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What Is OnabotulinumtoxinA?

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  • Written By: Jillian O Keeffe
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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Derived from a bacterial species, onabotulinumtoxinA has both cosmetic and medical applications. Available under several brand names, this toxin's function is to paralyze the muscles of the body where it is injected. It often is used to reduce or eliminate wrinkles on the face. OnabotulinumtoxinA-producing bacteria also produce other forms of toxin with similar effects.

Medical conditions that feature problems with muscle tightening or spasming might be treatable with onabotulinumtoxinA. A painful neck condition called cervical dystonia causes abnormal contractions of muscles, and the relaxing effect of an onabotulinumtoxinA injection can temporarily soothe the problem. When eyelid muscles do not work properly, the toxin can help resolve the issue, as in the case of strabismus or blepharospasm.

Uncontrollable sweating is another medical issue that can be brought under control by the toxin. Migraine sufferers might also find relief from chronic headache pain through toxin injections. Muscles of the arm and hands that a patient cannot entirely control can also be made more responsive through toxin treatment.

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Cosmetic changes to the face are an important feature of onabotulinumtoxinA usage. The paralyzing effect the toxin has on muscles can temporarily correct wrinkles such as frown lines and can make the patient appear younger. This medicine can take a few days to weeks to become effective. It does not have permanent effects on the body, and for both medical and cosmetic procedures, the effects last only a few months and need to be repeated to keep up the same benefit.

The toxin is manufactured as a sterile powder, which the medical professional or cosmetic expert mixes with a liquid carrier. After the affected area is numbed with local anesthetic or a cold compress, he or she then injects the toxin directly into muscle or skin. This procedure might require more than one treatment, depending on the condition that it being treated.

This medication is a toxin, so it can have side effects on the body. After the procedure, the patient might have difficulty swallowing or experience drooping of the muscles in the injected area. Muscle control of parts of the body also can become impaired because of the injection. Fever, aches and cold-like symptoms are all possible, as are allergic reactions.

Clostridium botulinum is the bacterial species responsible for producing OnabotulinumtoxinA. In scientific circles, OnabotulinumtoxinA is also known as botulinum toxin type A, and the bacterium also produces a toxin named botulinum toxin type B. This B toxin also has medical uses and can go by the name rimabotulinumtoxinB.

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