Are Botox users becoming dependent?

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Treatment Surgery Plastic surgery

A new study suggests that the continued rise in the use of Botox
injections to prevent wrinkles might be partly attributable to the
fact that many patients find the injections addictive.

Patients wishing to diminish expression wrinkles have been clamoring to get what many users say is the most effective treatment besides invasive surgery to treat visible signs of facial aging.

In North American the treatment is now an established favorite for many women and increasing numbers of men, whereas in Europe countries such as France, Germany and the UK have all seen take up of the treatment at least double in the space of the last two years.

But research carried out by two UK-based experts - Dr. Carter Singh from the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, and consultant plastic surgeon Martin Kelly, of London Plastic Surgery Associates - suggests that because the treatment proves so effective, patients are finding that they are compelled to continue the treatment.

Without continuing the treatment, which freezes the muscles that determine facial expression and wrinkles, patients find that within a few months their wrinkles creep back rapidly.

The study findings, which will be presented at a meeting of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons in London this week, surveyed 81 clinics, interviewing clients who were having Botox treatments, as well as others who were having less radical procedures.

The study found that essentially there was a different approach to aging in people who opted for Botox treatment, with 50 per cent of those individuals expressing a lack of control over the aging process.

As a result over 40 per cent of those individuals also expressed that they had felt a compulsive motive to take the treatment again, mainly because the treatment gave them the appearance and 'feeling' of being younger.

Although Dr. Singh says that Botox has a largely safe profile, he also pointed out that it could lead to potentially addictive properties because of the effect it has on people's self-esteem and sense of well-being.

Doctors first began to use Botox in the 1950s to treat facial twitches. The injections comprise tiny amounts of bovine-sourced poisons that were used to freeze the facial muscles and in turn prevent spasms. However, in administering the treatment it was also discovered that the treatment helped to minimise wrinkling.

Botox started to be used as an anti-wrinkle treatment in the US some ten years ago, since then it has evolved in to a multi-million dollar business.

In the first instance Botox proved to be particularly popular for women in the 40 to 60 age group. However, as it has become more and more popular, so too has the diversification of people taking up on the treatment, with as many as 40 per cent of users being male and many individuals starting to use it in their late 20s.

The treatment, which has to be administered by a qualified professional, lasts anything from eight weeks to eight months, depending on how individuals react to the injection. In 2003 an estimated 2.9 million Botox injections were administered in the US, and demand for the treatment is still growing rapidle.

In Europe demand is growing at an equally rapid rate, with Mintel estimating that uptake rose 50 per cent in the UK market in 2005 to reach an estimated 100,000 treatments.

Related topics Market Trends Skin Care

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