Botox (also known as Vistabel outside the U.S. and the U.K.) is an injection that temporarily relaxes facial muscles to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as prevent new lines from forming. Common injection sites include the forehead, the area between the eyebrows, the corners of the eyes, and the sides of the chin. Botox can also be used for a wide variety of other conditions, including migraines, excessive sweating, and psoriasis. LEARN MORE ›
It’s been a little over three weeks. The neurologist said that after two weeks, my migraines and headaches should be substantially reduced. I haven’t spoken about it much even to people close to me because I didn’t want to jinx it, but right around the two-week mark, my headaches faded. I did have a migraine the day after the injections, followed by a lingering headache for about a week, but my neurologist didn’t think it was caused by the Botox. I know my body and have a feeling it was, especially because the introduction or removal of medication can exacerbate lupus symptoms and flares, so I was put on a prednisone taper just to be safe.

The frontalis muscle attaches to the skin of the lower forehead and ascends to join the fronto-occipital aponeurosis. The action of the frontalis muscle involves elevation of the eyebrows to produce expressions such as surprise, and can cause deep transverse wrinkles on the forehead. The antagonists for brow depression are the corrugators, procerus, and orbicularis oculi muscles.
BOTOX blocks neuromuscular transmission by binding to acceptor sites on motor or sympathetic nerve terminals, entering the nerve terminals, and inhibiting the release of acetylcholine. This inhibition occurs as the neurotoxin cleaves SNAP -25, a protein integral to the successful docking and release of acetylcholine from vesicles situated within nerve endings. When injected intramuscularly at therapeutic doses, BOTOX produces partial chemical denervation of the muscle resulting in a localized reduction in muscle act ivity. In addition, the muscle may atrophy, axonal sprouting may occur, and extrajunctional acetylcholine receptors may develop. There is evidence that reinnervation of the muscle may occur, thus slowly reversing muscle denervation produced by BOTOX.
“We don’t believe Botox is expensive when you look at the value that we provide,” says Marc Forth, senior vice president of US marketing at Allergan, the maker of Botox. Botox halves migraine days in 50 percent of patients who get the injections, Forth says. “We believe that value is worth the tradeoff.” Allergan doesn’t have a say on step therapy policies. Insurers “ultimately make that call on their own,” Forth says.

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Why Botox works isn’t completely clear. There’s some evidence that it may reduce the production of neurotransmitters related to pain in the areas where it’s injected. There’s also some evidence that it may have a broader effect on the brain’s pain centers, reducing the sensitivity that causes migraine sufferers to react to migraine triggers. While the exact mechanisms are poorly understood, the studies, as well as many of my patients’ experiences, do show a real benefit for many people.
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.

Bronchitis was reported more frequently as an adverse reaction in patients treated for upper limb spasticity with BOTOX® (3% at 251 Units to 360 Units total dose) compared to placebo (1%). In patients with reduced lung function treated for upper limb spasticity, upper respiratory tract infections were also reported more frequently as adverse reactions in patients treated with BOTOX® (11% at 360 Units total dose; 8% at 240 Units total dose) compared to placebo (6%). In adult patients treated for lower limb spasticity, upper respiratory tract infections were reported more frequently as an adverse event in patients treated with BOTOX® (2% at 300 Units to 400 Units total dose), compared to placebo (1%).
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In the case of Botox, doctors who experiment off-label say they do so because they're looking for better treatment options for their patients. "In my 30 years of medical practice, Botox is one of the most impactful treatments I had ever seen," says Dr. Linda Brubaker, dean and chief diversity officer of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, who independently studied Botox for overactive bladder before the FDA approved it for that condition in 2013.

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In many children, there are a few muscle groups that can have very active spasticity. A more focal approach to these muscles would be better than a widespread approach. In this case a doctor may advise a nerve block to interrupt the signal to the muscle that is spastic. Once the signal that is carried to the muscle by the nerve is interrupted, the spasticity will decrease.
There are many physicians who encourage their patients to either work the area several times during the next several days or, alternatively, to not use the affected muscles during the next several days. Many practitioners do not tell the patients to do anything in particular other than to avoid strenuous activity for several hours afterward because of an increased risk of bruising.
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.
In the mid- to late-1990’s dermatologists were the first to report headache relief to migraineurs who were receiving BOTOX injections to reduce facial (forehead) wrinkles. Initially there was significant controversy about whether BOTOX really did help migraine patients. The use of BOTOX for treatment of tension headaches was studied and found to be no more effective than placebo. With migraines, it was more complex. In 2009 the data showed that BOTOX injected in particular areas of the head and neck in patients who met the International Classification of Headache Disorders criteria for chronic migraine provided sufficient benefit to recommend the treatment modality. In 2010, the FDA approved BOTOX for chronic migraine and recommended the protocol of injections and treatment frequency that had been successful in the studies.

