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The price of beauty How Botox affects the brain

University of Zurich researchers examining the impact of Botox injections have found that it can have a side-effect elsewhere in the brain. (SRF/

Botulinum toxin type A – or Botox as it is commonly known – is one of the strongest poisons around. Botox is used commercially to reduce wrinkles by paralysing the facial muscles, especially in the forehead.

Treating wrinkles with Botox also affects the brain according to a recently published study by the University of Zurich.

The team measured electric signals inside the brain before and after a Botox treatment. If we wrinkle our foreheads or raise our eye brows, we stimulate the brain via the many facial nerves.

When we inject Botox – or Vistabel, as the substance is often called in Europe – it paralyses the muscles for several months. The researchers have concluded that the brain also reacts less to impulses coming from the hands.

The Smoothline cosmetic clinic in Zurich injects up to 30 clients with the substance every day. A Botox treatment takes between 30 minutes and an hour. It can cost around CHF500 ($551).

According to Smoothline’s Dan Iselin, botulinum toxin is one of the most researched active pharmaceutical ingredients in the world. He doubts the significance of the Zurich study and says more test groups would be needed.

When presented with the study findings, Botox producer Allergan told Swiss television that it had not yet observed any loss of sensitivity in people's hands after a Botox treatment. The University of Zurich is continuing its research.

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