Botox Changes Your Brain?

A new study has shown some new unexpected and puzzling side-effects of botox.

Regular readers of this blog know I’m no fan of cosmetic medical procedures. The drive to make those changes is simply a dollar-driven industry that harms women in the long run, and I don’t get how doctors who pledge to ‘first do no harm’ can sleep at night after injecting their patients with the deadliest poison we know, all to make their wrinkles seem to disappear. So read this knowing I’m not a fan in any way, and that I believe the rush to use botox is a symptom of negative body image.

This study is pointing to some puzzling changes in the brain, caused by botox, and is raising the question: are the changes permanent, given that botox treatment tends to be repeated several times a year for many years.

Remember that we now know the brain is ‘plastic’. Remember the stories you’ve heard about a blind person having excellent hearing? That’s because the area of the brain that controls vision essentially gets quieter, and the area controlling hearing grows more active, to compensate for the loss of a sense – it’s a really cool survival strategy, and it’s automatic. The body just does it, to increase your chances of surviving for longer.

It’s how people whose brains are damaged by stroke or injury can learn to walk or talk again – the brain rewires itself and builds a new map of the body, making one part of the map ‘wider’ to compensate for the damage. So when a part of the body is injured, another part of the body kind of takes up the slack.

And if you are an expert in one activity, your brain reflects that. For example, professional violinists’ brains are more active in the region controlling fingers than the brains of non-players.

And here’s where it starts to get interesting in relation to botox. The area of the brain that controls the face is right next to the area of the brain the controls the hands. Usually if someone has a face injury the hand part of the brain’s body map gets wider. For some reason, people who have been injected with botox have it the other way around: the hand map gets smaller when the face muscles are paralysed by botox.

The study stopped there – it didn’t investigate whether other parts of the brain body map are affected, and it’s not yet known what effect this may have on the body.

But for me just because we don’t understand the long-term impact of a botox side-effect, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be very wary of putting the stuff into our bodies. So tick this one up to caution, and do your face exercises instead!

And if you want to read more about this study, click here.


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