Some people seeking an alternative to facelifts and other forms of cosmetic surgery are turning to Botox®. But does Botox make you happier when it takes away your frown? To find out, we need to learn a bit about the stuff.
Botulinum toxin A is marketed under the trade name Botox, and it's related to a rare yet serious illness called botulism. Fortunately, you can only get botulism only by making contact with something contaminated by a neurotoxin like Botulinum toxin A. (Neurotoxins come from a strain of bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum.)
Most folks who get Botox injections get them to remove facial wrinkles, like the ones around the mouth that can make you look like you're frowning. Botox softens wrinkles by paralyzing the underlying muscles for several months. The rationale is simple: What can't move won't wrinkle.
Researchers have learned that Botox customers may get an added perk that's more than skin deep. When the muscles that control frowning are frozen, a person tends to smile more -- and it's that single act of smiling that produces feelings of happiness [source: Womack]. In fact, studies show that displaying expressions of positive emotions can actually put you in a good mood [sources: Jameson, Wallace]. Some behavior therapists colloquially call this method of easing depression the fake-it-till-you-make-it effect [source: Brink].
Although Botox might make you look and feel good, there are some risks to getting these chemical injections that may just wipe that smile off your face.