Botox for migraines has been something that has flown under the radar, as many people know Botox as a procedure simply aimed at hiding fine lines. We turned to Matthew S. Robbins, MD, director of inpatient services at Montefiore Headache Center and the chief of neurology at the Jack D. Weiler Hospital, Montefiore, to break down the procedure for us. Scroll down to see what he has to say.
As with any drug, Allergan is legally required to make known Botox's most severe potential side effects, and in 2009 the FDA required Botox to bear a black-box warning--the strongest type of warning label given to any drug--cautioning that there was evidence the drug had been linked to serious side effects. With Botox, this includes effects spreading from the injection site to other parts of the body, causing muscle weakness, double vision and drooping eyelids.
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In the before and after picture of my mom's Botox treatment, my mom paid $350 and was charged per area. She chooses reputable physicians that may be slightly more expensive than average, but have good patient reviews and are well-trained and skilled. To her, it is more worth it to have a doctor who knows how to cater the right technique to her skin issues than to have a doctor who injects her with a certain quantity of Botox but with poor or ineffective technique. This doesn't mean that the more expensive a doctor is, the better he or she will be. It just means that similar to how you would hesitate if the treatment is really expensive, you should also hesitate if the Botox treatment is really inexpensive. Good Botox requires a skilled hand and this is especially important since Botox is a treatment that can definitely be botched.
Spread of toxin effects. The effect of botulinum toxin may affect areas away from the injection site and cause serious symptoms including: loss of strength and all-over muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision and drooping eyelids, hoarseness or change or loss of voice, trouble saying words clearly, loss of bladder control, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing.

I had no idea my health insurance could take Botox away from me. I checked Cigna’s policy and found out that in order to continue receiving Botox coverage after one year, I need to get at least seven fewer migraine days — or at least 100 fewer migraine hours — per month compared to pre-Botox treatments. (I keep a diary to record when I have migraines.) Worse still, if I were to change my job — and therefore change my health insurance — my new insurance could ask me to run through the cheap medication gauntlet again before covering Botox.
Severe side effects are very rare but can happen if the botulinum toxin unexpectedly spreads throughout the body from the site of the shots. This can cause muscle weakness, hoarseness or trouble talking, trouble saying words clearly, loss of bladder control, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, double vision, blurred vision and drooping eyelids. The breathing and swallowing problems can be life-threatening. If this happens, seek medical attention right away.
These injection sites have been carefully chosen to treat specific nerve endings that are sending pain signals. BOTOX for migraines has proven to be a highly-effective treatment for people who are living with the painful, debilitating symptoms of chronic migraines. BOTOX will be carefully and correctly injected into muscles just beneath the skin. The procedure is not particularly painful, with a sensation of pinpricks.
“Your doctor still has to be willing to do the work of filing a waiver and they don’t get reimbursed for that work, so they don’t like to do it,” Hoffman says. Plus, there’s a federal law called ERISA that exempts certain types of employer-provided health plans, called self-funded plans, from the requirements of state laws. So, for roughly a quarter of Americans who have these health plans, the state limitations to step therapy don’t apply.
The potency Units of BOTOX® are specific to the preparation and assay method utilized. They are not interchangeable with other preparations of botulinum toxin products and, therefore, Units of biological activity of BOTOX® cannot be compared to nor converted into Units of any other botulinum toxin products assessed with any other specific assay method.

