Before I could try Botox, my health insurance — Cigna — required me to try and fail at least two other meds. I tried tricyclic antidepressants, which made me groggy and turned my brain into molasses, and beta blockers, a class of drugs used for high blood pressure and heart problems. (All treatments to prevent migraines are borrowed from other conditions, except a new class of drugs that was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration.) The beta blockers worked for a few months: they slightly reduced the number of migraines and made the headaches more bearable. But late last year, the migraines became chronic again — I had more than 15 in a month. That’s when my neurologist said: “I think it’s time to try Botox.”
Once the protein stops functioning at the neuromuscular junction, it is broken down into its harmless components (amino acids) and either recycled for use in other proteins or excreted by the kidneys. "The bigger the muscle, the quicker you'll see motion return," says Rowe. "Likewise, the smaller the muscle, the longer the effect of botox lasts." It doesn't have a tolerance effect, either—your body never gets used to Botox.
Botulinum toxin is used to treat a number of disorders characterized by overactive muscle movement, including post-stroke spasticity, post-spinal cord injury spasticity, spasms of the head and neck,[8] eyelid,[9] vagina,[10] limbs, jaw, and vocal cords.[11] Similarly, botulinum toxin is used to relax clenching of muscles, including those of the oesophagus,[12] jaw,[13] lower urinary tract and bladder,[14] or clenching of the anus which can exacerbate anal fissure.[15] It may also be used for improper eye alignment.[16] Botulinum toxin appears to be effective for refractory overactive bladder.[17]
On July 7, 2015, the company acquired the rights to the late stage CGRP migraine portfolio of Merck & Co, as well as two experimental drugs (MK-1602 and MK-8031) for an upfront payment of $250 million.[12] On August 10, the company acquired Oculeve for $125 million.[13] On August 31, the company acquired Naurex for an upfront payment of $560 million.[14] On October 19, the company acquired AqueSys, developer of ocular implants that reduce intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma, for an initial payment of $300 million.[15] On October 1, the company acquired Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, a company focused on the medical aesthetics market, for $2.1 billion.[16] On November 4 the company announced the acquisition of Northwood Medical Innovation, developer of earFold, a medical device to correct protruding ears.[17] On November 25, 2015, the company announced it would partner with Rugen Therapeutic to develop new therapies for autism spectrum disorder, rabies and obsessive compulsive disorder.[18]
A follow-up visit is most often scheduled at around three months after injection. The team will determine if it was helpful and if the effect is wearing off. The effect on muscle spasticity by botulinum toxin is temporary and can last for up to three to five months. This also varies with the amount of toxin injected, the size of the muscle, the degree of spasticity in the muscle, and treatment such as therapy and bracing.
The following adverse reactions have been identified during post-approval use of BOTOX. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure. These reactions include: abdominal pain; alopecia, including madarosis; anorexia; brachial plexopathy; denervation/muscle atrophy; diarrhea; hyperhidrosis; hypoacusis; hypoaesthesia; malaise; paresthesia; peripheral neuropathy; radiculopathy; erythema multiforme, dermatitis psoriasiform, and psoriasiform eruption; strabismus; tinnitus; and visual disturbances.
Botox takes three to five days to kick in, with the full effect becoming apparent within two weeks. Some people say they know when it’s taken effect because it suddenly feels like there’s duct tape on their forehead. “Botox will affect the way your facial muscles move, and it can feel funny when you can’t move your face to make a particular expression,” Dr. Shainhouse explains. “Also, sometimes injection of Botox in one area can affect another area—for example, injecting too low on the forehead to reduce wrinkles above the brows can actually end up lowering the brows, which is not always ideal. You may also experience a super-tight feeling in the beginning, before your body has time to adjust to the toxin.” These are the 50 things your surgeon won’t tell you.
According to the PREEMPT injection paradigm, a total of 5 units of onabotulinumtoxinA is injected into each corrugator muscle. To confirm the location of the muscle, the patient is asked to furrow the brow in order to activate the corrugator. Once the muscle has been located, the muscle should be palpated and pinched by holding it between the thumb and index finger. Five units of onabotulinumtoxinA is injected at an approximate 90° angle with the bevel of the needle pointing upward into the medial belly of the muscle. As the needle is inserted, there is skin resistance, which lessens when the muscle is penetrated. This decrease in resistance is termed a muscle pop. Once the muscle pop occurs, inject into the superficial muscle. If the injection is too far superior or above the corrugator muscle, brow ptosis can occur due to depression of the medial brow as the frontalis elevating function is lost and the corrugator depressing function remains unopposed. Whereas weakening the corrugator muscle will cause elevation of the medial eyebrow, alternatively, if the corrugator injection is done too low, then diffusion to the levator palpebral muscle could lead to lid ptosis.
Getting Botox takes only a few minutes and no anesthesia is required. Botox is injected with a fine needle into specific muscles with only minor discomfort. It generally takes three to seven days to take full effect and it is best to avoid alcohol at least one week prior to treatment. Aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications should be stopped two weeks before treatment as well in order to reduce bruising.

