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Botulinum Toxin

Botulinum toxin is a protein produced by a certain type of bacteria (Clostridium botulinum). It is the same toxin that can cause a type of food poisoning (botulism) if a person gets too much in their system.

Small amounts of the purified toxin (such as Botox or Dysport) may be injected to weaken or relax muscles that are in spasm or are contracting uncontrollably, such as spasms in the eyelids or in the lower esophagus. It also may be used to rejuvenate the aging face by temporarily weakening or paralyzing the muscles, which has the effect of smoothing or eliminating wrinkles in the skin. The effect usually wears off within a few months. When injected in small amounts into muscles, the toxin does not get into the person's bloodstream and cause illness.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKeith A. Denkler, MD - Plastic Surgery
Last RevisedAugust 4, 2010

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