Botox: A story with a few wrinkles

CBS

(CBS News) Ten years ago the Food and Drug Administration approved use of the drug Botox for cosmetic purposes. Serena Altschul now with a portrait of the inventor, one very surprised doctor:

Dr. Alan Scott changed the face of America - LITERALLY - but he never saw it coming.

"You never know what's going to happen the first time you do these things," he said.

In the 1980s the San Francisco ophthalmologist was looking for a cure for crossed eyes. He found it, but what he ALSO found was an unexpected side-effect of his magical injection that left everyone else wide-eyed.

"Some of these patients that would come would kind of joke and say, "Oh, doctor, I've come to get the lines out.' And I would laugh, 'Ha-ha,' but I really wasn't tuned into the practical, and valuable, aspect of that."

VERY valuable. More on that later.

The drug Dr. Scott invented was Botox. And of course, his accidental discovery was that it made wrinkles disappear.

You might be surprised to learn that Botox is made from a purified, mostly harmless neurotoxin that causes the disease Botulism. The drug temporarily paralyzes the facial muscles that cause wrinkles and frown lines, essentially turning back the clock for three to four months.

"So Botox came around and made it possible for people to do something without getting surgery, and without just hoping that something would work," said Linda Wells, editor in chief of Allure Magazine.

"It's become part of what women can use in their arsenal to fight the looks of aging. It can be misused and it can look terrible. [But] when it's well-done, you don't really know it's there."

No wonder that, for many in Hollywood, Botox has become the drug of choice. From the red carpet to tabloid magazines, we often hear whispers of, "Did she, or didn't she?"

And these days, it's far more than just Tinseltown chasing the fountain of youth. Since its FDA approval for cosmetic use ten years ago, Botox has moved mainstream. It's now the number one cosmetic medical treatment in the country, with nearly six million procedures last year.

And at $350 a treatment, personal trainer Lisa Miller is a believer: "It takes like a couple of days for it to really take full effect, but I love it because it just helps me feel young, especially in pictures."

"And then all of your friends were like, 'What are you doing - I need to know'?" asked Altschul.

"Absolutely. A lot of my clients are always, 'How come you always look so refreshed?' So I shared my secret. I'm happy to."

Lisa's cosmetic physician, Dr. Mitch Chasin, says THAT secret is: Mustn't overdo.

"We tell patients, everything in moderation is good, including Botox," said Dr. Chasin. "And if a little bit is good, doesn't mean a lot is better."

Dr. Chasin says the worst offenders are celebrities. "Celebrities come in and they want more, and they want more - and they want more."

When MORE becomes TOO MUCH, the result is what's come to be called "frozen face" - an issue that Joy Behar and Jenny McCarthy discussed on Behar's talk show:

"McCARTHY: Do you get Botox?
BEHAR: Of course, yeah I do. I've been doing it. I love it.
McCARTHY: Yeah, I love it, too. The key is minimal. Otherwise you're frozen and it's hard to be comedic."

Not everyone is on the Botox bandwagon. A-List actors like Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep and Melissa Leo are against the procedure, saying it ruins their craft, because an immovable face can mean an unmemorable performance.

"Almost from the beginning Botox has been controversial," said Wells. "I think it's much more accepted now than it's ever been, but it still has an association with artifice and with trickery, and with kind of false manipulation of what Nature should do."

Whatever you make of it, more and more of us are using it - and, men, this includes you.

Last year more than 300,000 men took their best shot at looking younger.

"Brotox," anyone? A male patient told Altschul, "I like that. That makes it sound like it's, you know, manly, which is good!"

And then there are a growing number of patients like Laura Dougherty. Her Botox habit isn't about the wrinkles - it's about the PAIN.

"I have terrible migraines to the point where I actually lose the vision in one eye," she said. "Terrible pain, nausea, vomiting. I'm literally completely incapacitated for a day, sometimes longer."

This 47-year-old mother of two knows Botox has other, less narcissistic side-effects. For her, she says, it has been "absolutely life-changing."

Since 2002, Botox has been FDA-approved for all kinds of therapeutic applications, including migraines, severe sweating, muscle stiffness, and just recently urinary incontinence.

Ten years later, more patients and more procedures mean more money for everyone in the Botox industry.

Right? Well, that brings us back to the man who started it all, Dr. Alan Scott.

In 1990 Dr. Scott SOLD his stake in Botox to the pharmaceutical company Allergan for a paltry $8 million. Today's reported sales of the drug? More than ONE BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR - and counting.

"I was a pretty good doctor and not a bad lab worker, but I was not a great businessperson!" he said.

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