Everyone has been abuzz about Nicole Kidman and her passion for Botox. In fact, Sharon Osbourne quipped that Kidman's forehead “looks like a flat screen TV”. That little Nicole is no doubt a beauty but at what price?
New research published in Discover Magazine says that the long term effect of using Botox to freeze muscles also freezes emotions.
Botox was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000 and has become a multi-million dollar business. The way it works is that a lab-created botulinum toxin is injected into the muscle. These dynamic muscles are like the ones between the eyebrows that get exercise from laughing, scowling and squinting. Proponents of Botox contend that there is very little risk, citing that distant toxin spread happens infrequently (less than 10,000 patients). This spread is described as the movement of the toxin beyond the targeted muscle.
The long term effect is that muscles have a memory, so repeated Botox treatment of particular dynamic muscles train the muscle to relax thereby giving the impression of fewer lines and wrinkles. This may sound like good new but what also becomes reduced is expression. The new research reported that over the long term, the face loses its vitality and activity.
"They're going to probably develop things like depression, social anxiety disorders and things that are really going to affect their health in the long term," said Dr. Mark Williams, cognitive neuroscientist at Macquarie University in Canada.
What is lost with the expression is our animal instinct to read communications signals. Facial expression is key to understanding and experiencing the emotion of others. If the face freezes emotional cues, communication is effected. Williams said, “when you actually take away the ability to make a facial expression then you are not going to be able to portray that to others so others aren't going to be able to understand if you are sad or if you are happy."
He said Botox users don't have the same highs and lows of emotions and can't recognize them in others. His theory is that we have an automatic response; if a person smiles at us we smile back.