In just over a decade, the number of people in the U.S. receiving cosmetic botulinum toxin type A injections--mostly from Botox but also from another brand called Dysport, which commands less than 10% of the market--exploded. From 2000 to 2015, use of the toxins for wrinkles increased 759%. It became a cultural phenomenon too, spawning Botox parties, Simpsons jokes, even greeting cards. In 2008, Sex and the City character Samantha famously quipped, "I don't really believe in marriage. Now Botox, on the other hand, that works every time."
As with any drug, Allergan is legally required to make known Botox's most severe potential side effects, and in 2009 the FDA required Botox to bear a black-box warning--the strongest type of warning label given to any drug--cautioning that there was evidence the drug had been linked to serious side effects. With Botox, this includes effects spreading from the injection site to other parts of the body, causing muscle weakness, double vision and drooping eyelids.
Once the protein stops functioning at the neuromuscular junction, it is broken down into its harmless components (amino acids) and either recycled for use in other proteins or excreted by the kidneys. "The bigger the muscle, the quicker you'll see motion return," says Rowe. "Likewise, the smaller the muscle, the longer the effect of botox lasts." It doesn't have a tolerance effect, either—your body never gets used to Botox.
The Botox used for migraines and the Botox used for cosmetic procedures is actually exactly the same. "Basically, young and middle-aged women were getting [Botox] for cosmetic purposes, and that’s the most common person that has migraines, and that’s how they figured out it was helpful," Ravitz tells me. Women were getting Botox for aesthetic reasons and happened to notice relief from their migraine symptoms, and doctors began looking into it as a direct treatment. In fact, women are disproportionately affected by migraines — about 85 percent of chronic-migraine sufferers are women, and the condition affects 28 million in just the U.S.
In 1820, Justinus Kerner, a small-town German medical officer and romantic poet, gave the first complete description of clinical botulism based on extensive clinical observations of so-called “sausage poisoning”. Following experiments on animals and on himself, he concluded that the toxin acts by interrupting signal transmission in the somatic and autonomic motor systems, without affecting sensory signals or mental functions. He observed that the toxin develops under anaerobic conditions, and can be lethal in minute doses. His prescience in suggesting that the toxin might be used therapeutically earned him recognition as the pioneer of modern botulinum toxin therapy.
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.”
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.
Botox stays only where injected, it does not roam through the body. "If I inject it in your face, it's not going to work [or show up in] your toe," says Rowe. "It does not have a systemic effect." However, it may migrate up to 3 cm from where it was injected. But even if some molecules were to go into the bloodstream and travel to distant sites in the body, the cosmetic doses (typically less than 100 units) used are significantly lower than the toxic dose that would be harmful systemically (2,500-3,000 units).
The cosmetic benefits came to light in the 1990s by happy coincidence. “The aesthetic indications were purely happenstance,” says board-certified surgeon and clinical professor Seth L. Matarasso, MD, who has been treating his clients with Botox since the 1990s but is not affiliated with the brand. “Dr. [Jean] Carruthers was working with patients with strabismus...[and] with diplopia [double vision], and her patients were coming in and saying, ‘Gee, my wrinkles are better.'" Soon enough, doctors were using Botox for what it is most commonly associated with today — nixing lines.
Since Botox made its first appearance in the med-spa world, a number of similar treatments have also become available. These include Dysport, another Botulinum toxin type A injectable, as well as dermal fillers (which use hyaluronic acid to plump skin) such as Juvéderm, Restylane, and Perlane. The decision to choose between Botox vs Dysport depends largely on the results you're hoping to achieve. For more information, check out the following guides:
First of all, for those who aren't familiar with migraines, they're different from headaches. Headaches are unpleasant, too, but are typically less severe than migraines and don't usually present with other symptoms besides the pressure and aching in the head. Migraines, on the other hand, can be much more intense and often come with nausea, seeing spots, vomiting, extreme fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound, and more.
