Neurotoxins, such as Botox, Dysport, Xeomin, and Jeuveau certainly work, but face it – it’s toxins going into your face. I don’t mind it (well that ship has sailed), but for those of you who have concerns, I have written this Botox Alternative Series just for you.
What is Frotox (Iovera)?
‘Frotox’, (a play on Botox), is a catchy nickname for the Iovera treatment. The Iovera treatment smooths out your forehead wrinkles, as well as, or better than Botox does. And here’s the thing, it uses Focused Cold Therapy instead of injecting toxins in your face!
Manufactured by Myoscience Inc. in Redwood City, CA, Iovera was originally designed as a pain blocker. It was FDA approved for pain control in the U.S in 2014, and is currently being used in many orthopedic, rheumatology, spine and pain practices around the country.
But in Europe and Canada, this little miracle machine is also being used to raise those forehead muscles to treat frown lines, forehead lines or drooping eyebrows.
The good news is that, since the procedure is already approved as a pain blocker and is considered safe, there are docs using it off label for your forehead lines!
So let’s talk about how it works.
What is Focused Cold Therapy (FCT)?
Focused Cold Therapy (cryoneuromodulation) is a procedure that delivers focused cold energy onto a targeted area of the nerve fiber, temporarily interrupting the nerve connection, and immediately freezing the coordinating muscle.
The scientific side of it is quite interesting.
Nerve fibers are made up of tiny axons. Each axon is wrapped within a myelin sheath (think of saran wrap) then forms a chain that is responsible for signaling the brain on what to feel in the corresponding area. These axons are contained within endoneurial tubes.
Those endoneurial tubes are bundled together into a tube called the perineurium and then the whole nerve fiber is encased in the epineurium.
When FCT is applied to a section of the axons, all signals stop, causing your forehead muscles to relax, and you forehead to appear smooth.
Note: Cryoneuromodulation is not the same as cryolipolysis that is used in CoolSculpting.
How it Goes Down
First, the technician uses a little a probe to track the nerves on your forehead. Not like an I’ve-been-abducted-by-aliens probe, but just a simple little metal stick that sits on the top of your skin and sends a signal to find the nerve.
This is important when deciding which nerve treat.
The area is then numbed using a small injection along the nerve line. Next, the handheld Iovera device is applied to the targeted area.
With a push of a button, nitrogen gas is then released into the device close-ended needle-like tip, focusing cold on your nerve, immediately degenerating the nerve connection and freezing the muscle that controls brow, in order to prevent forehead wrinkling and creasing.
Check it out!
Unfortunately the results aren’t permanent, our body’s amazing like that. The moment the nerve is degenerated, it starts to regenerate at 1 to 2mm a day (takes about 4 months).
AND it’s good to know that FCT only affects the axons and myelin sheaths, not the endoneurium or other outer layers, so the architecture of the nerve fiber remains intact and there is no permanent damage.
The treatment takes about 15 minutes and lasts up to 4 months.
Frotox vs Botox
So, to the meat of the matter. Will Iovera be the new Queen Bee in the hive? Iovera makes it pretty clear that it’s goal isn’t to replace neurotoxins like Botox, but to be an alternative for those who cannot, or don’t want to, use Botox. I think that’s incredibly diplomatic, but I can see why. Let’s compare the two.
- Frotox, unlike Botox, is not a toxin that’s injected into your skin. It involves a close-ended needle that filled with highly pressurized liquid nitrous oxide which is never released into the skin.
- Frotox works immediately, whereas Botox can take up to a week before you get a handle on the results. Meaning that you may not get the effect your were expecting and could possibly have to march your butt back to the doc for some more – usually for an extra fee.
- Frotox has the precision to focus on a specific nerve allowing the doctor to control which muscles are effected, in order to give you the most natural look. Botox cannot be so precise.
- Frotox lasts up to 4 months no matter how many times you use it. Botox is said to work for 4 to 6 months, but after you’ve been using it for years and years, the effects tend to go away sooner. Truthfully though, Botox has never worked for 6 months on me. Even when I was in my twenties.
- Frotox is only meant for the forehead area, whereas Botox can be used around your crow’s feet, on your jaw, on your little rabbit lines on your nose and even your neck.
- Frotox currently costs the equivalent of $400 in the UK and Canada. Botox on the forehead area usually starts at about $500.
So, I think that Iovera is right. It’s in no position to take over the Botox market, but we shall see after U.S. Clinical Studies, if it is a viable alternative option in the case of forehead maintenance.