It turns out, Botox® has one particular effect that can make it helpful as an acne treatment — reducing oil production.
There are four key factors at play in the development of acne: Increased and altered sebum production; bacteria; abnormal skin cell proliferation and adhesion that leads to clogged pores; and inflammation.
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The majority of the current research on Botox® and acne shows that they work on the first of those four factors—sebum, or oil, production. Botox® blocks the release of a neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine, which binds to certain cells.
When Botox® injections are used to treat wrinkles, blocking acetylcholine ultimately prevents the muscles from contracting and forming those wrinkles. But our sebaceous glands also use acetylcholine in a number of different ways throughout the entire sebum production process.
In other words, excess sebum is a common cause of acne breakouts, but when Botox® is injected into the face, it helps reduce the amount of oil the skin produces.
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If your acne stems from excessively oily skin, Botox® could help reduce the severity by reducing sebum production. A more balanced, less oily complexion may be less likely to break out.
Botox® has been shown to decrease oil production, which, yes, definitely plays a role in acne formation, but its ability to actually clear up pimples remains more anecdotal than anything. Without further studies, Botox® for acne would remain an adjunctive treatment.