11/07/02 - Botox: ATemporary Fountain of Youth?

Would you let someone inject poison into your face? Actually, millions are paying people to do just that.
By now you've heard of Botox, designed to iron out your wrinkles. But, now parties are popping up in the Heartland where people get together for those injections. Botox parties are new to the Heartland, but they seem to be catching on. At first it looks like a normal party, a group of women get together, have some hors d'oeuvres, and good conversation. But then, they take their turn getting up to eight Botox injections.
Dr. Tom Critchlow says, "It's the most poisonous poison known to mankind." A poison that you will find in spas and doctor's offices across the Heartland. But Dr. Critchlow says when used cosmetically, Botox is safe. "We can inject it in the lines around the eyes, right there in the crow's feet, under the eye so it opens up the eye, so the muscles don't work and the wrinkles go away," Dr. Critchlow says. Linda Hollis' crows feet bother her every day she looks in the mirror. She hopes Botox is the answer to taking them away. Hollis says, "I don't feel my age, I've been told I don't act my age, and I don't want to look my age."
Dr. Critchlow takes before pictures, and then it's time to go. "We'll do three for the crow's feet, one underneath the eye," he says. Hollis will get eight injections. It all starts with a vial of botulinum toxin. They like to use it before it gets too hot or too cold because it will lose it's potency. But the vial isn't cheap, it costs around $500. Which means injections aren't cheap. Depending on where you go, one unit costs ten dollars. There are four to six units in one shot, and it can take anywhere from 20 to 36 units to get the job done.
But is forking out the cash the only thing you need to worry about? Not exactly. Like all cosmetic procedures, Botox comes with risks. It may cause some bruising. If it's injected into the wrong muscle, it can cause a droopy eyebrow, or even a droopy eyelid. It's been found in a few extreme cases, to temporarily cause a lopsided smile, or drooling around the mouth. If it's overused, it can cause your face to lose it's normal expression and appear like a mask. You can also develop antibodies to Botox, which overtime, can cause it to not work as well, or not at all. And, it's temporary. A patient has to be re-injected with Botox every three to six months if she wants to keep up the look.
Despite the risks, Hollis is happy she had it done. A week after the injections, it's time for her after picture. Hollis may want a copy of the photo. She says, "when I smile, the lines don't go up all the way up, and my eyes are up more." So far, Hollis hasn't had any problems and she says she doesn't feel any different, but there have been no major studies on the long-term effects of Botox for cosmetic use. Researchers will likely be watching to see what happens with Hollis and millions like her.
There are other doctors in the Heartland who do Botox injections, but not all agree with Botox parties. Some say a party like atmosphere isn't safe, and may cause women to do it out of peer pressure.
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