceptible to scarring.
Patients were assigned randomly to receive botox and a saline solution as injections to the area 24 hours after the wound was closed. They were then photographed after the treatment had been administered, followed by more photos six months later.
Two facial plastic surgeon not involved with the treatment were then asked to assess wound healing. They rated the wound healing process on a scale from one to ten, with ten representing the best results. The research team then averaged the scores awarded by the two surgeons to get the final result.
The results showed that the surgeons scored a median of 8.9 for the wounds treated with botox and 7.1 for the saline treated wounds.
"This is the first medication found to minimize scarring," said Professor Sherris. "The result is of substantial interest in the field of scar treatment. When a wound occurs, especially on the face, people are always worried about a scar. We can now try to improve scars with these injections."
Although botox has already been approved by the US FDA as an anti-wrinkle treatment, Sherris says he is acting as the principal investigator on a multi-centered US FDA to approve the technique in the treatment of wounds. The next step will be to seek approval by the European regulation authorities.
Sherris also pointed out that the process could be used to treat parts of the body other than the face.
Botox treatments continue to take both Europe and the US by storm, with millions of procedures now taking place every month. The fact that it might also be used to help clear up facial and body scars is likely to lead to its popularity growing still further, if it gets the go-ahead from regulatory authorities.