The use of botulinum toxin for facial cosmetic enhancement has established its new image as a glamour drug.
|Use of Botox for facial lines has increased by 1500% in the last 4 years.|
|British Medical Journal|
In addition, its unlicensed use is increasing dramatically for certain conditions, ahead of clear scientific evidence.
In the United Kingdom, it is an effective and safe treatment for facial spasms and excessive sweating, with few side effects.
It may also be useful in several conditions for which it does not yet have a license.
In the United States, the toxin was licensed this year for facial lines or wrinkles; its use for facial lines has increased by 1500% over the past 4 years.
Furthermore, the revenue from the global sales of Botox has increased from $25m in 1993, to $310m in 2001, and is predicted to be $430m in 2002. The biggest area of growth has been in dermatology.
Popular magazines and newspapers regularly report its use by celebrities from the film, television, and music industries.
Dr Peter Misra of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, England, concludes, "Given such hype it is unsurprising that a recent study found that 23% of patients seeking treatment with botulinum toxin at a dermatology clinic had body dysmorphic disorder, and psychotherapy was considered the more appropriate treatment for them".
"In this atmosphere of "Botox parties", it is easy to forget that botulinum toxin is a potent neurotoxin and that its very long term effects are still unknown".