Last time I went in for my Botox treatment, my doctor asked me if I wanted to try Aimovig. Amgen and Novartis, the two manufacturers, were offering two free injections before I could access the drug through my health insurance. I declined. I didn’t want to start a new treatment that I’ll likely be booted from in a few months because of how expensive it is. Plus, the Botox is working great. I just wish I could have gotten it when I first went to see a migraine specialist, two and half years ago.
"A migraines is an inherited neurological condition that features headaches as the most common symptom," says Robbins. "Headaches are not the only symptoms people can have. They can have sensitivity to the environment around them like light and sound. They can have nausea, which can lead to vomiting. They can have blurred vision. In a minority, but sizable number of people, it can progress to what we call chronic migraines."
In recent years, a number of high-profile lawsuits have been brought against Allergan in which plaintiffs claimed that off-label uses--for ailments including a child's cerebral-palsy symptoms, for instance, or an adult's hand tremors--resulted in lasting deleterious side effects. Still, the drug's acceptance in a growing number of doctors' offices worldwide, and its revenue growth, show no signs of slowing.
Finding an experienced practitioner is particularly important if you’ve never had Botox treatments before as he or she will devise an optimal treatment plan to address your forehead wrinkles. Furthermore, with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon you’ll be far less likely to experience any side effects like pain, bruising around the injection site, droopy eyelids, or mistakenly be administered too much Botox, leaving your face looking frozen for the next several months.
It is not known whether BOTOX® is safe or effective to treat increased stiffness in upper limb muscles other than those in the elbow, wrist, fingers, and thumb, or in lower limb muscles other than those in the ankle and toes. BOTOX® has not been shown to help people perform task-specific functions with their upper limbs or increase movement in joints that are permanently fixed in position by stiff muscles. Treatment with BOTOX® is not meant to replace existing physical therapy or other rehabilitation that may have been prescribed.
Younger patients have been increasingly hopping on the Botox bandwagon as a preventative measure—even before the wrinkles appear or deepen. That’s why dermatologists can’t recommend the best age to start or try Botox, since it depends on your goals, your facial expressions, and your preference. If all you see when you look at a photo of yourself is that forehead wrinkle instead of your bright eyes or smile, it might make you happier to get the wrinkle taken care of. “Each time we raise our eyebrows, or scowl by bringing our eyebrows together, the wrinkles in these locations get deeper and more numerous. It happens slowly over a long period of time, so you don’t notice it on a daily basis,” Dr. Tutela says. “But if you look at the horizontal wrinkles in your forehead when you are not raising your eyebrows, you will see an increase in these wrinkles when you do raise your brows. If you then hold that raised brow position for 10 seconds, you will notice when you relax, your forehead wrinkles look deeper and more numerous. Botox prevents this from happening.” It’s almost never too early to start a good anti-aging regimen. Learn the most in-demand cosmetic treatments across the US.
Botulinum toxin is one of the most poisonous substances known to man. Scientists have estimated that a single gram could kill as many as 1 million people and a couple of kilograms could kill every human on earth. In high concentrations, botulinum toxin can result in botulism, a severe, life-threatening illness. Botulism, left untreated, may result in respiratory failure and death. Despite botulinum toxin being so toxic, Botox is in huge demand.
With small children, I find that being prepared allows us to function better. My family food preps for the week with fruits, veggies and snack-size portions. I keep the snacks on a shelf that my children can easily reach, so they can choose a healthy option if they’re hungry and I’m unable to get up. Meals are well-thought-out and prepared ahead of time, in case of a migraine attack. I always have a back-up plan for my children. I have alternative arrangements for them after school if I am unable to care for them or myself. I also have activities planned. I keep crafts around that occupy my children’s time but also keep sound and stress to a minimum. We color, build Legos and play with Play-Doh all while sitting in rooms with strategically placed lights and brightness. I save screen time for when I need a few moments of quiet. We keep a routine and schedule, but also stay flexible. A schedule allows my family to know what to expect for our days and evenings. My children are able to continue their day if I have a migraine attack because they know what needs to be done and in what order. We have strict bedtimes that allow my children’s brains to grow and mine to recover. Along with this, I have taught them that moms don’t always feel well, and we may need to adjust the schedule from time to time to accommodate my migraine. I keep medication that can fight a migraine attack with me for use on the go and safely at home. I see a neurologist on a regular basis who helps me manage my migraine symptoms and medication.
Shah says that it’s harder to treat wrinkles with just Botox as they get more and more ingrained into the face. “Some people may need just a few injections, but some may require more treatments, such as laser treatments or a series of smaller procedures, which are going to cost more. Whereas if they came in five years earlier, I may have just been able to use Botox to get the same effect,” she says.
Dr. Schwedt believes ARMR offers hope for patients living with migraine. “ARMR data could lead to breakthroughs in the field,” he says. One hope for ARMR is that it will contribute to the ability for health care providers to use precision medicine to treat their patients. Clinical trials show which migraine therapies are overall effective for groups of people with migraine; however, health care providers are still working to understand which specific therapy is ideal for a particular patient. “One of the challenges we have in this field right now is being able to determine which exact therapy is going to be best for which patient,” Dr. Schwedt says. “For example, we might know that about 50% of patients will benefit from a specific migraine preventive therapy, but we don’t know in advance which 50% that is. I believe the data we’re collecting in ARMR is going to help us get to the stage where we can practice precision medicine, knowing which therapy is most likely to help an individual patient prior to the patient starting that therapy.”
