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Botox to be approved for cosmetic purposes

Botox may soon be approved as an anti-wrinkle treatment.
Botox may soon be approved as an anti-wrinkle treatment.  

(CNN) -- A popular treatment for facial wrinkles is about to get the official OK. The Food and Drug Administration plans to approve Botox for cosmetic purposes, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Botox, a form of the botulinum toxin that causes food poisoning, is already approved to treat spasms in eye muscles, but is widely used off-label to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Doctors inject small amounts of the toxin into the forehead, in between the eyes and around the mouth. The compound essentially paralyzes those muscles so the wrinkles are no longer visible. It also prevents new wrinkles from forming, because the treated muscles cannot contract into the expressions that contribute to wrinkling.

The effect is only temporary, however. Patients have to return for more shots every three to six months to maintain their wrinkle-free look.

Although the procedure has sometimes been called the "poor man's face-lift," Botox treatments can be expensive. Each treatment can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000 depending on the number of injections.

Still, as many as 1 million Americans are estimated to have gotten cosmetic Botox treatments in 2000.

There is no risk of contracting food poisoning from the Botox injections, but there are some risks associated with the procedure. If too much toxin is injected, or if the injection is given in the wrong place, the patient can end up with droopy facial muscles that may last a few days or even longer.

The compound's manufacturer, Allergan Inc. of Irvine, California, says once FDA approval is granted, company representatives can train doctors how to dose and inject Botox properly so that these side effects are minimized.

A company spokeswoman told the Times that Allergan expects the approval within the next month.

Botox is also being tested as a treatment for back pain, headaches and limb spasticity.


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