Botox remains the leader in minimally invasive cosmetic procedures, with men and women opting for Botox injections more than any other non-invasive cosmetic procedure. In 2013, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported 6.3 million Botox procedures were performed in the United States that year. That is nearly triple the amount listed by the next runner up, soft tissue fillers, with 2.2 million procedures performed.
What is Botox?
Botox, formally known as Botulinum Toxin Type A is a neurotoxin that temporarily paralyzes the nerve impulses within the facial muscles causing the muscles to relax. This significantly diminishes facial wrinkles, fine lines, and crow’s feet that are caused by repetitive muscle activity, such as smiling, frowning, or squinting.
Botox as a Cosmetic Injection
The demand for Botox is easy to understand. It is a fast, effective, non-surgical procedure that reverses the signs of aging. As of yet, Botox is only available in injectable form, which means, a skilled technician, usually a dermatologist specializing in cosmetic injections, delivers Botox, using a syringe, into each muscle being targeted. And this, perhaps, is Botox’s most common complaint. While most men and women are attracted to the results Botox delivers after the procedure, the delivery method of Botox during the procedure, is a turn off. Although Botox injections are relatively pain free, some individuals are psychologically daunted by the concept of injections.
But if scientists at the Revance Therapeutics can pull off their latest endeavor, injecting Botox, is predicted to become an archaic delivery method. Beauty columnist for Harper’s Bazaar, Liz Krieger, covers the innovative process going into the production of a Botox type cream that can be topically applied in her article “The Real Liquid Botox.”
Is liquid Botox Possible?
Krieger interviews Jacob Waugh, the chief scientific officer at the California research company, Revance, who is currently conducting clinical trials necessary for FDA approval of a topical cream infused with Botulinum Toxin A, which Revance refers to as RT001. Waugh explains the major obstacle of formulating a topical alternative to Botox injections: “Because [the Botulinum] molecule is so big, it can’t penetrate the skin, which is first and foremost your body’s natural barrier.” The dense size of the molecule used in Botox seems to disqualify the potential for topical application.
Undeterred, Revance engineered an advanced peptide they call TransMTS which can carry the neurotoxin through the skin and deliver it to the muscle. Krieger quotes Dr. Richard Glogau, a dermatologist and consultant for Revance: TransMTS is “a sophisticated peptide delivery system on which the neurotoxin can piggyback. Once the RT001 gel is applied to the skin and left there for about 30 minutes, it penetrates the skin and delves deeper, ferrying and releasing the neurotoxin to its target—specific nerve receptors that control the muscle—blocking the release of the chemical that causes a muscle to contract.”
Botox in a bottle
So far, clinical trials have produced very favorable results for Revance’s topically applied neurotoxin, reporting “89 percent of patients saw their crow’s-feet smoothed out after a single treatment, with no significant side effects.”
Spokespersons for Allergan, the makers of Botox, are quick to voice their concerns. Krieger interviews Mitchell Brin, a neurologist and chief scientific officer for Allergan. Brin explains that Allergan has foregone any investment in manufacturing a Botox cream because they worry that topical application of the neurotoxin will compromise its precision to affect only the intended muscles. “If your target is on the other side of a natural barrier [the skin], how exact in targeting can you be? In this line of work, a centimeter matters. When you use a needle, you go straight to the target” explains Brin.
But Brin’s trepidation is countered by Bazaar with a statement from the undisputed Botox king (administering more Botox than anyone else in the world) Fredric Brandt, who is also a clinical researcher and dermatologist. Brandt is optimistic of RT001’s success. It “will be great for someone who wants a really natural, softened look. The toxin diffuses very evenly into the muscle, giving very natural results,” he explains.
Botox in a Bottle is set to Revolutionize the Cosmetic Industry
Revance’s RT001 is still in the clinical study phases for FDA approval. But it is safe to assume that if RT001 hits the market, it’ll be a groundbreaking innovation for anti-aging skincare.