Face treatment irons out empathy

SMOOTHING wrinkles with bot­ulinum toxin may impair a person’s ability to perceive others’ emotions, removing powerful cues that help people interact, studies suggest.

Researchers assessed accuracy in gauging emotions of 31 female patients two weeks after administration to the face of botulinum toxin, which paralyses expressive muscles, or a dermal filler that does not alter muscle function. 

Women receiving the paralysing injection had difficulty decoding other people’s facial expressions, they found.

In a second experiment with 95 individuals, researchers amplified muscle signals using a restricting gel. “Emotion perception improved, and did so only for emotion judgments that theoretically could benefit from facial feedback,” they found.

The authors said people who have had botulinum toxin injections “may look better but could suffer because you can’t read other people’s emotions