"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."
In just over a decade, the number of people in the U.S. receiving cosmetic botulinum toxin type A injections--mostly from Botox but also from another brand called Dysport, which commands less than 10% of the market--exploded. From 2000 to 2015, use of the toxins for wrinkles increased 759%. It became a cultural phenomenon too, spawning Botox parties, Simpsons jokes, even greeting cards. In 2008, Sex and the City character Samantha famously quipped, "I don't really believe in marriage. Now Botox, on the other hand, that works every time."
I was lucky. My health insurance only required me to try and fail two other less expensive migraine medications, and it didn’t dictate how long I had to try them for before giving up. Other insurers have stricter rules: Aetna, for example, requires patients to try at least three medications for at least two months each. HealthPartners also requires patients to try and fail three medications, such as beta blockers and antidepressants, without specifying for how long. (Requirements may vary by state and policy.) Because these migraine drugs are designed to treat other conditions like high blood pressure and depression, they can have serious side effects like weight gain, fatigue, and difficulty in thinking and speaking clearly.
In some practices, the cost of the actual product determines the price, but in others, "The cost of the treatment is based on the skill set, not the product," says Day. In other words, seeing a trained aesthetic physician, who has the time and technique to give you tailored, micro injections, might actually be more costly than larger, more formulaic doses.
The trapezius muscle is a large, triangular, superficial muscle. It attaches proximally in the medial third of the superior nuchal line, external occipital protuberance, nuchal ligament, and spinous processes of the C7-T12 vertebrae. Distal attachment of the trapezius occurs at the lateral third of the clavicle and acromion and spine of the scapula. The action of the muscle includes neck extension and stabilization of the scapula and support for the arm. The muscle fibers proximal to the inflection point of the neck (ie, necklace line) run vertically and are involved with neck extension. According to the PREEMPT injection paradigm, one injection of 5 units of onabotulinumtoxinA to each of three sites on either side of the trapezius, for a total of 30 units divided across six sites, is given. The first injection site can be identified by visually dividing the upper portion of the trapezius muscle in half, from the inflection point of the neck (ie the necklace line) to the acromion (acromio-clavicular joint); the midpoint of this location is where the injection should be administered. The second injection is located at the midpoint of the first injection site and the acromion. The third injection should be administered at the midpoint between the first injection site and the necklace line. Injections should occur in the supraclavicular portion of the muscle, lateral to the neckline, and medial to the deltoid and the acromio-clavicular joint. The injections into the trapezius should be administered horizontally and superficially to avoid injecting too deep.
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%.
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.
Injections: They're a popular topic and yet still shrouded in mystery and a veritable amount of secrecy. Most of us venture to a consultation or decide against them without actually knowing much information—how much they cost, what to expect during an appointment, or what the results will be. Because we're not willing to openly and freely discuss it (or have been taught not to), more often than not these conversations occur through a series of unanswered questions. Like sexual education, relying on abstinence is never going to be enough. We want to feel confident, look good, and make our own choices, and as such, that often leads to investing in modern skincare techniques.
Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, including: plans to have surgery; had surgery on your face; have trouble raising your eyebrows; drooping eyelids; any other abnormal facial change; are pregnant or plan to become pregnant (it is not known if BOTOX® Cosmetic can harm your unborn baby); are breast-feeding or plan to (it is not known if BOTOX® Cosmetic passes into breast milk).