Botox and Emotions

face Of Emotion Book

A new book by American Dermatologist Eric Finzi, The Face of Emotion: How Botox Effects our Mood and Relationships reveals that Botox can in about 50% of cases, dramatically improve both mood and relationships.

Although this has hit the headlines recently it’s nothing new to us at Courthouse Clinics! For many years I had noticed the positive effect of Botox cosmetic treatments on my clients, including some who have been suffering from mild depression. Back in 2009 I had a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology that demonstrated that the paralysis of the corrugator (frown) muscles leads to less facial feedback for negative emotions. Consequently a negative mood is harder to maintain and so the person has a more positive mood!

Localized facial muscular paralysis is a consequence of the use of Botulinum toxin A (BTX-A; e.g. Botox®) for cosmetic dermatology. Treatment involves injections into the frown muscles, paralyzing them for up to 6 months. The cosmetic effect of this treatment is a smoother, less-lined forehead. As well as being responsible for frown lines, the frown muscles are universally important in the expression of negative emotions including sadness, fear, anger and distress.

The paralysis of these muscles means that the ability to form facial expressions of these emotions is reduced. Indeed, it has been demonstrated that people who have received Botox treatments for frown lines are rated as showing less negative facial expressions. The facial feedback effect suggests that the paralysis of muscles associated with negative emotions may have effects beyond the outward appearance of emotion.

In order to test this mechanism, the mood of 25 patients who had received Botox treatment for glabellar frown lines at Courthouse Clinics was measured and compared with patients who had received other cosmetic treatments. The patients treated with Botox showed a significantly less negative mood.

The results support the facial feedback view that frowning can make people unhappy. So there is now growing evidence  that alongside the ‘feel good’ factor that a cosmetic treatment can provide, there are also psychological mechanisms at work that show treatments such as Botox that prevent frowning correlate with reduced negative mood.

Dr Patrick Bowler