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.”
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.
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.
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.
Fine lines, frown lines, how-did-those-get-there lines. Whatever you call them, a few minutes of Botox can smooth wrinkles on your forehead, in-between your eyes, and crow’s feet. This is a non-invasive FDA-approved treatment that requires zero downtime, so you can come in and erase those signs of aging on your lunch break. Using a very fine needle we inject Botox intothe facial muscles responsible for those annoying wrinkles, totally relaxing them and reducing their ability to contract. Don’t worry, you’ll be out the door and on your way to feeling refreshed and radiating confidence in no time.
Lalvani previously worked in organizations dedicated to diabetes, breast cancer and kidney disease, but strongly identifies with our community because she is living with migraine. She recalls first getting what she thought were terribly debilitating headaches when she was 18. “I had no idea what a migraine was,” she said, “and I never saw anyone around me have a migraine, so I had no idea what I was dealing with, and no one else around me knew what I was dealing with.” Lalvani is excited to see the progress that’s been made recently in migraine care and the tremendous effort that AMF has put forth in helping advance research to produce therapies at a faster rate. As you know, the mission for AMF is to drive and support impactful research that translates into treatment advances as well as mobilize the community for patient support and advocacy.

BOTOX may be an effective treatment for those who suffer from chronic migraines. Many patients have struggled to find a treatment that truly provides relief from this debilitating condition. While there are migraine medications and a host of natural remedies, for many people, none of these methods bring real relief. BOTOX may be the option that brings the relief from pain that patients have been seeking for so long.
There’s a wide variety of factors that influence the total cost: the number of units required to effectively limit facial movement in the forehead, the areas in the upper face you wish to treat, the experience level of your injector, and finally, the location of the clinic where you undergo the procedure. Botox is usually charged per unit, with a unit priced from $10 to $20. The final price can also be determined per area treated, with the forehead and frown lines charged as two seperate areas.
Dosing in initial and sequential treatment sessions should be tailored to the individual patient based on the patient’s head and neck position, localization of pain, muscle hypertrophy, patient response, and adverse event history. The initial dose for a patie nt without prior use of BOTOX should be at a lower dose, with subsequent dosing adjusted based on individual response. Limiting the total dose injected into the sternocleidomastoid muscle to 100 Units or less may decrease the occurrence of dysphagia [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

In addition to glabellar lines, Botox is used to eradicate crow’s feet, frown lines, and lines and furrows in the forehead. Whereas treating crow's feet and forehead lines with Botox was for many years an off-label use, the toxin has since received FDA approval for both uses. Botox is also approved to treat a variety of medical conditions, including ocular muscle spasms, problems with eye coordination, severe armpit perspiration, migraine headaches, overactive bladder, urinary incontinence related to nerve damage from conditions such as multiple sclerosis and spine injury. Botox is being studied to determine if it might be useful in treating conditions such as knee and hip osteoarthritis, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).


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Other things to know about Botox treatments: Some providers charge a consultation fee, which is waived if you choose to proceed with the injections but charged if you decline. Also, who is doing the injection? Make sure it’s a trained, certified professional. As in many other things, training and credentials are important. In some practices, a junior employee may perform the procedure for a lesser rate. Make sure that’s what you want.

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.

Results can vary depending on who is performing the injection on the patient. It is very important to go to a physician who is experienced at this procedure, does it him- or herself (rather than having a nurse, physician's assistant [PA], or other nonphysician do it), and has a good reputation for performing this type of procedure. The manufacturers of Botox recommend physicians inject the medication themselves. As with most procedures, the skill of the practitioner is related to how often he or she performs the procedure.

