Editorial: Botox branding

Botox treatments are increasingly popular among younger women as a pre-emptive measure.

That our society’s fear of aging has progressed — or, rather, regressed — to the point where young women in their teens and twenties are now considering Botox treatments to be an essential part of their regular beauty regimen is stupefying, to say the least.

The Vancouver Sun recently reported that Botox treatments are increasingly popular among younger women as a pre-emptive measure to combat skin creases, and as routine as pedicures and facials.

Stupefying — and postively alarming — given that one of the young women interviewed admitted to having lost much of the expression in her face. In her opinion, a necessary sacrifice.

Botox is the market name for botulinum toxin A, a toxin produced by the same bacterium that can cause botulism, a rare but serious paralytic illness that can affect a wide range of mammals, birds and fish. Approved in 2002 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to temporarily improve the appearance of moderate-to-severe frown lines between the eyebrows, botulinum toxin A (or Botox Cosmetic) has become a widespread alternative to plastic surgery. While Botox has some important clicnical uses such as the treatment of impaired muscles that result from such conditions as cerebral palsy,  the cosmetic purpose is sheerly to do with aesthetics.

And now that, since its cosmetic approval, Botox has also been found to improve headache symptoms and inhibit sweating, more and more girls and women are choosing to line up for what comes down to a series of injections that must be repeated every three to four months, as this is how long the numbing effect lasts before the muscles begin to relax and another treatment is needed to keep up the smooth, frozen look. Both the FDA and the Canadian government have issued warnings that Botox can have the adverse effect of spreading from the area of injection to other parts of the body, causing muscle weakness, swallowing difficulties, pneumonia, speech disorders and breathing problems. Essentially, symptoms similar to those of botulism. Yet the global Botox market is poised to reach $2.9 billion by 2018.

The United Nations estimates it would take $30 billion over three to five years to eradicate world hunger. How sickenenly ironic that while many on our planet would give anything to age, those in a position to help them are driven to avoid it at all costs.