In cosmetic applications, botulinum toxin is considered safe and effective for reduction of facial wrinkles, especially in the uppermost third of the face. Injection of botulinum toxin into the muscles under facial wrinkles causes relaxation of those muscles, resulting in the smoothing of the overlying skin. Smoothing of wrinkles is usually visible three days after treatment and is maximally visible two weeks following injection. The treated muscles gradually regain function, and generally return to their former appearance three to four months after treatment. Muscles can be treated repeatedly to maintain the smoothed appearance.
The migraines started later in life, before my lupus diagnosis. While sometimes they’d come out of the blue or I’d wake up with them, other times I’d see them coming. From a neurologist’s suggestion, I learned some of my “triggers” such as weather changes (specifically, drops in barometric pressure and incoming storms), hormonal changes and dairy. This past year I significantly reduced my dairy intake and although that didn’t eliminate the migraines, if I did eat dairy, I was sure to get one. Many of my migraines would also start as tension headaches. My neck is always extremely tight and eventually the constant tightness causes a migraine. Due to this, my old rheumatologist suggested taking a muscle relaxer at the beginning of a headache or before bed to keep my muscles from tensing up overnight and preventing a migraine. It worked sometimes… but definitely not enough.
In the case of Botox, doctors who experiment off-label say they do so because they're looking for better treatment options for their patients. "In my 30 years of medical practice, Botox is one of the most impactful treatments I had ever seen," says Dr. Linda Brubaker, dean and chief diversity officer of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, who independently studied Botox for overactive bladder before the FDA approved it for that condition in 2013.
The best part of Botox is people saying that you look great, but they can’t put their finger as to why. When administered effectively, you’ll look like a brighter, smoother version of yourself, but not plastic-y. To prevent looking frozen, Dr. Tutela says to make sure your dermatologist or plastic surgeon tells you how many units they recommend. Everyone’s face is different and again, there is no magic number, but knowing your starting point will help tailor future appointments, he says. And don’t do anything until you learn the 13 things plastic surgeons will never tell you.
It may be necessary for the patient to have additional procedures, such as the use of filler substances (for example, Restylane, Perlane, Juvederm, Sculptra, or Radiesse) in order to plump up the wrinkles that are now relaxed. Additionally, it may be necessary to have two or three sessions of Botox treatment for deeper wrinkles before results become optimal. The area of the crease between the eyes is a particularly ideal area for Botox use in conjunction with filler as these fixed wrinkles don't always respond optimally to Botox alone. There is some controversy about using filler in that area as it may block veins or arteries and result in loss of blood and a scar to the area. Generally, the smaller particle fillers, such as Restylane or Juvederm Ultra, are best in the area between the eyes for this reason.
Spread of toxin effects. The effect of botulinum toxin may affect areas away from the injection site and cause serious symptoms including: loss of strength and all-over muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision and drooping eyelids, hoarseness or change or loss of voice, trouble saying words clearly, loss of bladder control, trouble breathing, and trouble swallowing.