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Botox

How Does Botox Work?

Botox is a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. The drug works by decreasing nerve signals to muscles, which helps them to relax. Botox enters nerve cells and inhibits the release of acetylcholine, a chemical that transmits signals from nerve to nerve. The actions of the drug are not permanent, and the muscle will eventually recover and return to its previous state.
For severe sweating, Botox works similarly, blocking the release of acetylcholine from the nerve cells that stimulate the sweat glands.

Effects of Botox

Studies have evaluated Botox to treat frown lines between the eyebrows. In studies, up to 82 percent of people who received injections saw significant improvement one week afterward, compared to just 9 percent who had received placebo injections (which did not contain any active ingredient). This effect lasted for at least 60 days, after which time the effects appear to gradually decrease. At 120 days after the injections, 39 percent of people who received Botox still saw improvement.
Studies have also shown Botox to be effective for treating crow's feet.
For cervical dystonia (muscle spasms of the head and neck), studies showed that Botox injections help relieve neck pain and abnormal head positioning, compared to placebo injections (which contain no active ingredient). In most people, the beneficial effects were gone after about three months.
Studies of Botox for severe underarm sweating showed that up to 86 percent of people who received injections decreased their sweat production by 50 percent or more, compared to up to 45 percent of people receiving placebo injections (with no active ingredient). The beneficial effects lasted an average of 200 days.
Studies have also shown that Botox can improve eyelid twitching or spasms (blepharospasm) and misaligned eyes (strabismus) caused by abnormal muscle contractions.
Studies have shown that Botox can decrease urine accidents in people with neurologic bladder problems and in people with overactive bladder, and can decrease the frequency of urination in people with overactive bladder. 
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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