Can Botox wash away your blues?

January 10, 2013

botox2Can Botox wash away your blues?

You’ve probably heard Botox can treat frown lines – those pesky facial wrinkles that appear around the corners of the mouth. But could the injectable medicine also help ward off depression? That’s what researchers at the Chevy Chase Cosmetic Center in Maryland suggested at the recent annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, reports Time magazine.

The medical director of the center and his colleagues presented a study that suggested treating frown lines and reducing the signs of aging could help those suffering from depression feel happier. The background of the research has its roots in history – Charles Darwin coined the term “grief muscles” to describe the muscles we use to frown, and he suggested making an unhappy face was intensely connected to true feelings of sadness.

“We feel sorry because we cry. We feel angry because we strike [out], and not vice versa,” explained the lead researcher during the meeting. According to Time, he hypothesized that freezing the “grief muscles” with Botox could prevent individuals from frowning, thus breaking or weakening the connection the facial expression has with the emotion of sadness.

Researchers looked at 84 individuals who had severe depression lasting for an average of two years, none of whom had responded to antidepressants. Some of the participants were given Botox injections while others were injected with a placebo. They were then assessed three to six weeks later. According to the news source, at that time just over a quarter of those receiving Botox had a “nearly complete remission of their depression,” while only 7 percent of those who had received the placebo reported the same turnaround.

Until this study undergoes further vetting, Botox shouldn’t be considered an official treatment of depression. However, the medicine does carry other benefits, according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). The injectable cosmetic can reduce the appearance of wrinkling around the mouth, forehead and eyes, giving patients an overall younger appearance.

What’s more, Botox is more affordable than other rejuvenation procedures like facelifts, though the results don’t last as long. Side-effects are also minimal – patients can expect mild swelling or bruising and a temporary redness. Botox is a good “first-time procedure,” because patients’ appearance will return to normal if they decide it’s not the right look for them.


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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