It's also not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for depression, not that that stops doctors from prescribing it that way. Such off-label use of Botox, like that of any FDA-approved drug, is legal in the U.S. That's because once a drug has been approved by the FDA for a condition, licensed physicians are legally allowed to prescribe it for any medical issue they think it could benefit, regardless of whether it's been proved to work for that condition.
Therefore, it is important to remember that if a clinic or medical spa states that they are providing Botox at a certain dollar amount per unit, it is quite possible that they are diluting the Botox and actually not providing the agreed-upon amount. This is much like the concept of a watered-down drink at a bar, but the costs are much larger when it comes to Botox or its alternatives, Dysport and Xeomin.
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.
Some doctors and dermatologists recommend lying down and resting after a treatment, but Ravitz says she doesn't think there's any need for downtime unless a patient experiences pain. It can take about two weeks to work, though some patients start to feel relief from chronic migraines sooner than that. Ravitz tells me, "If it’s going to work for a patient, one round of the treatment typically lasts for around three months." Though everybody metabolizes it at a different rate, getting it done every three months or so has been found to be effective.
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If going back for additional treatments three or four times a year sounds like a lot of treatments, the good news is that the more Botox treatments you get, the fewer Botox units you'll need. With each repeat Botox session, the frontalis muscle and other facial muscles surrounding Botox injection sites get a little weaker and become "trained" to not contract.
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.
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.