When I was in a class years ago in counselling school about helping clients with depression, the lecturer shared one weird way that had been proven an effective part of a treatment to help lift the fog. For me, it also paved the way for the discovery of some unexpected botox side effects (and discovering a real, healthy and long-term alternative).
The method she shared was this:
- have the client clamp a pencil in their mouth, sideways
- keep it there for at least a few minutes – up to 20 a day, for best effect
- This action activates pathways in the brain that trigger endorphins, some of the brain’s feel-good chemicals.
Paralyse Your Muscles, Paralyse Your Feelings?
Obviously it’s not the pencil that triggers the release of the feel-better chemicals, it’s the movement of the muscles at the side of the face, including the ones around your eyes that make them crinkle up when you smile (and yes, cause wrinkles over time).
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison got curious about this, and wondered if the muscles we use to show our emotions also affect the way we feel our emotions.
The current popularity of botox presented a large population of study subjects.
To investigate possible botox side effects on mood, researchers asked 40 women who were waiting to have Botox injections for the first time to read 60 sentences on a computer and press a key when they understood each sentence.
Two weeks later when the muscle-paralysing effect of botox was highest, the women were asked to repeat the experiment.
And what they found was that every woman was slower (about 1/10th of a second) to understand the “sad” sentences than they had been before the injections. It’s an unexpected side effect of botox, one no one talks about!
[There is an alternative to botox – read on.]
Maybe They Were Just Happier?
So does that mean the women were just happier after the treatment, perhaps feeling more confident or happier about their appearance?
The researchers did mood-analysis studies to rule out that possibility. So – no.
1/10th of a second isn’t much, so probably wouldn’t have that much of a negative effect on your life, right?
And might feeling happier with botox-imposed less-wrinkled skin mean we can get off the prozac?
No again. Our brains are so highly tuned to monitor other people’s subtle non-verbal cues during a conversation that we interpret others’ signals in just microseconds.
So what happens when a response is a whole 1/10th of a second slow?
How might you feel if it was your partner being so unresponsive, especially if it went on for days… weeks… months?
Or your doctor?
How about your boss?
How might your partner feel if YOU appeared to be unresponsive?
How would your children feel?
Or your girlfriend?
Lead researcher at Wisconsin, David Havas said the study confirmed that our facial expressions also guide how we interpret what other people are saying!
And it confirms the unease I expressed in an earlier post about speaking with botox-frozen-faced people.
But botox side effects do get worse, I reckon…
I was speaking this week with a colleague whose leg cast has just come off – she had five breaks in her right shin when she landed badly after a sky dive.
She is a super fit very strong exercise physiologist. The repair surgery was extensive, leaving her with a bolt through her ankle that will stay there for good.
She’s been conscious to use all her learning and the skills of her staff, also all exercise physiologists, to keep her body at the strength she likes it during her long recovery.
She knew her broken leg was losing muscle strength and now the cast was off she was amused to point out that her right thigh muscle was so much smaller than her left, because despite having all the access anyone could ever need to degree-qualified exercise experts, she hadn’t been able to move it as much.
I bet you had a similar experience with a friend in childhood – they broke an arm and after the cast came off their broken arm was much thinner and weaker. For my colleague, the muscles in her leg shrank because they were not moving.
Immobilised Muscles Shrink!
As I asked in the earlier post, what will happen to facial muscles that are unable to move because they are paralysed?
They will shrink, of course. Just like leg or arm muscles immobilised in a cast shrink.
The muscles of our face give our faces tone and shape and hold our skin in place. If the muscles shrink, your skin gets looser.
Hello butt fat injections into your face to prop up the loose skin and worse-looking wrinkles now that the muscles holding up your skin have shrunk!
And soon, a full-on face-lift with all the risks of surgery, permanent nerve damage and you know, looking like someone other than you!
It’s a never-ending source of income for the person providing the services, and an endless drain on your wallet and your wellbeing.
To me it’s a logical conclusion that if you inject with botox, side effects are:
- Your face muscles will shrink over time.
- You will end up with loose sagging skin
- Your current wrinkles will look worse when the botox wears off (and have you thought about where the botox goes?)
- This will plug you in to an endless round of cosmetic procedures.
- This will cost you time, money, anxiety and pain in the long run – lots of all of it I reckon…
DISCLAIMER: I’m a counselor who helps women with negative body image issues learn to love and nurture their bodies instead of hate and abuse themselves.
I’m not an exercise physiologist or a cosmetic surgeon, so I’m not an expert in those fields. But I do know for sure that a short-term fix like botox is never the answer to feeling good about yourself, and this research is showing us some less-than-desirable and unexpected botox side effects.
An application of common sense shows that even in just a couple of years, the actual botox side effects on the way a person’s face looks could be devastating….
Is it worth it? And in light of a recent study about botox changing the brain, I have to ask again – is it worth it?
What’s The Alternative to Botox?
Update: A few people have emailed saying – okay, so what’s the alternative to botox, I want to look as good outside as I feel inside.
I get that, I really do.
Recently during series 2 of The Body Image Revolution I interviewed the gorgeous Carolyn Cleaves about her facial fitness system.
It is an easy facial muscle exercise program that even plastic surgeons are recommending to their patients whose facial muscles have – guess what – atrophied because of being paralysed!
Carolyn knows her stuff! She teaches you about the many muscles in the face, how to strengthen and build them, and her system can be done in five minutes a day.
Think of that – never use botox again, your whole face looks younger, all parts of your face move, your emotions stay healthy, and Carolyn swears that wrinkles get shallower.
Check our her photo – she’s 62 in this photo!! (I just checked out her blog, seems she’s not a selfie-taker – boooo!)
But be sure to check out the before and after shots!
And remember lovely lady – you are so much more than a pretty face. If you’re ageing you’re doing something RIGHT because you’re still here! You’re not losing a single thing lovely – you’re gaining wisdom, experience, hopefully learning to love and accept yourself more – and honestly you don’t need botox to be good enough. If I can’t convince you, Carolyn might. 🙂
The End 🙂