"In the majority of these cases, it's the doctors at the front line who start using Botox off-label, and then we see the treatment of things we never expected the toxin to work for," says Min Dong, a researcher at Harvard Medical School who studies botulinum toxins in the lab and has no financial ties to Allergan. "I meet with physicians who are using the toxin everywhere--for diseases you would never know about."
Botox injections work by weakening or paralyzing certain muscles or by blocking certain nerves. The effects last about three to twelve months, depending on what you are treating. The most common side effects are pain, swelling, or bruising at the injection site. You could also have flu-like symptoms, headache, and upset stomach. Injections in the face may also cause temporary drooping eyelids. You should not use Botox if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

The one side effect that we most commonly see with Botox for migraine, ironically, is increased headache pain in the days immediately following the injections. Interestingly, some patients have the opposite effect, noticing immediate pain relief. That may be due to an acupuncture-like response, where poking needles into unhappy muscles actually makes them feel better.
This is because the discretionary procedures tend to be out of pocket, and providers are used to answering the question: how much does it cost? An MRI, on the other hand, might have several prices: A sticker price, a negotiated or reimbursed rate (what the insurance company pays), the rate that Medicare and Medicaid pay for treatments for people who are older and those who have low income, an out-of-network price, and so on. We know about this because we’ve done pricing surveys for about 35 common procedures in seven U.S. metro areas, collecting cash or self-pay prices for both medically necessary procedures (an MRI, a colonoscopy) and discretionary procedures (Botox, Lasik).
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Richard Clark, a plastic surgeon from Sacramento (CA), was the first to document a cosmetic use for botulinum toxin.[51] He treated forehead asymmetry caused by left sided forehead nerve paralysis that occurred during a cosmetic facelift. Since the injured nerve could possibly regenerate by 24 months, a two-year waiting period was necessary before definitive surgical treatment could be done. Clark realized that botulinum toxin, which had been previously used only for cross eyed babies and facial tics, could also be injected to smooth the wrinkles of the right forehead to match her paralyzed left. He received FDA approval for this cosmetic application of the toxin and successfully treated the person and published the case study in 1989.[51]
When receiving Botox, it’s critical to know what you’re getting and to be sure that you get what you pay for. Usually, the cost of Botox is calculated on a per unit basis. This is the preferred option of many patients and surgeons as you only pay for the units of Botox used to treat any given area. This means that if you only require ten units to correct your forehead wrinkles, you simply pay for ten units at the specified price and that’s it.
When receiving Botox, it’s critical to know what you’re getting and to be sure that you get what you pay for. Usually, the cost of Botox is calculated on a per unit basis. This is the preferred option of many patients and surgeons as you only pay for the units of Botox used to treat any given area. This means that if you only require ten units to correct your forehead wrinkles, you simply pay for ten units at the specified price and that’s it.
Safety and effectiveness of BOTOX® have not been established for the treatment of other upper or lower limb muscle groups or for the treatment of spasticity in pediatric patients under age 18 years. BOTOX® has not been shown to improve upper extremity functional abilities, or range of motion at a joint affected by a fixed contracture. Treatment with BOTOX® is not intended to substitute for usual standard of care rehabilitation regimens.
Postmarketing reports indicate that the effects of BOTOX® and all botulinum toxin products may spread from the area of injection to produce symptoms consistent with botulinum toxin effects. These may include asthenia, generalized muscle weakness, diplopia, ptosis, dysphagia, dysphonia, dysarthria, urinary incontinence, and breathing difficulties. These symptoms have been reported hours to weeks after injection. Swallowing and breathing difficulties can be life threatening, and there have been reports of death. The risk of symptoms is probably greatest in children treated for spasticity, but symptoms can also occur in adults treated for spasticity and other conditions, particularly in those patients who have an underlying condition that would predispose them to these symptoms. In unapproved uses, including spasticity in children, and in approved indications, cases of spread of effect have been reported at doses comparable to those used to treat Cervical Dystonia and spasticity and at lower doses.
Chronic migraines are what were formerly known as “transformed” migraines. These are near daily headaches, sometimes with migraine features but otherwise with frequent features of tension headaches. This may sound trivial but the treatment for tension headaches, typically with analgesics, would only make this syndrome worse. We learned that treating these with migraine preventive medications proved mostly effective. The current International Classification of Headache Disorders defines chronic migraine as a recurrent headache that has been ongoing for the past 3 months, occurs on at least 15 days per month, lasts at least 4 hours per day, and has 8 or more days per month when the headache has features of a migraine or responds to a typical migraine medication.
The cost of Botox injections varies widely, with most clinics in the United States charging between $9 and $20 per unit. The variation in cost can be influenced by a number of factors, including the location of the clinic or medspa, and the reputation and expertise of the injector. For example, board-certified plastic surgeons who specialize in administering Botox and dermal fillers are likely to charge more because they generally guarantee better results. That is not to say, however, that injectors charging $10 per unit aren’t capable of delivering excellent results as well, but there is far less risk of any complications arising when you choose an injector who has been board-certified. It is always the smartest, safest way to proceed with any cosmetic enhancement.
Both Aetna and HealthPartners tell The Verge in an email that they don’t require patients to try verapamil specifically. “Verapamil is just one of many options available to treat migraines. Some are FDA-approved, others are not,” says Becca Johnson, a spokesperson for HealthPartners. Patients are required to try other oral medications because they’re either cheaper or not as invasive as getting Botox injections. “The rationale is that these medications are generally effective and safe,” says Ethan Slavin, a spokesperson for Aetna.
Tell your doctor if you have received any other botulinum toxin product in the last 4 months; have received injections of botulinum toxin such as Myobloc®, Dysport®, or Xeomin® in the past (tell your doctor exactly which product you received); have recently received an antibiotic by injection; take muscle relaxants; take an allergy or cold medicine; take a sleep medicine; take aspirin-like products or blood thinners.
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