Many of us are familiar with Botox being used for reducing wrinkles in facial skin. Botox works by paralyzing the muscles of the face that surround the eyes creating crow’s feet or between the eyes creating a furrow.
IT may get rid of your wrinkles — but cost you your friends. Women who use Botox are sending the wrong social signals because their frozen facial muscles make it difficult for them to express the normal range of emotions.
A new study suggests that Botox users struggle to frown, look angry or sad and may even be unable to show empathy — for example, when told about a family death.
Scientists warn that the anti-wrinkle treatment could turn into a modern social hazard, capable of damaging relationships.
David Havas, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the study, says his research proves Charles Darwin’s theory that facial expression is an important factor in producing emotion in the brain.
The findings, to be published in the journal Psychological Science, monitored the speed at which 40 volunteers processed written statements with an emotional message before and after receiving Botox injections.
After the injections, which deaden the corrugator (frown) muscles, the volunteers took significantly longer to grasp and react to negative concepts such as being ignored on their birthday or being interrupted during dinner by a telesales call.
“Blocking facial expression diminishes the experience of emotion,” said Havas. “Our faces are normally alive with activity, which contributes to our understanding of each other, and there is a strong link between our facial expression and our ability to comprehend the meaning of language.
“If people seem slow in reacting to what they are being told, it is likely to be interpreted as a lack of sympathy or interest.”
Volunteers in the trial responded at normal speed to positive or happy ideas, but Havas believes further research will show that people who have undergone Botox treatment around the mouth or to remove crow’s-feet may struggle to smile and comprehend joy.
The use of Botox, which is derived from botulinum, a nerve toxin, is unregulated in Britain. Thousands of people have become regular users of the injections, which can be obtained online or through doctors, beauticians and even vets.
UPDATE: 19 JULY 2010
TOO YOUNG FOR BOTOX?
Teenage Philippine singing sensation Charice Pempengco has caused an Internet uproar after having cosmetic surgery to improve her looks ahead of her debut on top US television show “Glee”.
The 18-year-old, known simply by her first name, had botox injections and minor surgery in Manila at the weekend to narrow her rounded face, with the procedure filmed and broadcast afterwards on a national television station.
“It’s one of the big preparations we are making for ‘Glee’ and of course I also want to look fresh on cam,” Charice said in a TV interview as she defended her decision to have cosmetic surgery at such a young age.
Fans, however, flooded the star’s official website, charicemania.com, as the issue became a hot Internet topic, with many lamenting the fact that she felt pressure to alter her face.
“At a very early age, she was made to feel inadequate and was told time and time again that, although she had a killer voice, she did not possess the looks to make it as a ‘star’,” a fan using the name Marie wrote on Charice’s website.
“I can’t even begin to imagine what that did to this child’s self-esteem.”
On another fan site, charicemusic.com, there was more concern for Charice.
“I hope she doesn’t change or undergo any more treatment and change herself... she’s just fine as it is... listen to yourself and not be affected by other opinions,” wrote a user calling themselves Mirana on that site.
Charice’s procedure was a top-10 global topic on the social networking site Twitter at one point this week.
Her plastic surgeon, Vicki Belo, said the procedure was meant to sculpt Charice’s naturally rounded face.
Belo said the botulinum toxin injections, which immobilise some muscles, would not have any effect on Charice’s voice.
The diminutive Filipina first gained global renown through video-sharing website YouTube and has since become a favourite of US TV talk show queen Oprah Winfrey.
“Glee” is an hour-long comedy series that follows an optimistic high school teacher as he works with a group of outcasts to revive the fortunes of the school’s performance art club.