The correct way to inject Botox is to always customize the treatment plan to solve the aesthetic issues that bother the person. Some patients need only limited areas injected such as the vertical lines between their brows, their “crow’s feet” at the outer aspects of their eyelids, the “bunny” lines that radiate on the sides of their nose, vertical and horizontal lip lines and rarely patients request a correction of their “gummy” smile where their upper gums show when a person smile. Yes, you usually can pay for specific areas of treatment or by the number of units injected. But if you only want single line or area of your forehead injected you may not be satisfied with the results in the end. Why? -because when Botox or Dysport is injected it will weaken only the muscles that are treated, there may be muscles that were not treated that are pulling in an opposite direction that will produce undesirable results(an example of an undesirable effect occurs when treating just the glabella “11” lines between your eyebrows that may produce an overarched brow contour that resembles Mr. Spock.) Therefore, a complete treatment plan that includes all muscle groups should be treated to balance the pull and counter-pull of facial muscles.In addition, injections around the mouth must be performed by an experienced injector because there is the potential for the mouth to droop afterwards which can cause you to drool or may impact your ability to eat, pucker and smile. These adverse effect may last several weeks.
There are numerous areas where Botox may be used, including the forehead, crow's feet, gummy smile, chin, neck, and other areas of the body. Many of these are under investigation at this time for approval by the FDA. Additionally, topical forms of botulinum toxin (Revance) are under study at present. With time, these will likely come to market and be absorbed into the body of treatments for which Botox is used.
Currently, there are several anti-CGRP treatments undergoing clinical trials. Some of these treatments involve monoclonal antibodies, which reduce the activity of CGRP, potentially leading to fewer migraine attacks. One of these anti-CGRP monoclonal antibodies, erenumab (Aimovig™), has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and is now available for patients. A second agent, fremanezumab (Ajovy™), was approved in September 2018. A week later, the FDA approved galcanezumab (Emgality™), making it the third anti-CGRP treatment currently on the market. Results from the clinical trials involving anti-CGRP antibodies have shown that about 50 percent of patients will have at least a 50 percent reduction in migraine days. “If you think about someone who has 20 migraine days per month, they have a 50 percent chance of having 10 or less migraine days,” Dr. Starling says. “We think that there are even these super-responders who have a 75 percent response rate, as well as super-super-responders who actually go into remission.” The results from these clinical trials are very promising, Dr. Starling adds. “The adverse events have been very minimal and the efficacy has been very good. It’s all looking up.” Dr. Starling says that although these medications are available, what really needs to be looked at is how to make them truly accessible for patients. Erenumab can cost about $7,000 per year without insurance coverage. “Insurance coverage is very, very key for the majority of our patient population,” she says. “Because the medications just came out on the market, there are still a lot of unknowns about insurance coverage.”
“Most people in their twenties decide to try Botox simply because they want to enhance their appearance, such as relaxing the muscles in their forehead, or because they want to keep their skin looking fresh and young,” Shah says. “Starting earlier is better than later because as the lines get more and more embedded into the skin, Botox is not as effective in eliminating the lines.”
Costs to consider: immediate out-of-pocket costs, long-term higher cost of insurance, your time, and the pain of injections. Botox for migraine costs approximately $525 per vial (100 units) and a typical migraine dose is 155 units. Depending on what your doctor charges in addition to the Botox itself, it’ll set you back $1500 – $2300 to test it out. And then there’s the needle pain. Don’t make the mistake of going to get a Botox injection if you’re in the midst of an attack, because it’ll be more painful than ever. Better to reschedule.
Vials of BOTOX have a holographic film on the vial label that contains the name “Allergan” within horizontal lines of rainbow color. In order to see the hologram, rotate the vial back and forth between your fin gers under a desk lamp or fluorescent light source. (Note: the holographic film on the label is absent in the date/lot area.) If you do not see the lines of rainbow color or the name “Allergan”, do not use the product and contact Allergan for additional information at 1-800-890-4345 from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM Pacific Time.
Although one cannot predict exactly who will respond, I find that those patients who are going to respond will note some improvement in headaches following the first set of injections. Repeat injection sets can be performed on the same patient no sooner than every 3 months, as long as a benefit is seen. Most insurers require that you document at least a 50% improvement in the chronic migraine frequency and/or severity for continued coverage. I usually recommend that my migraine patients have a second set of injections before deciding that this treatment modality is of no benefit to them.
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.
Autonomic dysreflexia in patients treated for overactive bladder due to neurologic disease. Autonomic dysreflexia associated with intradetrusor injections of BOTOX® could occur in patients treated for detrusor overactivity associated with a neurologic condition and may require prompt medical therapy. In clinical trials, the incidence of autonomic dysreflexia was greater in patients treated with BOTOX® 200 Units compared with placebo (1.5% versus 0.4%, respectively).