Dr. Engelman says preventative is legit. “Most certainly! I do micro-injections on patients who are just starting to show the finest expression lines in order to prevent them from ever making the wrinkle." NYC-based board-certified plastic surgeon Norman Rowe, MD, is also a fan. "While Botox has a fundamental use in treating wrinkles that are already formed, it has a role in the prophylactic, or prevention, of wrinkles. So, don't think that you don't need Botox because you don't have wrinkles. If you want to keep that smooth skin, start with Botox before they form."
Don’t be a pill. You're more likely to get a bruise at the site of the needle injection if you're taking aspirin or ibuprofen; these medications thin the blood and increase bleeding which causes the bruise. Skip the pills for two weeks in advance of your treatment. You should also tell your doctor -- before treatment -- about any supplements you're taking, even if they're "natural," because some (such as fish oil pills, gingko, or vitamin E) also thin blood. Your doctor may ask you not to use those supplements for two weeks before your treatment.
The bacterium can also be found in the intestinal tracts of mammals and fish and in the gills and organs of crabs and other shellfish. Such naturally occurring instances of Clostridium botulinum bacteria and spores are generally harmless. Problems only arise when the spores transform into vegetative cells and the cell population increases. At a certain point, the bacteria begin producing botulinum toxin, the deadly neurotoxin responsible for botulism.
"The cost for a procedure depends on two main factors," explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. "First, different products cost different amounts because of the technology that goes into their manufacturing. In addition, the cost depends on the fee of the injector. If you are seeing a sought-after, skilled injector, you may be paying a premium for that treatment. Especially when getting injectable fillers, your treatment is dependent on the skill and aesthetic of your injector. I do not recommend compromising here or purchasing a deal on websites like Groupon."
Dr. Matarasso says hardly a week goes by when he doesn’t see a patient with a botched Botox job. Why? People are getting it done by unexperienced, often unlicensed, practitioners who don’t know the shape of the face and how to correctly administer the toxin. “I just had a patient come in the other day who went to an ER doctor, and one that went to a psychiatrist,” he says. “They [also] have these Botox parties and I have seen scarring, significant bruising, not only functional, but aesthetic complications.”
As a plastic surgeon, it will never be a major source of income for me, so I choose to make it easy and affordable. We charge $13 per Botox unit. Having said that, though, we have a monthly day of beauty when Botox, facials, and peels are discounted - in the case of Botox, usually to $10 per unit. Currently, because we are welcoming a Nurse Practitioner to our Aesthetic Surgery Center, we are even offering Botox for $7 per unit!
Botulinum toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum is the cause of botulism. Humans most commonly ingest the toxin from eating improperly-canned foods in which C. botulinum has grown. However, the toxin can also be introduced through an infected wound. In infants, the bacteria can sometimes grow in the intestines and produce botulinum toxin within the intestine and can cause a condition known as floppy baby syndrome. In all cases, the toxin can then spread, blocking nerves and muscle function. In severe cases, the toxin can block nerves controlling the respiratory system or heart, resulting in death. Botulism can be difficult to diagnose, as it may appear similar to diseases such as Guillain–Barré syndrome, myasthenia gravis, and stroke. Other tests, such as brain scan and spinal fluid examination, may help to rule out other causes. If the symptoms of botulism are diagnosed early, various treatments can be administered. In an effort to remove contaminated food which remains in the gut, enemas or induced vomiting may be used. For wound infections, infected material may be removed surgically. Botulinum antitoxin is available and may be used to prevent the worsening of symptoms, though it will not reverse existing nerve damage. In severe cases, mechanical respiration may be used to support patients suffering from respiratory failure. The nerve damage heals over time, generally over weeks to months. With proper treatment, the case fatality rate for botulinum poisoning can be greatly reduced.
BOTOX® treats the symptoms of severe underarm sweating when topical medicines do not work well enough in people 18 years and older. It is not known whether BOTOX® is safe or effective for severe sweating anywhere other than your armpits. BOTOX® treatments temporarily block the chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands, resulting in reduced sweating.