Study 2 compared 3 doses of BOTOX with placebo and included 91 patients [BOTOX 360 Units (N=21), BOTOX 180 Units (N=23), BOTOX 90 Units (N=21), and placebo (N=26)] with upper limb spasticity (expanded Ashworth score of at least 2 for elbow flexor tone and at least 3 for wrist flexor tone) who were at least 6 weeks post-stroke. BOTOX and placebo were injected with EMG guidance into the flexor digitorum profundus, flexor digitorum sublimis, flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, and bic eps brachii (see Table 27).
The needle should be inserted approximately 2 mm into the detrusor, and 30 injections of 1 mL (~6.7 Units) each (total volume of 30 mL) should be spaced approximately 1 cm apart (see Figure 1). For the final injection, approximately 1 mL of sterile normal s aline should be injected so that the remaining BOTOX in the needle is delivered to the bladder. After the injections are given, the saline used for bladder wall visualization should be drained. The patient should be observed for at least 30 minutes post -injection.
The patient is placed in a somewhat raised position on the exam table, and the areas to be injected are cleansed with a nonalcohol cleanser, such as Hibiclens or Betadine. Some physicians will apply a topical anesthetic, such as EMLA cream or some alternative, at this time. The Botox is then injected into the desired areas. Typical injection patterns include about four or five areas on each side of the forehead and two or three areas on either eye area. More areas can be injected by skilled physicians, depending on the type of wrinkles and the desired effect for the patient. It is common for pressure to be applied if an area seems to be bleeding after the injection. While ice is sometimes applied beforehand for comfort reasons, direct pressure is much more effective than ice for control of bleeding and bruising.
The idea of a needle going toward your forehead, in between your eyes, or at your eyebrows might be a little daunting, but rest assured, not only is Botox FDA-approved, but it’s a very common (and highly-requested) procedure. It’s commonly used for cosmetic reasons, but it also helps alleviate a slew of other health concerns.”Botox was first approved by the FDA in 1989 to treat blepharospasm of the eyelid, and now can treat hundreds of medical conditions, such as hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) or chronic migraines,” dermatologist Jill S. Waibel, MD. She also notes that it was only approved for cosmetic purposes in 2002. “Since then, millions of people have had Botox done safely and effectively. It is important to remember that Botox is safest when used by a board certified dermatologist or a plastic surgeon.”

Selecting the correct injection points is critical to the success of the procedure. These points are first scored with a marking pencil. Your doctor will likely select numerous injection points for each location to be treated. (These points are located where the muscle contracts — not necessarily at the wrinkle you are hoping to erase.) The Botox filler is then injected into the marked points beneath the skin.
Just because not every cosmetic Botox procedure is FDA-approved doesn't mean it's not safe and effective, if done properly. Off-label procedures are still within the standard of care, and there are tons of them. “There are so many non-FDA-approved applications for Botox,” says dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. “It can be used to decrease scalp-sweating (which helps prolong blowouts), correct a droopy nasal tip (called nasal-tip ptosis), fix brow asymmetry, minimize bunny lines from wrinkling your nose, decrease skin oiliness, minimize the appearance of pores...” The list goes on and on.
Treatment with botulinum toxins may weaken neck muscles that serve as accessory muscles of ventilation. This may result in a critical loss of breathing capacity in patients with respiratory disorders who may have become dependent upon these accessory muscles. There have been postmarketing reports of serious breathing difficulties, including respiratory failure.
With regard to detection, current protocols using NBC detection equipment (such as M-8 paper or the ICAM) will not indicate a "positive" when samples containing botulinum toxin are tested.[citation needed] To confirm a diagnosis of botulinum toxin poisoning, therapeutically or to provide evidence in death investigations, botulinum toxin may be quantitated by immunoassay of human biological fluids; serum levels of 12–24 mouse LD50 units per milliliter have been detected in poisoned patients.[63]

The Botox used for migraines and the Botox used for cosmetic procedures is actually exactly the same. "Basically, young and middle-aged women were getting [Botox] for cosmetic purposes, and that’s the most common person that has migraines, and that’s how they figured out it was helpful," Ravitz tells me. Women were getting Botox for aesthetic reasons and happened to notice relief from their migraine symptoms, and doctors began looking into it as a direct treatment. In fact, women are disproportionately affected by migraines — about 85 percent of chronic-migraine sufferers are women, and the condition affects 28 million in just the U.S.


