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Study finds that Botox injections can alter brain chemistry

The study suggests that Botox, a popular anti-wrinkle procedure, can affect more than just what’s on the surface

Botox injections are a popular cosmetic treatment used to refresh a person's look by erasing fine lines and wrinkles. However, a recent study reveals that the treatment affects far more than just physical appearance. Researchers found that administering Botox to people's foreheads changed their brain chemistry in a way that affected their ability to read other people's emotions.

Learn more about how Botox injections affect a person's emotions below.

The study and its findings

The new research, published in Scientific Reports, analyzed data from 10 healthy women who had never received a botulinum toxin injection. Since males and females differ in their emotional responsiveness, and the research team wanted to minimize variation in their limited sample size, they restricted participation to females.

After receiving Botox injections, study participants showed altered brain chemistry in the amygdala, an area of the brain critical for the processing of positive and negative emotions. Another area of the brain that saw changes was the fusiform gyrus. Seeing cheerful faces activates this part of the brain, which processes visual information for tasks like facial recognition, object recognition, and reading.

A client looking in the mirror after Botox injections

Growing research on the many implications of Botox

These results are consistent with the facial feedback theory, which states that people reflexively mimic facial expressions to recognize and feel the emotion being displayed before them. The scientists point out that Botox temporarily paralyzes the facial muscles, making it difficult for a person to mimic the other person's emotions. This, in turn, alters the chemical makeup of the brain as it tries to make sense of feelings.

While Botox is most generally linked with aesthetic surgeries, it has also been used to treat medical issues involving muscles, such as migraines, lazy eyes, neck cramps, perspiration, overactive bladders, and more.

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