(NaturalNews) Botox might leave people looking good but, just when you thought it couldn't get more superficial, it will also leave them feeling less sensitive to others emotions', a new study in USA Today shows (http://usat.ly/hHIbXs).
The glamorous neurotoxin has been used by the rich and beautiful -- yet aging -- people of America for the last 20 years. Its cosmetic use became widespread as a less invasive, less expensive alternative to plastic surgery (http://abcn.ws/ePIWmM). Botox works by paralyzing the muscles that, with use over time, can lead to wrinkles.
As if having the expression of smiles, frowns and other feelings tamed for fear of pesky wrinkles wasn't enough, now it appears that the smiles and frowns of everyone else are dampened too, at least as far as Botox users can tell.
"People who use Botox are less able to read others' emotions," says David Neal, a psychology professor at the University of Southern California and lead author of the research published in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science.
People read emotions partly by mimicking facial expressions, Neal said, so "if muscular signals from the face to the brain are dampened, you're less able to read emotions."
Participants in two experiments run by the researchers either used Botox, Restylane, which is a dermal filler, or a gel that amplifies muscular signals while viewing computer images of faces and attempting to identify the emotions on the faces.
"When the facial muscles are dampened, you get worse in emotion perception, and when the facial muscles are amplified, you get better at emotion perception," Neal says.
Lead author, psychologist Joshua Davis, of a similar study from last year published in the journal Emotion had not yet seen the new study but said the research would suggest facial expression is an integral part of our emotional experience.
Neal said users might want to consider the indirect cost of having Botox injections -- to consider if it is "reducing their ability to empathize and understand people's emotions."
Dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi of Washington, however, said she has never had a complaint related to emotions in the 10 years she has been administering Botox.
"It's important that facial expression is there," she said. "People care about what they look like, but they do not want to look overly done or overly plasticized."
It is certainly worth thinking about though, especially now, as more than 14,000 procedures were performed in the last two years on teens alone.(http://abcn.ws/ePIWmM).