Medical researcher

Topical botox study produces results that are promising, according to experts. Photo: Getty

When we saw the first study of topical botulinum toxin, the active ingredient in the drug Botox, we knew we needed professional insight into the findings and what they might mean to you as a beauty consumer. Botox is a product of pharmaceutical giant Allergan; the study was sponsored by competitor Revance Therapeutics.

We spoke to dermatologist Jeannette Graf of Great Neck, N.Y., and New York City facial plastic surgeon Andrew Jacono.

To clarify, "botulinum toxin is a purified toxin that is injected into the muscle groups that we want to relax, and by relaxing these muscles we diminish the amount of movement in them. By not having the prolonged expression in these muscles, you won't develop the resulting lines, " Graf told StyleList. She also explained that there are depressor and elevator muscles on the face, so when you relax the depressor muscles with an injectable form of botulinum toxin, the elevator muscles strengthen and that's why you see a lift. These effects generally last four to six months.

"This is a good first study. The idea of it (topical botulinum toxin gel) has been talked about for a while. It looks promising. The crow's feet area is the logical place to start because the skin is thin there. It could work eventually in other areas, with this type of transdermal delivery," said Graf.

In the study, the botulinum toxin gel was mixed two hours prior to applying it to the crow's feet of 36 participants (32 women and four men, 35 to 60 years old). "I would assume that this would be an in-office treatment," said Graf. "And I think it could potentially be a great application for excessive underarm sweating."

From another perspective, Jacono "thinks it's a great idea but it has limited effects. When people get Botox injections, they see a three- or four-point improvement in wrinkles right away. The problem with this treatment is that it makes only a one-point or slight improvement (about 25 percent of what the injectible botulinum toxin does), so as a result it makes it more difficult for a patient to justify the treatment. Also, this is being tested on the crow's feet area because it's thinnest skin on your whole body and the gel can reach the muscles you want to relax. It would never work on the other areas of the face because that skin is much thicker."

"I know that when I give patients 50 percent improvement from a treatment they're not happy, so I don't know if people will go for this, unless the price is right. This will not replace Botox injections," Jacono told StyleList.


Could botox injections be a thing of the past? Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

While it's too early to tell if this is a viable treatment to get 100 percent improvement on wrinkles, if approved, it will give those with a fear of needles more options. "It's not invasive and does work, but it doesn't give the same results (as injectable botulinum toxin). I always advise people to be cautious of brand-new treatments. When we start to use the treatments on patients, that's when we get the experience in how the product works in the real world," explains Dr. Jacono.

It's also too soon to draw conclusions about the price of the treatments, so we can't assume that they will be any less expensive than injectable botulinum toxin.

"What we do know is that this was a successful first study, which was meant to show the efficacy and safety of the product and that Revance (the company that sponsored the study) can now move on to the next level of investigation," said Graf.

Stay tuned for more news on noninvasive cosmetic procedures. StyleList is always on the lookout for treatments that will make us look younger without downtime!

Meanwhile, check out these four habits that can age you by twelve years.