Allergan PLC (AGN) is a large market cap ($65B) biopharmaceutical company with a pipeline of innovative and generic therapeutics for diseases affecting the eyes, bowel, lungs, skin, urogenital systems and brain. Through the acquisition of Tobira Pharmaceuticals and its assets including cenicriviroc (CVC), Allergan is one of the leaders in the clinical development of anti-NASH therapeutics (the focus of this article).

In 1998, David E.I. Pyott became CEO of Allergan. He was enthusiastic about Botox's wrinkle-reducing potential, he says, and pushed the company to conduct a series of studies on the matter. In 2002, Botox earned FDA approval for so-called frown lines--wrinkles between eyebrows--marking the first time a pharmaceutical drug was given the green light for a strictly cosmetic purpose. In 2001, the year before Botox was approved for wrinkles, it generated about $310 million in sales. By 2013, the year it was approved for overactive bladder, Allergan reported nearly $2 billion in revenue from Botox.
Botox can be bought by essentially any person with a DEA certificate. Allergan sells it in 50 and 100 unit vials. They are shipped overnight delivery on dry ice to keep the toxin effective it should be opened, reconstituted and used the same day ideally. The Botox will work best this way. Price points will change by who the injector is and what their motives are. Botox can be reconstituted so that you getting a very dilute amount of product. So a by the area approach may really only give you a small amount of product. Or you could be getting old Botox that is a week old and will not last for very long.
This medication can spread to other parts of the body after your injection, causing serious (possibly fatal) side effects. These can occur hours or even weeks after the injection. However, the chances of such serious side effects occurring when this medication is used for migraines or skin conditions such as wrinkles, eye spasm, or excessive sweating are extremely unlikely.
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Recently, there have been concerns about retrograde botulinum toxin transmission, meaning that the toxin could travel back to the central nervous system, causing long-term damage. Studies done in Italy by Flavia Antonucci have been mainly on a raw form of the toxin and not any of the commercially available preparations. Additionally, these studies have been performed on animals and with the injection of the toxin to one area and in a concentration of nearly 150 times greater than normal injections for cosmetic indications, which are spread over multiple sites.
Andrew M. Blumenfeld is director of The Headache Center of Southern California. Most of his research has focused on the use of OnabotulinumtoxinA in the treatment of chronic migraine. He helped develop the injection paradigm approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and has taught providers around the world on practical aspects of this treatment option.
"As we get older, we lose volume in our face and hyaluronic acid filler can be used as a replacement,” explains Wexler. "For younger women, injections can be used to treat areas with acne scarring or hollowness under the eyes." During your ‘20s, when the face is at its fullest and healthiest, it has been argued that a shadowy gaze can even be quite charming. But in other cases, hereditary dark circles can result in a persistently tired look, which is where a few drops of filler under the eyes may be useful. As top dermatologist David Colbert, M.D. is quick to note, however, too much Botox and filler distorts the face and as a result will make you appear older. “When the line is crossed everyone starts looking like they are related," he also cautions of a uniform cookie-cutter appearance that lacks character or individuality. Or worse. “It’s a snowball effect of people liking something, coming back too soon [for even more], and then it gets too heavy,” adds Wexler.

During treatment, very low doses of Botox® Cosmetic are administered via a few tiny injections directly into the muscles responsible for frown lines between the brows. By blocking the release of a chemical that causes them to contract, Botox® Cosmetic enables them to relax. The effects are very localized and, when administered by an experienced injector, do not affect your ability to smile, laugh, or otherwise show expression. Botox® Cosmetic is the only product of its kind that has been approved for use in this area.
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).

