Botox is not only the leading non-surgical face-lift solution; recent research suggests it can also lift your spirits.
Botulinum Toxin A — or Botox, as it is more commonly known, prevents people from physically displaying expressions of negative emotion. This freezing of the frowning facial muscles is a physical process, but further research has discovered a deeper level on which the treatment works. Building on previous research that suggests facial expressions not only reflect but influence mood levels, the new study hypothesizes that Botox can influence happiness by literally wiping the frowns off your face.
The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology’s study followed 25 cosmetic-surgery patients, 12 had received Botulinum Toxin A antiwrinkle treatment or similar neurotoxins, the others received alternative antiwrinkle treatments such as fillers and peels. Two weeks after the treatment, the patients took a self-screening Anxiety and Depression test, rating the success of their treatments. The results were staggering.
“The Botox patients scores reflected lower measures of depression, anxiety and irritability,” explains Michael Lewis, a lead author of the study, University of Cardiff. “Crucially, there was no significant difference in how their treatment made them feel from an aesthetic point of view in conjunction with those who had other treatments. This suggests that the boost in mood wasn’t just down to a boost in self-confidence.”
Dr. Eric Finzi, in 2006, injected Botox into frown lines around the mouth or in the forehead furrows of 10 clinically depressed women. Depression symptoms were eliminated in 9 of the women, with a reduction in the 10th subject. At the time, Finzi explained the results using the facial-feedback hypothesis- people frown back at a depressed person, further deepening that person’s sense of isolation. If a depressed person can’t frown because of Botox treatment, then others won’t frown back at them, thereby breaking the loop.
While the cosmetic industry did not fund Lewis’ study, it will probably get a boost from his new Botox research. The industry has already shown interest in promoting Botox as a mood enhancer, and that, at least, could be something to smile about.