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.
That Groupon offer might be tempting, but Dr. Tutela recommends doing a thorough vetting of your practitioner’s history and methods before signing up for treatment. “I think it is important to ask any provider if they perform that procedure frequently, to gauge their experience,” he says. He also suggests to ask if they’ve experienced any major complications and to check their online reviews. “You can get a sense of how you will be treated and what kind of experience other patients have had,” Dr. Tutela says. “Many of those low-cost, high-volume practices are loaded with horrible reviews from disappointed patients.”
Patients with compromised respiratory status treated with BOTOX for spasticity should be monitored closely. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group study in patients treated for upper limb spasticity with stable reduced pulmonary function (defined as FEV1 40-80% of predicted value and FEV1/FVC ≤0.75), the event rate in change of Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) ≥15% or ≥20% was generally greater in patients treated with BOTOX than in patients treated with placebo (see Table 5).
University-based ophthalmologists in the USA and Canada further refined the use of botulinum toxin as a therapeutic agent. By 1985, a scientific protocol of injection sites and dosage had been empirically determined for treatment of blepharospasm and strabismus. Side effects in treatment of this condition were deemed to be rare, mild and treatable. The beneficial effects of the injection lasted only 4–6 months. Thus, blepharospasm patients required re-injection two or three times a year.
My patients who do respond say that it is absolutely worth it. For people who can’t get their headaches under control with the usual medications, or who suffer from problematic side effects from those drugs, Botox can be a great option. For many of my patients, it has reduced their medication needs and restored their ability to function in their jobs and families.
In response to the occurrence of these side effects, in 2008 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notified the public of the potential dangers of the botulinum toxin as a therapeutic. Namely, they warned that the toxin can spread to areas distant from the site of injection and paralyze unintended muscle groups, especially when used for treating muscle spasticity in children treated for cerebral palsy. In 2009, the FDA announced that boxed warnings would be added to available botulinum toxin products, warning of their ability to spread from the injection site. Additionally, the FDA announced name changes to several botulinum toxin products, meant to emphasize that the products are not interchangeable and require different doses for proper use. Botox and Botox Cosmetic were renamed onabotulinumtoxinA, Myobloc was renamed rimabotulinumtoxinB, and Dysport name renamed abobotulinumtoxinA. In conjunction with this, the FDA issued a communication to health care professionals reiterating the new drug names and the approved uses for each. A similar warning was issued by Health Canada in 2009, warning that botulinum toxin products can spread to other parts of the body.
Some doctors and dermatologists recommend lying down and resting after a treatment, but Ravitz says she doesn't think there's any need for downtime unless a patient experiences pain. It can take about two weeks to work, though some patients start to feel relief from chronic migraines sooner than that. Ravitz tells me, "If it’s going to work for a patient, one round of the treatment typically lasts for around three months." Though everybody metabolizes it at a different rate, getting it done every three months or so has been found to be effective.
There has not been a confirmed serious case of spread of toxin effect away from the injection site when BOTOX® has been used at the recommended dose to treat chronic migraine, severe underarm sweating, blepharospasm, strabismus, or when BOTOX® Cosmetic has been used at the recommended dose to treat frown lines, crow’s feet lines, and/or forehead lines.