Recently, there have been concerns about retrograde botulinum toxin transmission, meaning that the toxin could travel back to the central nervous system, causing long-term damage. Studies done in Italy by Flavia Antonucci have been mainly on a raw form of the toxin and not any of the commercially available preparations. Additionally, these studies have been performed on animals and with the injection of the toxin to one area and in a concentration of nearly 150 times greater than normal injections for cosmetic indications, which are spread over multiple sites.
On average, each BOTOX treatment requires 32 injections, though individual patients may require fewer or more. You’ll receive injections every twelve weeks, and each session only takes a few minutes. BOTOX begins to work as soon as it’s injected, and you should see full results within a week of your first injections. Most patients who benefit from BOTOX treatments receive five rounds of injections over 15 months. BOTOX is injected using a very fine needle. Most patients describe it as feeling like a tiny pinprick.
The safety and efficacy of onabotulinumtoxinA for CM was demonstrated in the pivotal phase III Research Evaluating Migraine Prophylaxis Therapy (PREEMPT) trial. In this trial, patients were treated every 12 weeks whether or not their headaches had returned to baseline levels and the primary outcome period was after two treatment cycles. At baseline, these patients had more than 19 headache days, and after two treatment cycles, their headaches had been reduced by 8 to 9 days per 28 days. The responder rate analysis of the study population shows that about 25% of patients improved by 75% in terms of a reduction of migraine days. In my practice, I usually do three cycles 12 weeks apart, and only if there is no change in headache frequency after this, do I change treatments. In the pivotal trials, the first statistical separation from placebo occurred in the first 4 weeks. There is a small subgroup of patients who fail to respond to the first two treatments and only start to respond after the third treatment.4-10
When asked how often he turns people away, Dr. Matarasso says: “I turned someone away today. I had a gentleman come in, he was an appropriate candidate anatomically, he had some deep lines in his forehead, but his expectations were unrealistic. He wanted every line erased, and I said, ‘No, you are going to look a little mask-like.’ I gave him a brochure and said, 'Go home and think about it.'”

In 1998, David E.I. Pyott became CEO of Allergan. He was enthusiastic about Botox's wrinkle-reducing potential, he says, and pushed the company to conduct a series of studies on the matter. In 2002, Botox earned FDA approval for so-called frown lines--wrinkles between eyebrows--marking the first time a pharmaceutical drug was given the green light for a strictly cosmetic purpose. In 2001, the year before Botox was approved for wrinkles, it generated about $310 million in sales. By 2013, the year it was approved for overactive bladder, Allergan reported nearly $2 billion in revenue from Botox.
Botox injections for migraines have been proven to reduce the intensity and duration of migraines for those who suffer. Botox was developed in the 1970s by an ophthalmologist who was looking to develop a treatment for strabismus (crossed eyes). This simple migraine treatment was discovered accidentally when people undergoing plastic surgery also experienced migraine relief. While they don’t work for everyone, Botox injections for migraines offer another way to approach treatment of migraine headaches.

This product contains albumin, a derivative of human blood. Based on effective donor screening and product manufacturi ng processes, it carries an extremely remote risk for transmission of viral diseases. A theoretical risk for transmission of Creutzfeldt -Jakob disease (CJD) is also considered extremely remote. No cases of transmission of viral diseases or CJD have ever be en reported for albumin.


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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.


The toxin itself is released from the bacterium as a single chain, then becomes activated when cleaved by its own proteases.[11] The active form consists of a two-chain protein composed of a 100-kDa heavy chain polypeptide joined via disulfide bond to a 50-kDa light chain polypeptide.[35] The heavy chain contains domains with several functions: it has the domain responsible for binding specifically to presynaptic nerve terminals, as well as the domain responsible for mediating translocation of the light chain into the cell cytoplasm as the vacuole acidifies.[1][35] The light chain is a zinc metalloprotease and is the active part of the toxin. It is translocated into the host cell cytoplasm where it cleaves the host protein SNAP-25, a member of the SNARE protein family which is responsible for fusion. The cleaved SNAP-25 is unable to mediate fusion of vesicles with the host cell membrane, thus preventing the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from axon endings.[1] This blockage is slowly reversed as the toxin loses activity and the SNARE proteins are slowly regenerated by the affected cell.[1]
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