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.
If you are seeking a Botox specialist, I have more than thirty years experience injecting Botox in New York City and New Jersey. I am a recognized oculoplastic surgeon – you can find me on Google as Dr. Joel E. Kopelman. I have authored several peer reviewed articles regarding the efficacy and safety of Botox injections. You can easily make an appointment to see me in consultation at our office +1 (212) 831-8333 to set up a consultation with me in either New York or New Jersey.

Study 1 included 126 patients (64 BOTOX and 62 placebo) with upper limb spasticity (Ashworth score of at least 3 for wrist flexor tone and at least 2 for finger flexor tone) who were at least 6 months post -stroke. BOTOX (a total dose of 200 Units to 240 Units) and placebo were injected intramuscularly (IM) into the flexor digitorum profundus, flexor digito rum sublimis, flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, and if necessary into the adductor pollicis and flexor pollicis longus (see Table 25). Use of an EMG/nerve stimulator was recommended to assist in proper muscle localization for injection. Patients were followed for 12 weeks.
Over time, the muscles above and between the eyebrows repeatedly contract and tighten, causing wrinkles. Botox Cosmetic works beneath the skin’s surface and targets the underlying muscle activity that causes frown lines and crow’s feet to form over time. Normally when we squint, frown, or make other facial expressions, our nerves release a neurotransmitter chemical, known as acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter binds to receptors within the muscle to make it contract. Wrinkle relaxers like Botox and DYSPORT® work by binding to the acetylcholine receptors, and blocking the signal from the nerve to the muscles.

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.
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.

Study 1 included 126 patients (64 BOTOX and 62 placebo) with upper limb spasticity (Ashworth score of at least 3 for wrist flexor tone and at least 2 for finger flexor tone) who were at least 6 months post -stroke. BOTOX (a total dose of 200 Units to 240 Units) and placebo were injected intramuscularly (IM) into the flexor digitorum profundus, flexor digito rum sublimis, flexor carpi radialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, and if necessary into the adductor pollicis and flexor pollicis longus (see Table 25). Use of an EMG/nerve stimulator was recommended to assist in proper muscle localization for injection. Patients were followed for 12 weeks.
Botox treatments can help reduce symptoms of migraine headaches, including nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to lights, sounds, and smells. After you receive Botox injections, it may take as long as 10 to 14 days for you to experience relief. In some cases, you may not experience any relief from your symptoms following your first set of injections. Additional treatments may prove more effective.

Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is a neuropeptide found all over the body, says Dr. Amaal Starling, an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. This neuropeptide attaches to a receptor called a CGRP receptor. CGRP and its receptor are involved in numerous bodily processes—from gastrointestinal movement to the transmission of pain. Over the past few decades, there has been increasing evidence that CGRP plays a role in both migraine and cluster headache. During a migraine attack, researchers have found increased levels of CGRP in patients’ blood and saliva. They discovered migraine medications like sumatriptan reduced levels of CGRP in patients living with migraine. They also found that patients with chronic migraine—meaning 15 or more migraine days per month, eight of which either meet criteria for migraine or are treated with migraine-specific medication—had chronically elevated levels of CGRP. In addition, recent research found that giving a patient with migraine an infusion of CGRP would lead to a migraine-like attack. “All of these studies led to the hypothesis that CGRP and its receptor play a key role in migraine, as well as in cluster headache,” Dr. Starling says.
If the musculature of the oropharynx and esophagus are affected, aspiration may occur which may lead to development of aspira tion pneumonia. If the respiratory muscles become paralyzed or sufficiently weakened, intubation and assisted respiration may be necessary until recovery takes place. Supportive care could involve the need for a tracheostomy and/or prolonged mechanical ventilation, in addition to other general supportive care.
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]
As with the injection of any medication, your body's immune system can develop antibodies to the medication, which render the drug less effective or possibly cause development of an allergy to the drug. The more frequently the drug is injected or the more quantity that is injected, the higher the risk for these antibodies to be formed against the drug.

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.


"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.
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.
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).
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