Botox is a neurotoxin derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Ingested in contaminated food, it can interfere with key muscles in the body, causing paralysis and even death. But when injected in tiny doses into targeted areas, it can block signals between nerves and muscles, causing the muscles to relax. That's how it smooths wrinkles: when you immobilize the muscles that surround fine lines, those lines are less likely to move--making them less noticeable. It's also why it's FDA-approved to treat an overactive bladder: Botox can prevent involuntary muscle contractions that can cause people to feel like they have to pee even when they don't.
Though botulinum toxin is available under different names, Botox is the only one that is FDA-approved for migraine prevention. To be considered for Botox, patients must have migraines 15 days or more per month, which is considered chronic daily migraine. About 4 million Americans have such migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Also, patients must have tried and failed on at least 2 other medications first.
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).
After the injections, the patient will usually lay upright or semiupright on the exam table for about two to five minutes to make sure he or she feels good after the procedure, and then the patient should avoid lying down for two to four hours. If bruising is a concern, it will be important for the patient to avoid taking aspirin or related products, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), if possible after the procedure to keep bruising to a minimum.
Even if Botox's mechanism isn't always well understood and some of its off-label uses are still unproven, interest in the drug isn't likely to wane. "Botox is a big cash cow for the physicians' practices," says Ronny Gal, an investment analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein who has watched the drug closely for more than a decade. "When I talk to physicians, they say, 'Botox is not a problem. It works and gives you the result you want.' If it works for depression and atrial fibrillation, it could be massive."
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Younger patients have been increasingly hopping on the Botox bandwagon as a preventative measure—even before the wrinkles appear or deepen. That’s why dermatologists can’t recommend the best age to start or try Botox, since it depends on your goals, your facial expressions, and your preference. If all you see when you look at a photo of yourself is that forehead wrinkle instead of your bright eyes or smile, it might make you happier to get the wrinkle taken care of. “Each time we raise our eyebrows, or scowl by bringing our eyebrows together, the wrinkles in these locations get deeper and more numerous. It happens slowly over a long period of time, so you don’t notice it on a daily basis,” Dr. Tutela says. “But if you look at the horizontal wrinkles in your forehead when you are not raising your eyebrows, you will see an increase in these wrinkles when you do raise your brows. If you then hold that raised brow position for 10 seconds, you will notice when you relax, your forehead wrinkles look deeper and more numerous. Botox prevents this from happening.” It’s almost never too early to start a good anti-aging regimen. Learn the most in-demand cosmetic treatments across the US.
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.
BOTOX® treats the symptoms of severe underarm sweating when topical medicines do not work well enough in people 18 years and older. It is not known whether BOTOX® is safe or effective for severe sweating anywhere other than your armpits. BOTOX® treatments temporarily block the chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands, resulting in reduced sweating.
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