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.
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]
William J. Binder reported in 2000 that patients who had cosmetic injections around the face reported relief from chronic headache.[57] This was initially thought to be an indirect effect of reduced muscle tension, but it is now known that the toxin inhibits release of peripheral nociceptive neurotransmitters, suppressing the central pain processing systems responsible for migraine headache.[58][59]
"I had 25 units of Botox done by Dr. Goldberg on my forehead and frown lines. Few days later I could see the result with which I was very happy! [...] I have done Botox few times before with other specialists, after which my face would resemble a doll [...] However, after procedure with Dr. Goldberg, I am still able to lift my eyebrows and frown without forming any wrinkles." – from Dinara D.'s review of Alexander Golberg Physician PC in New York.
So when I first propositioned my husband about the idea of me getting a bit of Botox for the furrowed brow I've earned from a decade of writing and editing behind a computer screen, he was adamantly against it. And frankly, I was a bit scared too. I mean, isn't Botox poison? As an idealistic 21 year old, it was easy to say that I'd never put that stuff in my body, that "poison." Now, I'm not so sure.

Individuals with peripheral motor neuropathic diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or neuromuscular junction disorders (e. g., myasthenia gravis or Lambert-Eaton syndrome) should be monitored when given botulinum toxin. Patients with neuromuscular disorders may be at increased risk of clinically significant effects including generalized muscle weakness, diplopia, ptosis, dysphonia, dysarthria, severe dysphagia and respiratory compromise from therapeutic doses of BOTOX [see Dysphagia And Breathing Difficulties].

The cosmetic benefits came to light in the 1990s by happy coincidence. “The aesthetic indications were purely happenstance,” says board-certified surgeon and clinical professor Seth L. Matarasso, MD, who has been treating his clients with Botox since the 1990s but is not affiliated with the brand. “Dr. [Jean] Carruthers was working with patients with strabismus...[and] with diplopia [double vision], and her patients were coming in and saying, ‘Gee, my wrinkles are better.'" Soon enough, doctors were using Botox for what it is most commonly associated with today — nixing lines.
The FDA approved such usage in the late 1980s when it was discovered that BOTOX® could stop ailments such as blepharospasm (uncontrolled blinking) and strabismus (lazy eye). Cosmetic physicians have been using BOTOX® for years to successfully treat wrinkles and facial creases. BOTOX® is approved for treatment of frown lines on the forehead, crow’s feet (lines around the eye), and axillary hyperhidrosis (increased sweating of the armpits). Within the past few years, new products that have similar preparations have been introduced into the U.S. market and have been well-received by patients.
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).
So people told me I looked tired, overlooking the grape-size purple bruise smack dab in the center of my forehead. As one RealSelf reviewer wrote: “My head feels too tight, my eyebrow position has dropped enough to lose my nice pretty arch and my eyelids seem hooded. My eyes look smaller.” Now, if it works, looking a bit tired is a small price to pay for a few more days each month of migraine freedom and function. And bruises can be covered with makeup.
Study 3 compared 3 doses of BOTOX with placebo and enrolled 88 patients [BOTOX 360 Units (N=23), BOTOX 180 Units (N=23), BOTOX 90 Units (N=23), and placebo (N=19)] with upper limb spasticity (expanded Ashworth score of at least 2 for elbow flexor tone and at least 3 for wrist flexor tone and/or finger 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 sublimi s, flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, and biceps brachii (see Table 27).
A migraine requires only two of the following headache features: a unilateral distribution (one-sided), pulsatile quality (throbbing), moderate or severe pain (more than 5 out of 10), and aggravation by physical activity (such as bending over). In addition, to diagnose migraine, only one of the following is required: nausea or vomiting or sensitivity to light and noise.

