Even when a product works great, there tends to be a modern desire to find an alternative that’s cheaper and more natural. An equation with solutions rare in the real world, consumers are yet spurred on by a desire to be natural and avoid “scary chemicals,” like Botox.
To be fair to the consumer, Botox is a neurotoxin, but the application is completely safe and the results predictable. Plastic surgeons utilize Botox because the substance is extremely powerful at temporarily freezing facial muscles that lead to wrinkles. Beyond this use, Botox has found it’s way successfully into other arenas, including helping fight migraines, bruxism (teeth grinding), and even over-sweating in the armpits and hands.
Regardless of its seemingly miraculous ability to affect great change at the mere cost of an injection, Botox continues to be an “enemy” of those looking to be au naturel. In this attempt to outdo science with mildly informed assumptions, a host of vacuous alternatives crop up in all sorts of beauty magazines and websites. Board certified plastic surgeons discuss one such article – “7 Natural Ways to Avoid Botox” – on the latest episode of No Spin Live.
Sugar, Fruit Juice, and… Acupuncture?
The article begins its list with suggestions to scrub your face with a sugar solution and use pineapple and lemon juice as an astringent. This may or may not have any observable impact on the skin, but it certainly has little to do with achieving what Botox achieves. The article goes on to list “cosmetic acupuncture” as another option. If someone is prepared to stick a bunch of needles into their face, why not only one or two with some Botox to actually affect change?
“I think the article should be, ‘7 Ways to Waste Your Money On Things That Probably Don’t Work’,” says board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Pozner. “These articles come out periodically in a bunch of the journals and then you’ll find your patients coming in asking about x, y, and z. None of this replaces what we do in our office. Nothing replaces skincare, nothing replace Botox or fillers right now.”
Finally, the article addresses a potential alternative to Botox, the Frownie. The Frownie is a patch marketed to place on wrinkles to lessen their intensity during sleep. While the theory seems to jive with Botox’s aim to soften wrinkles, the kind of “rejuvenation” from keeping a wrinkle physically restrained on the surface of the skin over night is dubious at best. Botox is a neurotoxin specifically formulated to freeze muscles in elegant but yet complicated biochemical fashion.
And Botox is just the basics. If patients want severe and permanent wrinkle reduction, energy needs to be involved to heat the skin, or surgery to remove it. “Unfortunately, if you can’t use heat, a filler, or [Botox], you’re not going to ever get the visual change patients want or we expect,” shares board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Whitfield of Austin.
Facial Exercising, AKA What Causes Wrinkles in the First Place
Perhaps the most bizarre and offensively wrong suggestion in the article is to move the muscles in the face, or “exercise.” Facial movement claims to help loosen wrinkles and provide a smoother surface.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Facial movements over decades is the direct cause of wrinkles. In essence, the article is suggesting that patients who want to rid themselves of wrinkles should do exactly what causes wrinkles in the first place. Fix a problem by making it worse?
“Facial exercising to prevent facial aging…” starts board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Peter Fodor. “Actually, the more you move your facial muscles and the more dynamic your faces are, the more you’re stretching the skin and doing exactly what you set out not to do!”
In the end, list style articles are probably more aimed at acquiring clicks and eyeballs rather than promulgating useful information. Even so, modern wive’s tales do have a pervasive nature that unfortunately works itself into legitimate settings, confusing patients who would otherwise be sold immediately on the efficacy and results of Botox. Patients need remember that as powerful as the Internet can be in terms of researching the latest and greatest cosmetic procedures, a healthy dose of skepticism is certainly required.