Botox: Not Just for Wrinkles

Botox use has become increasingly popular in the last twenty years. Scientists have discovered numerous ways to use this diluted toxin to benefit patients suffering from many different conditions. While most people think of Botox as a wrinkle relaxer, it’s list of therapeutic uses continues to grow.

Botox was initially used to treat conditions such as uncontrolled blinking and lazy eye. Botox works by blocking signals sent between nerves and muscles. Once a muscle is injected with Botox, it can no longer contract. Botox is most commonly used cosmetically, on forehead lines, crow’s feet, and frown lines.

Botox has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of chronic migraines in adults. For migraines to be considered chronic, they must occur more than 15 days per month, and last 4 hours or more each time. According to Allergan, the company that makes Botox, there are approximately 3.2 million Americans suffering from migraines regularly, so this treatment option could potentially benefit many people in pain. To treat chronic migraines with Botox, the doctor makes multiple injections in the head and neck area. These injections are expected to relieve migraine suffering for about three months.

Another condition Botox injections are used to treat is urine leakage in patients with neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries. For patients suffering from incontinence or overactive bladder as a result of nerve damage, Botox can provide relief by relaxing the bladder, allowing the bladder to hold more urine. The effects of Botox injections in the bladder can last up to 10 months.

Another popular use of Botox is for controlling excessive sweating in adults. Commonly injected into the armpit area, Botox decreases the activity of sweat glands, thereby reducing the amount of sweat released.

Of course, Botox is not a one-time solution. To continue to see results, the injections must be repeated regularly. For most conditions, including wrinkle relaxing and chronic migraine relief, patients require additional injections every 3-4 months. For severe sweating, injections need to be repeated every 6-7 months, or when bothersome symptoms return.