When my babies were little, I never discussed migraine with them. As they grew into preschool and elementary age, I found it necessary to explain it to them.  They had seen me experience migraine symptoms for a long time but understood it as just being sick. We went to a migraine walk where we talked about how others cope like I do, and they heard other stories that were similar to mine. They felt empowered that we had fundraised for a disease that affects millions and that we were fighting it as a family and community. My children want to help. Having ways they can help builds their confidence in their ability to take care of me, as I do them. They know to turn the lights off, get ice and talk quietly. I have taught them how to be self-sufficient. I’m so proud of how they take care of themselves and are willing to take care of others. The qualities that they’re learning and displaying will carry them through life.
The most commonly reported side effects for JUVÉDERM® injectable gels were injection-site redness, swelling, pain, tenderness, firmness, lumps/bumps, bruising, discoloration, and itching. For JUVÉDERM VOLBELLA® XC, dryness was also reported. For JUVÉDERM VOLUMA® XC, side effects were predominantly moderate in severity, with duration of 2 to 4 weeks; for JUVÉDERM® Ultra XC , JUVÉDERM® Ultra Plus XC, or JUVÉDERM VOLLURE™ XC, they were mostly mild or moderate in severity, with duration of 14 days or less; and for JUVÉDERM VOLBELLA® XC, they were predominantly mild or moderate, with duration of 30 days or less.

Tell your doctor if you 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 injection; take muscle relaxants; take allergy or cold medicines; take sleep medicine; take aspirin-like products or blood thinners.


Potential Botox side effects include pain at the injection site, infection, inflammation, swelling, redness, bleeding and bruising. Some of these symptoms may indicate an allergic reaction; other allergy symptoms are itching, wheezing, asthma, a rash, red welts, dizziness and faintness. Tell your doctor immediately if you have any breathing issues or a faint or dizzy feeling.

Simply put, "Baby Botox" uses a lower volume of Botox (a.k.a. botulinum toxin injections) than a traditional injection to smooth fine lines and wrinkles. "Instead of using 25 units in an area, you may use 10 units," Melissa Doft, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City, tells Allure. "I have many patients who ask for half the normal dose, as they do not want to look frozen but are tired of wrinkles in photos. First-time Botox patients are perfect for this."
This is where Botox comes into play. When you get consistent Botox injections, you prevent potential wrinkle formations from getting deeper or worse. Botox limits the range of facial muscle movement (when done skillfully, your face will not get that frozen look) so that wrinkles don't worsen over time. If you have a bad habit of frowning or lifting your brows for no reason, consistent Botox injections can also help your face kick these bad habits and therefore prevent any potential lines from getting etched in your skin. Getting frequent Botox injections may also help relax your facial muscles so that you don't need as a high a dose or as frequent as an injection to maintain your results.

Serious and/or immediate hypersensitivity reactions have been reported. These reactions include anaphylaxis, serum sickness, urticaria, soft-tissue edema, and dyspnea. If such reactions occur, further injection of BOTOX® Cosmetic should be discontinued and appropriate medical therapy immediately instituted. One fatal case of anaphylaxis has been reported in which lidocaine was used as the diluent and, consequently, the causal agent cannot be reliably determined.
Two preparations of botulinum antitoxins are available for treatment of botulism. Trivalent (A,B,E) botulinum antitoxin is derived from equine sources using whole antibodies. The second antitoxin is Heptavalent (A,B,C,D,E,F,G) botulinum antitoxin, which is derived from equine antibodies which have been altered to make them less immunogenic. This antitoxin is effective against all known strains of botulism.
So people told me I looked tired, overlooking the grape-size purple bruise smack dab in the center of my forehead. As one RealSelf reviewer wrote: “My head feels too tight, my eyebrow position has dropped enough to lose my nice pretty arch and my eyelids seem hooded. My eyes look smaller.” Now, if it works, looking a bit tired is a small price to pay for a few more days each month of migraine freedom and function. And bruises can be covered with makeup.
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.
Some industry insiders say it's not unusual, if still legally murky, for drug-company representatives and doctors to share information with one another about the different ways an approved drug may be used. If a doctor notices that, say, a treatment for crossed eyes also "takes the lines out," he may mention it to the representative from whom he buys the drugs. That rep may share that with another of his clients, and so on.
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.

