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.
Botox often gets a bad rep for leaving patients looking a little frozen, but that's the fault of bad technique, not necessarily the procedure itself, explains Day. "In many places where it's not a trained aesthetic physician doing the injection, it's really just inject by number," she says. The problem with this is that no two faces, or even two sides of a face, are the same. "That cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all approach is what often gives these treatments a bad name," says Day.
Much like other fillers, Botox is slowly metabolized in the system, so for it to remain effective, patients have to get the procedure every three months or so (however, as Ravitz told me during a recent visit, you can't get it done too frequently or your body will develop antibodies). I've now had four additional rounds of Botox since my initial procedure and have learned a lot about how my body reacts to it. Read on for both Ravitz's insight and information about my experience with five rounds of Botox.
With the outbreak of World War II, weaponization of botulinum toxin was investigated at Fort Detrick in Maryland. Carl Lamanna and James Duff developed the concentration and crystallization techniques that Edward J. Schantz used to create the first clinical product. When the Army’s Chemical Corps was disbanded, Schantz moved to the Food Research Institute in Wisconsin, where he manufactured toxin for experimental use and generously provided it to the academic community.
BOTOX is indicated for the treatment of upper limb spasticity in adult patients, to decrease the severity of increased muscle tone in elbow flexors (biceps), wrist flexors (flexor carpi radialis and flexor carpi ulnaris) , finger flexors (flexor digitorum profundus and flexor digitorum sublimis), and thumb flexors (adductor pollicis and flexor pollicis longus).
As you noted in your question, the effects of Botox don't last forever. For some patients the short term effects of Botox are a ‘good thing,’ as it means that trying Botox is a relatively low risk/low commitment procedure. If you don't like your Botox results, there's not much to worry about: They will fade on their own in a few months. Generally speaking, the results last between three to five months -- but the duration of the Botox effect depends on the individual and on how many Botox units were used.
Receiving Botox injections for migraines is a straightforward outpatient procedure. The skin in the area to be injected is cleaned. Most injections are administered in the forehead area, usually above the eyes or where “worry lines” might occur. Because this area may be sensitive or patients may be experiencing hypersensitivity to pain, a topical anesthetic may be applied before the injection.
Alternatively, bruising could occur, though is less likely, says Rowe, especially in the hands of an experienced doctor. While he says it's "dumb luck" whether or not one bruises from an injection, he also notes that good technique helps reduce the chances. Sobel says that "if you inject [the needle with Botox] too deep, very often you can hit a blood vessel and bruise." What you do after the injection can also make a difference: Take care not to rub or massage the treated areas, as this can cause the toxin to migrate.
They affect 39 million folks in the U.S., 4 million of whom deal with daily pain. Chronic migraines can severely inhibit daily life, and when I started to feel like my bad days were outnumbering my good, I knew I needed to find a solution. Botox had been suggested to me multiple times before by friends, family, and doctors, and though it took quite a while to get it approved by insurance and find a provider I trusted, my migraines were making it hard to live a normal life, so I decided to try it out.
After working out techniques for freeze-drying, buffering with albumin, and assuring sterility, potency, and safety, Scott applied to the FDA for investigational drug use, and began manufacturing botulinum type A neurotoxin in his San Francisco lab. He injected the first strabismus patients in 1977, reported its clinical utility in 1980, and had soon trained hundreds of ophthalmologists in EMG-guided injection of the drug he named Oculinum ("eye aligner").
Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, including if you: have or have had bleeding problems; have plans to have surgery; had surgery on your face; weakness of forehead muscles; trouble raising your eyebrows; drooping eyelids; any other abnormal facial change; are pregnant or plan to become pregnant (it is not known if BOTOX® can harm your unborn baby); are breastfeeding or plan to (it is not known if BOTOX® passes into breast milk).
According to the PREEMPT injection paradigm, a total of 5 units of onabotulinumtoxinA is injected into each corrugator muscle. To confirm the location of the muscle, the patient is asked to furrow the brow in order to activate the corrugator. Once the muscle has been located, the muscle should be palpated and pinched by holding it between the thumb and index finger. Five units of onabotulinumtoxinA is injected at an approximate 90° angle with the bevel of the needle pointing upward into the medial belly of the muscle. As the needle is inserted, there is skin resistance, which lessens when the muscle is penetrated. This decrease in resistance is termed a muscle pop. Once the muscle pop occurs, inject into the superficial muscle. If the injection is too far superior or above the corrugator muscle, brow ptosis can occur due to depression of the medial brow as the frontalis elevating function is lost and the corrugator depressing function remains unopposed. Whereas weakening the corrugator muscle will cause elevation of the medial eyebrow, alternatively, if the corrugator injection is done too low, then diffusion to the levator palpebral muscle could lead to lid ptosis.
Sedation is not often used because the injection time is so short. A local numbing cream (anesthetic) is used instead. Young children often behave as if no numbing cream was used. This may be due to not fully understanding what is being done and having a fear of "shots." In these cases, gentle holding (restraint) is done to keep the area of the shot still. Two staff members sometimes give the injections at the same time to decrease the time of the session.
Results will be evident within three to 10 days. Photographs may be taken before the procedure so that patients can check their results themselves rather than relying on their memory. It is surprising to see how many people do not recall how they looked before the procedure and are amazed at the difference when shown a picture. Prior to having the procedure done, the patient should realize that Botox does not actually erase lines but relaxes them. What this means is that deeper lines will become somewhat less deep and superficial lines will nearly disappear. This can be likened to the act of steaming a garment's wrinkles rather than ironing them.
