Botox® is a drug that is injected under the surface of the skin to treat several medical disorders related to muscle spasms, muscle tightness and over activity of some glands in the body and is also used cosmetically to treat facial lines and wrinkles. In the United Kingdom and other areas outside of the United States, Botox® is known as Dysport.
The drug Botox® is also known as botulinum toxin, one of the most poisonous naturally occurring chemicals in the world. Botulinum toxin is a protein made by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. As a drug, botulinum toxin is given in very small amounts, so that nerves around the area of the injection can not receive certain chemical signals.
Clostridium botulinum first appeared in scientific literature in the late 1800s as the bacterial cause of the disease botulism. In 1944, scientists isolated botulinum toxin from Clostridium botulinum. In 1949, the protein was identified as a toxin that blocks messages from the nervous system to the muscles. The first investigational use of the protein in humans under the name botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A) occurred to treat cross eyes in 1989.
In 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved botulinum toxin type A, now renamed as the drug Botox®, for the treatment of frown lines between the eyes (also called glabellar lines). Since 2002, the drug has also been approved for the treatment of excessive underarm sweating (also called axillary hyperhydrosis), cervical dysplasia (a type of neck spasm), eyelid spasms (also called blepharospasm), and cross eyes (also called strabismus).
Investigational and off-label uses of Botox® include overactive bladder, Parkinson's disease, temporomandibular joint disorder, and excessive salvation. Other cosmetic uses are also under investigation.

Related Terms

BOTOX-A, botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A), Botulinum Toxin Type B (BTX-B), Clostridium botulinum, Dysport.


Botox® is administered under the skin through a very fine needle. Only qualified doctors should perform this procedure. Depending on the medical condition or cosmetic concern, a person may receive one or several injections during an appointment. The medication is injected on the part of the body where the symptoms occur. An appointment usually lasts no longer than one hour. After all of the injections have been given, the patient must stay at the doctor's office for a period of time to ensure that no severe allergic reaction occurs.
Most people experience some bruising and discomfort in the area where the Botox® was injected.
The benefits of a Botox® treatment may last from three to six months. After this period of time, the effect of the treatment wears off. Some people choose to receive another injection of Botox® after this period of time in order to have continued relief from symptoms. Some insurance companies cover Botox® when it is used to treat a medical condition. Treatments that are used cosmetically to improve a patient's appearance are generally not covered by insurance.