Described as ‘The Ice wand’, Frotox is a toxin-free alternative to botulinum jabs, writes Dr Janine Olivier
What if I could freeze your facial muscles so that your wrinkles disappear, but I do not inject a purified poison into your lovely face? What if you were still able to use your muscles for facial expression … without forming lines? Frotox (‘Iovera’ or ‘Coldtox’) promises to do just that. When you put your hand into a bucket of ice, your fingers become numb and hard to move – this is the effect of extreme cold on muscles, also called ‘cryoneuromodulation’. Smart scientists have bottled this nifty effect into a pen-like device that delivers an intense 30-second ‘cold jolt’ that shocks the nerve into a numb state for up to four months. Your muscles relax completely and ‘Abracadabra!’ wrinkles disappear immediately, as opposed to purified botulinum toxin, that takes between four and 14 days to reach full effect.
This cryoneuromodulation technology has been used for many decades in the medical field of neurology to relieve chronic pain. It is, however, a highly specialised procedure, and is only administered by doctors with the proper certification. The device is FDA-cleared in the US for treatment of headaches, and in Europe it is being used off-label as an anti-aging anti-wrinkle treatment in the realms of plastic surgery and aesthetic medicine.
The ‘nitty-gritty’ mechanics
This pen-like device is loaded with a liquid nitrogen cartridge before use, and, at the touch of a button, the circulation of nitrogen gas within the device creates a precise-cold-zone at
the smart-needle tip, which is made of closed-end needles, so nothing comes out of it. A TENS (Trans-cutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) machine is used to pinpoint the target nerves, before the precision-chill can be administered to numb these nerves. After the nerves are pinpointed, a local anaesthetic (lidocaine) is injected to numb the area and the treatment probe is injected at each marked site (an average of about four on each temple) to zap the nerves into submission.
Side effects So far, there has been no report of long-term side effects or any dangers from having the treatment. As no toxins are used, this treatment is predicted to be extremely safe. Usual side effects associated with the treatment are mostly short-lived, just like any other aesthetics procedure involving needles, and include bleeding, bruising and swelling.
Will Frotox replace facial creams in the future?
Frotox is a cool new choice for people who don’t want to inject toxin into their faces. It is aimed to help people who want to reduce dynamic forehead wrinkles without the use of toxins, or those who cannot have Botox due to other medical reasons. However, it does not hydrate the skin, clean the skin or introduce antiageing cosmoceutical molecules into the skin for a plump healthy and glowing complexion, so the realm of cosmeceuticals is still safe in my opinion.
Argireline is the cosmeceutical product that has been likened to ‘Botox in a tub’. Acetyl hexapeptide-3 is a synthetic anti-wrinkle cosmetics ingredient. It is a peptide which is a fragment of SNAP-25, a substrate of Botulinum toxin (Botox). Acetyl hexapeptide-3 is marketed as Argireline by the Barcelona-based research laboratory Lipotec. It is the blending of these Argireline peptides in creams that attempts to decrease the visible effects of ageing by reducing the deep wrinkles and lines around the eyes and forehead. Chemically, when you apply an Argireline peptide to specific areas, it inhibits the reactions that cause muscles to move or contract. But there are no long-term studies to prove the efficacy of the product and the effect, sadly, is brief and less effective than the injections.
Frotox vs Botox
As the cool new option in the aesthetic world, Frotox is a wonderful alternative that gives you a choice when you want to get rid of the nasties. But, in reality, the quiet, transparent botulinum toxin A still reigns supreme in the anti-aging arena. It is easily accessible and most aesthetic practitioners are certified to provide this treatment, plus it is affordable. This faithful treatment is versatile and can be injected into multiple sites of the face and body, while Frotox offers limited treatment area options. Besides, we have years of data and studies backing this purified neuromodulator’s side-effects and safety profile and US doctors are always cautious and sceptical about using anything without a proven track record.
Mirror, mirror on the wall…
So, I happily wave around my insulin syringe with purified neurotoxin and ‘Abracadabra!’ wrinkles be gone! They really are gone, even if it takes a few days to show. It is easily available and less precision is necessary when delivering the toxin than the absolute accuracy required with Frotox, which can leave you in a numb nightmare when the wrong muscle is frozen. So, ‘chillax’! – we still have botulinum jabs with a proven track record and a practitioner near your home. PB
The Age-Old Pickle Who – Preserves the Best?
Nature versus nurture: both certainly play a role in graceful ageing, but which one has a more powerful influence? You are what you eat and apply – and infinitely more than just genes – which begs the question: is this combination the secret to healthy, beautiful ageing? Dr Janine olivier takes us around the world to determine who are the best super-agers.
