But today it's the medical uses of the drug that are the great moneymaker, in part because doctors are getting a better handle on how to use it. Botulinum toxin type A is one of seven neurotoxins produced from Clostridium botulinum. Contracting botulism is bad news: it can cause blurred vision, persistent trouble swallowing and worse. In one recent case, close to 30 people were hospitalized in Ohio in 2015 after attending a church potluck. One person died. The outbreak was ultimately attributed to a potato salad made from improperly home-canned potatoes that were harboring the bacteria. Given its level of toxicity, some countries have even explored its potential use as a bioweapon.
In double-blind, placebo-controlled chronic migraine efficacy trials (Study 1 and Study 2), the discontinuation rate was 12% in the BOTOX treated group and 10% in the placebo-treated group. Discontinuations due to an adverse event were 4% in the BOTOX group and 1% in the placebo group. The most frequent adverse events leading to discontinuation in the BOTOX group were neck pain, headache, worsening migraine, muscular weakness and eyelid ptosis.
"I have treated people with profound migraine headaches and it turns them right off," says Dr. Matarasso. "If you feel it coming on, it stops it, reducing the severity as well as the duration. I had a patient [who was] in college who had unremitting migraine headaches. She changed her diet, she changed her birth-control pill, she had acupuncture. I finally said to the mother, 'We need to try Botox,' and it has been a complete life-changing event for this woman."
But it could be something else altogether. In 2008, Matteo Caleo, a researcher at the Italian National Research Council's Institute of Neuroscience in Pisa, published a controversial study showing that when he injected the muscles of rats with Botox, he found evidence of the drug in the brain stem. He also injected Botox into one side of the brain in mice and found that it spread to the opposite side. That suggested the toxin could access the nervous system and the brain.
In the first study, researchers examined a sample of healthy subjects and patients with a diagnosis of migraine -any frequency-, and analysed the presence of trigger points and their location, many of the explorations resulting in a migraine crisis. The most interesting findings of this study were: 95% of migraine sufferers have trigger points, while only 25% of healty subjects have them. The most common locations of trigger points are the anterior temporal and the suboccipital region, both billateral, of the head. Furthermore, researchers found a positive correlation among the number of trigger points in a patient, the number of monthly crises and the duration in years of the condition.
Galli has been living with migraine for most of her adult life, but recently, her attacks became more severe and frequent. “My whole life went upside down and nothing was the same,” Galli says, upon being diagnosed with chronic migraine. “The person I used to be wasn't there anymore. I didn't even recognize myself.” To cope with the symptoms that often accompany chronic migraine, Galli found herself retreating to a dark room, waiting for the pain to pass, but it never did. In response, Galli says, she asked herself what she could do to feel better but also share her story. “Everyone around me that knew how high energy, and how much of a go-getter I am, asked what was happening? Where was that person?” When she came across the announcement of the Migraine Moment Film Contest, she saw it as her opportunity to bring awareness about what it is like to live with migraine and bust the misconceptions surrounding this invisible disease. Enter: “Invisible Hero.”
Many people who experience excessive sweating, whether on their hands, hairline, or even under their breasts or butt, are turning to Botox and other neuromodulators (like Xeomin or Dysport). "They help prevent excessive sweating by acting on the sweat glands directly," says NYC board-certified plastic surgeon Z. Paul Lorenc, MD. "The neuromodulator is injected into the sweat glands to relax the muscle and help combat excessive sweating."
Beware of Botox injections at a "Botox party" at someone's house. You need to be in a medical setting, where any side effects can be treated immediately. You may not see the final effects of the injections during the party anyway, as they usually take a few days. A Botox party isn't such a bad idea if it's held by a doctor in a medical setting, but even then there's a risk of the doctor's attention being divided between you and the other attendees.
Micropigmentation, or permanent makeup, is a procedure in which iron oxide pigment is injected into the dermis. This procedure can improve the appearance of thin eyebrows and lips and may be beneficial for those with makeup allergies. Swelling is common after the procedure. The patient may be instructed to apply ice and/or ointment to the treated area.
But for some conditions, step therapy can be downright harmful. In a 2016 op-ed in The Boston Globe, a patient with ulcerative colitis wrote that his health insurance forced him to try a cheaper treatment for six months, instead of the pricier meds his doctor wanted to prescribe. In those six months, his colon deteriorated so badly it had to be removed.
It is not known whether BOTOX® is safe or effective to treat increased stiffness in upper limb muscles other than those in the elbow, wrist, fingers, and thumb, or in lower limb muscles other than those in the ankle and toes. BOTOX® has not been shown to help people perform task-specific functions with upper limbs or increase movement in joints that are permanently fixed in position by stiff muscles. BOTOX® is not meant to replace existing physical therapy or other rehabilitation that may have been prescribed.