The CHILL drill
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