The use of Botox for migraines was, like many other new applications for the drug, a kind of happy accident. A Beverly Hills plastic surgeon observed that people who got Botox for wrinkles were reporting fewer headaches, paving the way for studies about migraines. Similarly, doctors in Europe were intrigued when they noticed that their patients who got Botox for facial spasms were sweating less than usual.

The frontalis muscle attaches to the skin of the lower forehead and ascends to join the fronto-occipital aponeurosis. The action of the frontalis muscle involves elevation of the eyebrows to produce expressions such as surprise, and can cause deep transverse wrinkles on the forehead. The antagonists for brow depression are the corrugators, procerus, and orbicularis oculi muscles.


So when I first propositioned my husband about the idea of me getting a bit of Botox for the furrowed brow I've earned from a decade of writing and editing behind a computer screen, he was adamantly against it. And frankly, I was a bit scared too. I mean, isn't Botox poison? As an idealistic 21 year old, it was easy to say that I'd never put that stuff in my body, that "poison." Now, I'm not so sure.


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.

I increase the dose at each treatment cycle to 195 units. This is based on experience with patients with cervical dystonia, in whom higher doses result in a longer duration of effect. In addition, I transition to the next onabotulinumtoxinA treatment at 12 weeks by using occipital and trigeminal nerve blocks at 10 weeks. Most insurance companies will not cover onabotulinumtoxinA treatments earlier than 12 weeks, but in rare cases, 10-week cycles have been approved.
According to the PREEMPT injection paradigm, one injection of 5 units of onabotulinumtoxinA is administered to one site in the procerus muscle. The procerus injection site is approximately midway between the two corrugator injections. In order to confirm the location of the procerus muscle, the patient is asked to furrow the brow, which will activate the belly of the muscle causing the medial furrowing to occur. Once identified, 5 units of onabotulinumtoxinA is injected superficially into the belly of the muscle at a 90° angle to ensure the injection is administered into the procerus rather than the frontalis. Injections placed too superiorly may inadvertently lead to penetration of the frontalis muscle.
Botox is best known for smoothing out wrinkles, but since 2010 it’s also been used to prevent migraines. (Scientists aren’t 100 percent sure why Botox works, though it may interfere with the transmission of pain signals to the brain.) Though the 36 injections I get every three months in my forehead, skull, neck, and shoulders are painful, they’ve been a game changer. I went from 16 to 18 migraines a month to about eight. The intensity of the pain has gone down, too. The results are so good that I find myself frustrated that I spent so many years in unnecessary misery.
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"We were very skeptical," says Edwin Chapman, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, after reading Caleo's study. But in August 2016, Chapman and his graduate student Ewa Bomba-Warczak published a study in the journal Cell Reports showing similar spreading effects in animal cells in the lab. For Chapman, it explained what he was hearing anecdotally from doctors: that Botox might be influencing the central nervous system and not just the area where it's being injected.
There has not been a confirmed serious case of spread of toxin effect away from the injection site when BOTOX® has been used at the recommended dose to treat chronic migraine, severe underarm sweating, blepharospasm, strabismus, or when BOTOX® Cosmetic has been used at the recommended dose to treat frown lines, crow’s feet lines, and/or forehead lines.
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