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A double-blind, placebo-controlled study enrolled patients who had extended histories of receiving and tolerating BOTOX injections, with prior individualized adjustment of dose. The mean BOTOX dose administered to patients in this study was 236 Units (25th to 75th percentile range of 198 Units to 300 Units). The BOTOX dose was divided among the affected muscles [see Clinical Studies].
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.”
If you think either of the FDA-approved anti-CGRP treatments might be right for you, speak with your primary health care provider, neurologist or headache specialist. If your medical provider isn’t aware of the treatments, don’t be afraid to let him or her know about them, or ask for a referral to a local neurologist or headache specialist. This is just the first step in advocating for the care that you deserve. To find a headache specialist in your area, consult our Find a Doctor tool. Dr. Starling believes that every person with migraine should be involved in advocacy, in order to bring awareness to the disease and break the stigma that surrounds it. She recommends that patients living with migraine get involved in advocacy organizations, such as our Move Against Migraine support community. You can also attend the annual Headache on the Hill event in which patients and providers go to Capitol Hill asking for more National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding for migraine and other headache disorders. The next Headache on the Hill event is planned for February 11-12, 2019. Within the coming weeks, the American Migraine Foundation will be compiling a guide to all three anti-CGRP treatments. For additional information on anti-CGRP migraine treatment options, consult our doctor-verified resource library.

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.”

When you choose BOTOX® Cosmetic, you can trust in its established track record. Backed by over 15 years of clinical studies, BOTOX® Cosmetic is the most widely researched and studied treatment of its kind, approved for use in 96 countries. The safety and efficacy of BOTOX® Cosmetic has been described in more than 495 peer-reviewed articles in scientific and medical journals.
Both Aetna and HealthPartners tell The Verge in an email that they don’t require patients to try verapamil specifically. “Verapamil is just one of many options available to treat migraines. Some are FDA-approved, others are not,” says Becca Johnson, a spokesperson for HealthPartners. Patients are required to try other oral medications because they’re either cheaper or not as invasive as getting Botox injections. “The rationale is that these medications are generally effective and safe,” says Ethan Slavin, a spokesperson for Aetna.

As anyone who’s tried Botox for Migraine (or wrinkle reduction) will tell you, your forehead feels heavier after the injections are done, where the nerve endings are in essence frozen. As in ‘Frozen Face.’  Little to no movement, depending on how many units you receive and where they are injected. In my case, my usually expressive face didn’t track with my emotions: no raised eyebrows of surprise or delight or shock.
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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.”
Botox prevents migraine headaches before they start, but takes time to work. “I look to the second and third treatments to maximize effects,” says Dr. Andrew Blumenfeld. “Patients see increasing benefit with an increase in the number of treatment cycles.” One treatment lasts for 10-12 weeks, and patients reported that two Botox treatments reduced the number of headache days by approximately 50%.

"In the majority of these cases, it's the doctors at the front line who start using Botox off-label, and then we see the treatment of things we never expected the toxin to work for," says Min Dong, a researcher at Harvard Medical School who studies botulinum toxins in the lab and has no financial ties to Allergan. "I meet with physicians who are using the toxin everywhere--for diseases you would never know about."

Jump up ^ Mangera A, Andersson KE, Apostolidis A, Chapple C, Dasgupta P, Giannantoni A, Gravas S, Madersbacher S (October 2011). "Contemporary management of lower urinary tract disease with botulinum toxin A: a systematic review of botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) and dysport (abobotulinumtoxinA)". European Urology. 60 (4): 784–95. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2011.07.001. PMID 21782318.


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.
ONABOTULINUMTOXINA is a neuro-muscular blocker. This medicine is used to treat crossed eyes, eyelid spasms, severe neck muscle spasms, ankle and toe muscle spasms, and elbow, wrist, and finger muscle spasms. It is also used to treat excessive underarm sweating, to prevent chronic migraine headaches, and to treat loss of bladder control due to neurologic conditions such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury. The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of Botox is around $602.89, 19% off the average retail price of $747.02. Compare acetylcholine release inhibitors.
Tell your doctor if you have 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 by injection; take muscle relaxants; take an allergy or cold medicine; take a sleep medicine; take aspirin-like products or blood thinners.
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