Botox for migraines has been something that has flown under the radar, as many people know Botox as a procedure simply aimed at hiding fine lines. We turned to Matthew S. Robbins, MD, director of inpatient services at Montefiore Headache Center and the chief of neurology at the Jack D. Weiler Hospital, Montefiore, to break down the procedure for us. Scroll down to see what he has to say.

Botox (also known as Vistabel outside the U.S. and the U.K.) is an injection that temporarily relaxes facial muscles to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as prevent new lines from forming. Common injection sites include the forehead, the area between the eyebrows, the corners of the eyes, and the sides of the chin. Botox can also be used for a wide variety of other conditions, including migraines, excessive sweating, and psoriasis. LEARN MORE ›

Contrary to popular belief, the bacteria that causes botulism, clostridium botulinum, is not part of the treatment, nor are six of the seven neurotoxins it secretes. The only substance used in Botox injections, botulinum toxin A, is carefully extracted, purified, and standardized into FDA-approved doses. Plus, the dosage is so small, it can't get beyond the muscle tissue it's injected into, meaning there's little if any chance for Botox to reach the bloodstream.


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.

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.

Above all, I try to be gentle with myself and my children. It’s easier said than done.  Mom guilt and migraine guilt weigh heavy on my heart, and I continue to remind myself that I’m doing my best. I give myself a break as I do with my children when they’re having a bad day. I’m patient with them and try to give myself the same respect.  As a mom, it seems like my job is never done and that I can always do better. The reality is, no one is perfect, and we all have our flaws. We don’t expect our children to be perfect, and we should not expect ourselves to be. We do what we can when we can and take each day as it comes. I find joy in the smallest things and find that being grateful and mindful remind me off all the blessings I have, despite my unpredictable and chronic migraine attacks.
"Neurotoxins and facial fillers are my most popular injectable treatments," notes Zeichner. "Neurotoxins like Botox and Dysport relax muscles under the skin that can lead to folding and lines, specifically frown lines between the eyebrows. Facial fillers are my favorite cosmetic procedure in the office—there's really an art to it. I exclusively use hyaluronic acid fillers because they are safe and long-lasting."
Yes. The number of men receiving cosmetic treatments overall has risen by 325% over the last 20 years. And the number of men specifically choosing treatments like BOTOX® Cosmetic has also risen fast– in the past three years alone, men have received over one million botulinum toxin treatments. When surveyed, the majority of men say they want to look good and they’re bothered by the changes they see in the mirror. 80% would choose to treat their crow’s feet first, while 74% would prioritize their forehead lines, and 60% would most like to treat their frown lines.†
When pregnant rats received single intramuscular injections (1, 4, or 16 Units/kg) at three different periods of development (prior to implantation, implantation, or organogenesis), no adverse effects on fetal develop ment were observed. The developmental no-effect level for a single maternal dose in rats (16 Units/kg) is approximately 2 times the human dose of 400 Units, based on Units/k g.
But even if the laws remain unchanged, as long as off-label uses are permitted by law, expect doctors to keep pushing the boundaries of Botox's applications--sometimes in the name of medical progress and sometimes with remarkable results.Norman Rosenthal, the Maryland psychiatrist who recommended Botox for his suicidal patient, says he's seen the upside firsthand. The patient, persuaded by Rosenthal, did indeed get Botox shots on his forehead and between his brows. Days later, Rosenthal got an email from the patient. It was a thank-you note. Finally, the patient wrote, he was feeling better.

Twenty two adult patients, enrolled in double-blind placebo controlled studies, received 400 Units or higher of BOTOX for treatment of upper limb spasticity. In addition, 44 adults received 400 Units of BOTOX or higher for four consecutive treatments over approximately one year for treatment of upper limb spasticity. The type and frequency of ad verse reactions observed in patients treated with 400 Units of BOTOX were similar to those reported in patients treated for upper limb spasticity with 360 Units of BOTOX.
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Step therapy is largely unregulated both at the state and federal level, though individual states have started to pass legislation to limit step therapy and protect patients: 19 US states, including California, Mississippi, and Illinois, have laws that require insurance companies to grant certain exemptions or to review appeals from doctors within 72 hours so patients can get a waiver. But even then, getting a waiver isn’t always easy.
The median duration of response in study NDO-3, based on patient qualification for re-treatment was 362 days (52 weeks) for the BOTOX 100 Units dose group compared to 88 days (13 weeks) for placebo. To qualify for re-treatment, at least 12 weeks must have passed since the prior treatment, post-void residual urine volume must have been less than 200 mL and patients must have reported at least 2 urinary incontinence episodes over 3 days with no more than 1 incontinence -free day.