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.”
This product contains albumin, a derivative of human blood. Based on effective donor screening and product manufacturing processes, it carries an extremely remote risk for transmission of viral diseases and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). There is a theoretical risk for transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), but if that risk actually exists, the risk of transmission would also be considered extremely remote. No cases of transmission of viral diseases, CJD, or vCJD have ever been identified for licensed albumin or albumin contained in other licensed products.
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.”
Most practices have a flat cost for each injection of BOTOX® Cosmetic, though some will break it down by “units” used per treatment. Flat rates are usually somewhere between $300 and $1000, while per-unit rates are usually around $10-15 per unit. Though the BOTOX® Cosmetic price paid by physicians is normally about $400 for each vial (each vial contains 100 units, or enough for about 4 or 5 treatments), the vial must be used within a few hours of opening, so if the entire vial is not used, the physician will often have to throw the rest out.
Ray Chester, an attorney in Austin who has represented several plaintiffs in lawsuits against Allergan, says that just about all the cases he has handled involved off-label use of the drug. In 2014 a New York couple argued that Botox, which they chose to try off-label to treat their son's cerebral-palsy symptoms, caused life-threatening complications. The family was awarded $6.75 million by a jury. Allergan, which initially planned to appeal, ended up privately settling the case with the family, and the terms of the settlement have been kept confidential.
In my experience, this, like all other treatments we use in medicine, doesn’t benefit every patient. I find that it helps a majority of appropriate patients, that is, those patients with a diagnosis of chronic migraine who have failed not just abortive but also preventative migraine treatments. Is there sufficient benefit, however, to outweigh the cost and pain of this treatment? In the case of most of my patients, the answer is yes.
Injection description is very important. It is best to describe the injections as a pinch rather than a bee sting, and to explain that the injections are shallow, with only a half-inch needle. As a result of the superficial technique used with the injections, deep anticoagulation can be continued. The procedure is short, and talking to the patient during the procedure about something other than the injections can help alleviate the patient’s anxiety. It is important to describe onabotulinumtoxinA as a purified protein rather than a toxin or a poison. In addition, stating that it relaxes muscles rather than causing paralysis will be reassuring to the patient. In a very anxious patient, the areas to be injected can be iced first or a local anesthetic cream can be applied. Starting with the trapezius muscle can also help, as these injections are the least painful, and the patient cannot see the needle. Finally, it is important to make sure the injections are performed with a sharp needle, and blunt needles are discarded. Thirty-gauge needles only remain sharp for six to eight needle sticks each.
When most people see the results of Botox, they are extremely pleased. Botox’s ability to iron out wrinkles is pretty impressive. The fine lines and wrinkles that were all you could see in the mirror appear much less severe and the overall appearance is refreshed and more relaxed and rejuvenated. Botox results typically last up to six months. Botox also acts as a preventative measure for wrinkles, as it prevents repetitive folding of the skin that come from the frequency of making expressions. By injecting Botox before wrinkles even form, you’re setting the stage for a younger look for years to come.
Most insurance providers now recognize BOTOX as treatment for migraines. Some have specific criteria that patients must meet, or require documentation that you have gone through other treatment protocols before trying BOTOX. It can take several weeks to receive authorization to begin treatment. Check with your insurance provider to make sure you fulfill their requirements, and to begin the approval process.
It's safe to say that the mouth is the clearest giveaway of work done too early. Youthful lips tend to have substantial volume and turn up naturally at the corners, meaning the best strategy for flattering them often comes down to a good signature lip color. For women who remain self conscious about the size or symmetry of their lips—think a slightly lopsided appearance, for instance—Botox can be injected into the orbicularis oris muscle along the lip line as an alternative to lip fillers. "When certain individuals smile, the lip flips in and they lose that upper volume," says Dara Liotta, a New York City-based plastic and cosmetic surgeon. "This relaxes the outer layers of the circular muscle around the lips and looks much more natural than filler." Additionally, injections along the jawline—or more specifically, the masseter muscle—have risen in popularity to relieve stress-induced jaw clenching and have also been known to refine the area. "A lot of people hold tension in the jaw area and when you relax that muscle, the chin comes out of the shadow of your lower lip,” explains Liotta. But the best advice of all? Forget about those self-perceived imperfections and smile. You're only in your '20s once.
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.
After Hoffman’s husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 55, his health insurance decided to stop paying for the drug he had taken successfully unless he tried cheaper alternatives. She appealed on behalf of her husband and was eventually able to get approval for the drug, which would have cost them $8,000 a year otherwise. “I felt terrible and I had to fight and it took a long time,” Hoffman tells The Verge. “It caused a lot of anxiety and a lot of these patients don’t have a law professor wife to fight for them.”
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.”
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.
Do not receive BOTOX® Cosmetic if you: are allergic to any of the ingredients in BOTOX® Cosmetic (see Medication Guide for ingredients); had an allergic reaction to any other botulinum toxin product such as Myobloc® (rimabotulinumtoxinB), Dysport® (abobotulinumtoxinA), or Xeomin® (incobotulinumtoxinA); have a skin infection at the planned injection site.