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.
This medication can spread to other parts of the body after your injection, causing serious (possibly fatal) side effects. These can occur hours or even weeks after the injection. However, the chances of such serious side effects occurring when this medication is used for migraines or skin conditions such as wrinkles, eye spasm, or excessive sweating are extremely unlikely.
The patient is placed in a somewhat raised position on the exam table, and the areas to be injected are cleansed with a nonalcohol cleanser, such as Hibiclens or Betadine. Some physicians will apply a topical anesthetic, such as EMLA cream or some alternative, at this time. The Botox is then injected into the desired areas. Typical injection patterns include about four or five areas on each side of the forehead and two or three areas on either eye area. More areas can be injected by skilled physicians, depending on the type of wrinkles and the desired effect for the patient. It is common for pressure to be applied if an area seems to be bleeding after the injection. While ice is sometimes applied beforehand for comfort reasons, direct pressure is much more effective than ice for control of bleeding and bruising.
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.
The other method of calculating the cost of Botox is to pay by the area being treated. Doctors will specify the total cost for a designated region of the face -- for example, in the United States it should cost between $250 and $500 to treat horizontal forehead lines. However, it’s important to note that the forehead is treated as two seperate areas--the forehead lines that run horizontally across the forehead, and the frown lines that appear at the glabella. If you were to pay per area treated you would need to pay for two different areas. This method of pricing can sometimes mean you pay for more than what you need, especially if you don’t have deeply-etched wrinkles. At the same time, there’s an advantage to knowing how much the treatment will cost before you undergo the procedure, leaving no room for any unwelcome surprises.
The FDA approved such usage in the late 1980s when it was discovered that BOTOX® could stop ailments such as blepharospasm (uncontrolled blinking) and strabismus (lazy eye). Cosmetic physicians have been using BOTOX® for years to successfully treat wrinkles and facial creases. BOTOX® is approved for treatment of frown lines on the forehead, crow’s feet (lines around the eye), and axillary hyperhidrosis (increased sweating of the armpits). Within the past few years, new products that have similar preparations have been introduced into the U.S. market and have been well-received by patients.
Ptosis generally occurs from injecting the frontalis incorrectly. The worst mistake is for the injector to move the procerus and corrugator injection points higher, where they will place more onabotulinumtoxinA into the frontalis. It is important to examine patients to determine their preexisting conditions prior to treatment administration. In particular, patients should be examined for pre-existing eyelid ptosis or pseudoptosis. With pseudoptosis, the lid strength is normal, but soft tissue covers part of the upper lid. With lid ptosis, the lid strength is weak. For both lid ptosis and pseudoptosis, patients will have frontalis compensatory activity, resulting in upgoing eyebrows (reverse Babinski sign). With brow ptosis, the frontalis is weak, and the eyebrow is depressed downward leading to tissue resting on the upper lid. To avoid this, the frontalis should be injected in the upper third of the forehead. The corrugator muscle attaches to bone at the medial end of the superciliary arch. The muscle fibers travel laterally and upward inserting into the skin in the middle of the supraorbital margin. The corrugator muscle is partially blended with the orbicularis oculi and occipitofrontalis. The supraorbital and supratrochlear nerves pass through the corrugator muscle. The corrugator muscle acts to pull the eyebrows downward and medially, which causes vertical wrinkle lines in the skin between the brows.
Currently, to participate in ARMR, you must be a patient at one of the study’s enrolling medical centers. You can see a full list of the participating centers here. “The number of centers participating in the ARMR is growing rapidly,” Dr. Schwedt says. “There will be eight or nine centers by the end of this year, and ARMR will continue to grow in 2019.” Patients at any of the participating centers who are interested in ARMR can visit ARMR.org to learn more and can contact their clinician’s office to find out how to enroll. Once enrolled, participants answer online questionnaires, provide a blood sample, and maintain a daily headache diary. Visit the ARMR website for more information and to learn about how you can get involved in the study.
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, trouble swallowing.
When asked how often he turns people away, Dr. Matarasso says: “I turned someone away today. I had a gentleman come in, he was an appropriate candidate anatomically, he had some deep lines in his forehead, but his expectations were unrealistic. He wanted every line erased, and I said, ‘No, you are going to look a little mask-like.’ I gave him a brochure and said, 'Go home and think about it.'”
Younger patients have been increasingly hopping on the Botox bandwagon as a preventative measure—even before the wrinkles appear or deepen. That’s why dermatologists can’t recommend the best age to start or try Botox, since it depends on your goals, your facial expressions, and your preference. If all you see when you look at a photo of yourself is that forehead wrinkle instead of your bright eyes or smile, it might make you happier to get the wrinkle taken care of. “Each time we raise our eyebrows, or scowl by bringing our eyebrows together, the wrinkles in these locations get deeper and more numerous. It happens slowly over a long period of time, so you don’t notice it on a daily basis,” Dr. Tutela says. “But if you look at the horizontal wrinkles in your forehead when you are not raising your eyebrows, you will see an increase in these wrinkles when you do raise your brows. If you then hold that raised brow position for 10 seconds, you will notice when you relax, your forehead wrinkles look deeper and more numerous. Botox prevents this from happening.” It’s almost never too early to start a good anti-aging regimen. Learn the most in-demand cosmetic treatments across the US.
Baby Botox can also be used as an upkeep strategy. "I really think of it as small maintenance doses of Botox over time instead of standard doses given at three- to six-month intervals," says Smith. "The other term that describes this well is 'tweakment' — subtle changes done over a longer period of time using lower doses of product at each treatment."
In addition to glabellar lines, Botox is used to eradicate crow’s feet, frown lines, and lines and furrows in the forehead. Whereas treating crow's feet and forehead lines with Botox was for many years an off-label use, the toxin has since received FDA approval for both uses. Botox is also approved to treat a variety of medical conditions, including ocular muscle spasms, problems with eye coordination, severe armpit perspiration, migraine headaches, overactive bladder, urinary incontinence related to nerve damage from conditions such as multiple sclerosis and spine injury. Botox is being studied to determine if it might be useful in treating conditions such as knee and hip osteoarthritis, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Migraine is not a synonym for just a really bad headache, Galli says, which is one of the biggest misconceptions of this disease. It’s a full-body experience that affects your daily life. Being able to break that stigma and, instead, making migraine a synonym of the “this huge debilitating monster of a disease” is one way to change that. Knowledge is a powerful tool for migraine management. The American Migraine Foundation maintains a comprehensive resource library full of fact sheets, toolkits and advice sourced directly from the nation’s leading migraine specialists. Visit AMF’s website to learn more and to find a headache doctor near you.
Tell your doctor if you have received any other botulinum toxin product in the last 4 months; have received injections of botulinum toxin such as Myobloc®, Dysport®, or Xeomin® in the past (tell your doctor exactly which product you received); have recently received an antibiotic by injection; take muscle relaxants; take an allergy or cold medicine; take a sleep medicine; take aspirin-like products or blood thinners.