The initial listed doses of the reconstituted BOTOX [see Preparation And Dilution Technique] typically create paralysis of the injected muscles beginning one to two days after injection and increasing in intensity during the first week. The paralysis lasts for 2-6 weeks and gradually resolves over a similar time period. Overcorrections lasting over six months have been rare. About one half of patients will require subsequent doses because of inadequate paralytic response of the muscle to the initial dose, or because of mechanical factors such as large deviations or restrictions, or because of the lack of binocular motor fusion to stabilize the alignment .


Dubbed as the “little neurotoxin that could,” by USA Today, Botox now boasts sales of well over $1 billion for its manufacturer, Allergan. Many of us who start to see our migraine-furrowed forehead lines show up in our 30s think: hey, maybe Botox for migraine could help me too. But before you say “heck yes!” at the next Botox party or med-spa, be sure you know what you’re getting into.
Besides the three primary U.S. manufacturers, there are numerous other botulinum toxin producers. Xeomin, manufactured in Germany by Merz, is also available for both therapeutic and cosmetic use in the U.S.[67] Lanzhou Institute of Biological Products in China manufactures a BTX-A product; as of 2014 it was the only BTX-A approved in China.[67] BTX-A is also sold as Lantox and Prosigne on the global market.[68] Neuronox, a BTX-A product, was introduced by Medy-Tox Inc. of South Korea in 2009;[69]

Allergan Plc engages in the research, development, and manufacture of pharmaceutical products. The firm offers products under the following brands: BOTOX, Juvederm, Linzess, Namenda, Restasis, Latisse, Teflaro, Lo Loestrin Fe, Bystolic, DORYX, Saphris, Fetzima, Namenda XR, Namzaric, Viberzi, Viibryd, Alphagan, LUMIGAN, ESTRACE Cream, Rapaflo, Asacol, DELZICOL, Zenpep, Avycaz, and Dalvance. Its brand portfolio delivers treatments that address unmet medical needs in therapeutic categories such as dermatology and aesthetics;Read More
Food-borne botulism results, indirectly, from ingestion of food contaminated with Clostridium spores, where exposure to an anaerobic environment allows the spores to germinate, after which the bacteria can multiply and produce toxin.[citation needed] Critically, it is ingestion of toxin rather than spores or vegetative bacteria that causes botulism.[citation needed] Botulism is nevertheless known to be transmitted through canned foods not cooked correctly before canning or after can opening, and so is preventable.[citation needed] Infant botulism cases arise chiefly as a result of environmental exposure and are therefore more difficult to prevent.[citation needed] Infant botulism arising from consumption of honey can be prevented by eliminating honey from diets of children less than 12 months old.[71]

Hoffman’s husband’s experience is not unusual. Once a patient gets the more expensive prescription, health insurance providers can still try and push them back to cheaper drugs. Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Loder says that most health insurance companies stop paying for Botox if it’s not reducing a patient’s migraines by at least 50 percent. “It’s important to keep careful headache diaries and keep careful notes in order to be able to prove to the insurance company that the treatment is worth it,” Loder says. “You’re not home free once they approve it.”
Hoffman’s husband’s experience is not unusual. Once a patient gets the more expensive prescription, health insurance providers can still try and push them back to cheaper drugs. Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Loder says that most health insurance companies stop paying for Botox if it’s not reducing a patient’s migraines by at least 50 percent. “It’s important to keep careful headache diaries and keep careful notes in order to be able to prove to the insurance company that the treatment is worth it,” Loder says. “You’re not home free once they approve it.”
Prior to injection, reconstitute each vacuum-dried vial of BOTOX with only sterile, preservative-free 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection USP. Draw up the proper amount of diluent in the appropriate size syringe (see Table 1, or for specific instructions for detr usor overactivity associated with a neurologic condition see Section 2.3), and slowly inject the diluent into the vial. Discard the vial if a vacuum does not pull the diluent into the vial. Gently mix BOTOX with the saline by rotating the vial. Record the date and time of reconstitution on the space on the label. BOTOX should be administered within 24 hours after reconstitution. During this time period, reconstituted BOTOX should be stored in a refrigerator (2° to 8°C).

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.
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