According to Ravitz, it's very effective among a large sampling of her patients and is usually very well tolerated. She says some of her patients find that it even eliminates the need for medication, which is a huge deal. However, she also says, "About 7 to 10 percent of my patients find that it’s not effective and they actually feel worse during that time." As with any medical procedure, everybody (and everyone's actual body) is different and will respond to treatment differently, and it's best to do a healthy amount of research and thoroughly talk to your doctor about your body and medical history before making a decision.

The primary release procedure for BOTOX uses a cell-based potency assay to determine the potency relative to a reference standard. The assay is specific to Allergan's products BOTOX and BOTOX Cosmetic. One Unit of BOTOX corresponds to the calculated median intraperitoneal lethal dose (LD50) in mice. Due to specific details of this assay such as the vehicle, dilution scheme, and laboratory protocols, Units of biological activity of BOTOX cannot be compared to nor converted into Units of any other botulinum toxin or any toxin assessed with any other specific assay method. The specific activity of BOTOX is approximately 20 Units/nanogram of neurotoxin protein complex.


Most doctors who provide cosmetic services such as BOTOX® treatments accept payment by various methods, including cash, personal check, major credit cards, or through arrangements made with an established lending institution. Some practices even offer their own financing plans. Don’t be afraid to inquire about BOTOX® treatment financing during your initial consultation.

That said, there are a few things I'd make sure everyone knows before trying it. For one thing, it can be pretty painful. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but getting 30 to 40 shots every three months is pretty rough — it feels a bit like getting tattooed with a bee's stinger, but once the needle is out of your skin, the pain goes away, and if it works for you, it's worth it. It's also important to know that it can take some time to work. The first treatment barely worked at all for me, and the second round took a few weeks. If you're going to try it out, be patient.
Allergan says Botox is well established as a drug and that the benefits and risks of toxins are well understood. "With more than 25 years of real-world clinical experience ... approximately 3,200 articles in scientific and medical journals, marketing authorizations in more than 90 markets and many different indications, Botox and Botox Cosmetic are [among] the most widely researched medicines in the world," an Allergan rep wrote in an emailed statement.
As you noted in your question, the effects of Botox don't last forever. For some patients the short term effects of Botox are a ‘good thing,’ as it means that trying Botox is a relatively low risk/low commitment procedure. If you don't like your Botox results, there's not much to worry about: They will fade on their own in a few months. Generally speaking, the results last between three to five months -- but the duration of the Botox effect depends on the individual and on how many Botox units were used.
"We were very skeptical," says Edwin Chapman, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, after reading Caleo's study. But in August 2016, Chapman and his graduate student Ewa Bomba-Warczak published a study in the journal Cell Reports showing similar spreading effects in animal cells in the lab. For Chapman, it explained what he was hearing anecdotally from doctors: that Botox might be influencing the central nervous system and not just the area where it's being injected.
Our advice: if you’re going to try it, don’t give up on Botox for Migraine after the first try, and reconsider whether you’re a good candidate after three tries. Both Drs. Jackson and Kornel noted that there was a large placebo effect seen in many of the studies. “It’s hard to know if most of the benefit was from the drug or from the placebo effect,” said Jackson, who added, “but, patients don’t care if it’s a placebo effect.”
Another factor to consider, more high volume practices have more patient incentives from Allergan and the other manufacturers. My patient's receive rebates from the company, instant savings at the checkout, and regular reminders about upcoming treatments and specials that are sponsored by Allergan. This program is only available to the nation's busiest, most successful practices.
Side effects from therapeutic use can be much more varied depending on the location of injection and the dose of toxin injected. In general, side effects from therapeutic use can be more serious than those that arise during cosmetic use. These can arise from paralysis of critical muscle groups and can include arrhythmia, heart attack, and in some cases seizures, respiratory arrest, and death.[27] Additionally, side effects which are common in cosmetic use are also common in therapeutic use, including trouble swallowing, muscle weakness, allergic reactions, and flu-like syndromes.[27]
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