While I bask in the glorious rays of the South African sun, a little niggly voice pops annoyingly into my head – warning me about all the things I really don’t want to think about. Sensible things such as sunspots, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and the like – basically the costly price to pay for this hedonistic pleasure. I then got to thinking about my skin – and why it looked so flawless in my time as an exchange student in Sweden. Could it be that I was younger (read infant), or was there something more? I recall it was one of the coldest of Scandinavian winters (-30°C), and my diet consisted of predominantly kanelbullar. I dredged through thighhigh sludge to the training hospital – skin and hair more radiant than that of a pregnant woman (on steroids), as my European genes popped out of hibernation. Could this genetic makeup of mine be the sole reason for my graceful ageing had I stayed in the northern hemisphere (despite living on sugar and cinnamon confections and hardly grooming)? Or is there more to it?
Genes versus routines
This panacea of nature vs nurture reveals surprising secrets in the evolution of beautiful ageing across the globe. You are indeed what you eat and apply – and infinitely more than just genes – which begs the question: is this combination the secret to good, healthy, graceful (and, um… pretty) ageing?
In answer to this, I went around the world (in cyberspace, that is) to determine what nations boast the best super-agers – and why.
Most Japanese women stay slim and don’t look old – they simply cannot afford to – seriously. I came across a very unnerving piece of Japanese folklore called ubasute – roughly translated as “abandoning an old woman”. This practice was allegedly performed when an elderly or infirm relative was carried to a mountain and left there to die of dehydration, starvation or exposure. Besides their great genes (and that ever-looming threat of the mountain, of course), these ladies drink green tea and eat small portions of seafood and fermented foods with healthy desserts (fruit). They mostly walk or ride their bikes, practice yoga and martial arts. Traditionally, Japanese people rarely eat out, avoid processed foods and employ healthier cooking methods. Additionally, Japan is famous for its hot springs, which promotes detoxification, reduces stress, improves circulation, skin and sleep quality. These great habits, along with a small pinch of good genes, will certainly keep the ubasute at bay.
Je ne sais quoi
The French coined a term that literally means “I don’t know what” as in “She has a certain je ne sais quoi about her”. These chic women embrace age with an emphasis on excessive, quality grooming, as explained by Mireille Giuliano’s best-seller Why French Women Do Not Get Facelifts. That said, I personally feel that Madam Guiliano would benefit tremendously from the latter (after I ogled a recent media image of her). Speaking of books, Mathilde Thomas’ The French Beauty Secret reveals what makes the French so…French. It comes down to drinking red wine daily and taking at least one 30-minute walk a day. Skincare is art de vivre – a pleasure, not a pain. Choosing the best skincare products you can afford is of paramount importance, and more is certainly more. An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away and a post-coital glow increases blood and oxygen supply to the face, while boosting collagen production. The French typically eat well, in moderation and only use the best quality fresh ingredients. They also do not ruin mealtimes with excessive snacking. Lastly, there’s nothing quite like ending a hot shower with an ice-cold one to jolt the skin into the toning and firming mode. The real secret to French beauty is… confidence.
Lagom – Scandinavian minimalistic beauty trend
Not too little, not too much, just right. Lagom is the opposite of excess, so products that contain extras like artificial fragrance, parabens, sulfates, even shimmer, are considered unnecessary. The term is about living with just the essentials. Swedes have the
longest average lifespan (85 years) and they are the fifth happiest nation, according to a recent survey.
The longevity village
The Chinese village of Bama (rebranded ‘The Longevity Village’) is home to 81 centenarians. The locals credit the mineral water, geomagnetism and negatively charged oxygen ions. According to Dr Ze, a resident at Beijing Hospital, there was little mixing with the outside world, causing the residents to live or die under tough circumstances. Weak genes were eliminated, strong genes survived. In particular, the residents of Bama have mostly inherited a gene from both parents that helps the body produce a protein called apoliprotein E. This combines with fat to form a lipoprotein that reduces excess cholesterol. The inhabitants also work hard in the field, and their food is steamed, not fried. They mostly eat rice porridge with a bit of salt and hemp oil, and seldom consume meat. Old people are surrounded by relatives, are happy and calm, have fewer desires, are not competitive, and were more optimistic.
Secrets of the super-agers
It appears that diet is the key to longevity – combined with sex, naps, wine, good friends… and a pinch of good genes (but of course).
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References: 1. Miller TF, Batra RS, Ramirez J. Evaluation of the effect of a novel bi-mineral complex on photoexposed periorbital skin [poster]. OMP, Inc. Data on file. 2. Consumer panel results. Study included 23 subjects using ELASTIderm Serum. OMP, Inc. Data on file.