Botox, Facial Expressions and Parenting

Botox is a popular injection meant to smooth wrinkles and creases from the skin.

Past research has shown that babies pick up on and mimic facial expressions of their caregivers. Because botox limits the amount of facial muscle movement, some researchers suggest that this may have an effect on parenting:

“(Botox) likely does limit and distort parent-infant communication, possibly making the parent look ‘flat’ emotionally,”

says Dr. Ed Tronick, associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts.

“Facial expressions for parents and young children are really critical ways in which we communicate our intentions or whether we’re angry or sad, and that involves this very complex array of all the muscles that go into making facial expressions. So if you limit that range of expression, especially with very young children who are really attuned to reading facial expressions, then you limit the amount of information, the amount of emotion that you communicate using a facial expression.”

In addition, a Botox study came out last year that found the toxin lowers a key emotion: empathy.

Published in the journal of Social Psychology and Personality Science, the paper was based in part on an experiment in which adults who had Botox were compared with adults with the dermal filler Restylane, which unlike Botox doesn’t affect muscle function.

At the root of the experiment, says psychologist and co-author of the study David Neal, is the notion that we read a person’s emotions partly by mimicking their facial expressions.

So think twice before you inject, as this may have implications on not only your ability to express yourself, but also your ability to parent effectively.

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