The FDA now requires black box labeling on Botox and similar products such as Dysport and Xeomin to warn of rare but potentially life-threatening swallowing and breathing complications if the toxin spreads beyond the injection site. None of these complications have occurred in people using Botox for cosmetic reasons and the FDA states that cosmetic use of Botox appears to be safe.

I don’t know what’s harder, being a mom or living with migraine. Having both can be overwhelming. Over the years, as a stay-at-home mom of two and chronic migraine fighter, I have learned to adapt my life and my children’s lives to migraine. I alter my family’s schedule around my children’s naps, meals and moods, while also keeping in mind my migraine attacks, sensitivities, triggers and abilities.

Botox is a brand name of a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are other brand names for botulinum, such as Xeomin. In large amounts, this toxin can cause botulism, which you probably associate with food poisoning. Despite the fact that one of the most serious complications of botulism is paralysis, scientists have discovered a way to use it to human advantage. Small, diluted amounts can be directly injected into specific muscles causing controlled weakening of the muscles.


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Other adverse reactions that occurred more frequently in the BOTOX group compared to the placebo group at a frequency less th an 1% and potentially BOTOX related include: vertigo, dry eye, eyelid edema, dysphagia, eye infection, and jaw pain. Severe worsening of migraine requiring hospitalization occurred in approximately 1% of BOTOX treated patients in Study 1 and Study 2, usually within the first week after treatment, compared to 0.3% of placebo-treated patients.
Botox comes as a crystalline substance from the manufacturer, which then has to be reconstituted with saline or another liquid. Practitioners add varying amounts of liquid when reconstituting it. Although there is no right or wrong amount of liquid to add, most physicians add about 2 mL-3 mL (about a half a teaspoon) of liquid to each vial. Some add quite a bit more, which can lead patients to think they are getting more Botox when, in reality, they are getting the same or less amount of Botox than samples reconstituted in a stronger way. It is the total dose of medication, not the volume of liquid, that leads to the desired effect.
Sometimes, because of these policies, patients are put on meds that are not approved by the FDA for the treatment of migraines, like the antidepressant amitriptyline and the high blood pressure drug verapamil. “In my experience, [verapamil is] not very effective,” says Elizabeth Loder, chief of the headache division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the former president of the American Headache Society. For the insurance companies, that doesn’t seem to matter. “It’s frustrating to patients, especially when it seems like some of the treatments that they’re required to try have a lot of side effects and haven’t really been tested that carefully for migraines.”
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).
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