Botox is widely known as a muscle relaxant that temporarily smooths out facial lines and wrinkles. However, it has also been shown to positively affect the skin as well, according to research and practice by Chicago plastic surgeon, Anil Shah, M.D. Dr. Shah is one of the only doctors worldwide known to use Botox in this new way. He injects the muscle relaxant directly into the skin to treat large pores, oil production, and acne breakouts.
Acne typically occurs when the skin’s sebaceous glands release too much oil(sebum) into the skin’s pores. Bacteria use the sebum as food and the resulting inflammation becomes the formation of a pimple. Dr. Shah uses Botox as a means of depriving those bacteria of their primary resource.
This procedure is rare because it is difficult to perform. Botox must be injected directly into a layer of skin just 1/25th of an inch thick. If it were injected too deeply, the result would alter a patient’s facial expressions.
Dr. Shah recently published the only study to ever demonstrate that Botox can lower the skin’s production of oil. He believes the muscle relaxant blocks the chemical acetylcholine in the skin’s dermis. The chemical is known to increase the skin’s oil production. Additionally, the treatment literally paralyzes the tiny muscles that surround the skin’s pores and prevent them from expanding.
While there are other treatments used to correct serious acne, none have been without costly side effects or limited results. The medication Accutane decreases oil production but potential side effects include liver damage, oral bleeding, birth defects, and even suicide. And laser treatments can’t penetrate into the skin’s deep sebaceous glands.
The treatment isn’t for everyone though. Dr. Shah won’t treat teenagers because their skin usually clears up over time. His typical patients are over 20 and have already experienced permanent hormonal changes.