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.
In my experience, this, like all other treatments we use in medicine, doesn’t benefit every patient. I find that it helps a majority of appropriate patients, that is, those patients with a diagnosis of chronic migraine who have failed not just abortive but also preventative migraine treatments. Is there sufficient benefit, however, to outweigh the cost and pain of this treatment? In the case of most of my patients, the answer is yes.
After the injections, the patient will usually lay upright or semiupright on the exam table for about two to five minutes to make sure he or she feels good after the procedure, and then the patient should avoid lying down for two to four hours. If bruising is a concern, it will be important for the patient to avoid taking aspirin or related products, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), if possible after the procedure to keep bruising to a minimum.
What Other Factors Determine the Cost of Botox? The fixed cost of Botox or Dysport that the doctor pays for the drugs is relatively expensive and therefore that cost is obviously passed along to the patient. The cost of Botox or Dysport injections also depends upon the number of areas that are required to obtain the best results. The more areas that need treatment the greater the amount of injections that will be required to arrive at the most desirable result. Simply put -the more areas that need treatment the higher the cost of treatment.
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Botox only lasts three to six months—and yet what's less commonly discussed is this: Facial muscles naturally weaken over time and going overboard in a certain area could have unwanted consequences. "If you do too much Botox on your forehead for many, many years, the muscles will get weaker and flatter," cautions Wexler, adding that the skin can also appear thinner and looser. Moreover, as your muscles become weaker, they can start to recruit surrounding muscles when you make facial expressions. "If one stops using their forehead muscles, they may start squinting using their nose and have wrinkles along the side of their nose," she explains. Translation: You need even more Botox for the newly recruited muscles, says Wexler. To avoid these kind of missteps, researching a doctor diligently is essential, as is approaching injectables conservatively, and asking questions about how the treatment will be tailored to your needs.
In general, adverse reactions occur within the first week follo wing injection of BOTOX and while generally transient, may have a duration of several months or longer. Localized pain, infection, inflammation, tenderness, swelling, erythema, and/or bleeding/bruising may be associated with the injection. Needle-related pain and/or anxiety may result in vasovagal responses (including e.g., syncope, hypotension), which may require appropriate medical therapy.
Before I could try Botox, my health insurance — Cigna — required me to try and fail at least two other meds. I tried tricyclic antidepressants, which made me groggy and turned my brain into molasses, and beta blockers, a class of drugs used for high blood pressure and heart problems. (All treatments to prevent migraines are borrowed from other conditions, except a new class of drugs that was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration.) The beta blockers worked for a few months: they slightly reduced the number of migraines and made the headaches more bearable. But late last year, the migraines became chronic again — I had more than 15 in a month. That’s when my neurologist said: “I think it’s time to try Botox.”
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The incidence of UTI increased in patients who experienced a maximum post-void residual (PVR) urine volume ≥200 mL following BOTOX injection compared to those with a maximum PVR <200 mL following BOTOX injection, 44% versus 23%, respectively. No change was observed in the overall safety profile with repeat dosing during an open-label, uncontrolled extension trial.
BOTOX is administered about every three months, and must be injected at the site of each nerve trigger, relaxing the surrounding muscles so that they won’t compress the nerve and trigger a migraine. It is a potent drug, and we only recommend using it if other preventative treatment options haven’t helped you. It is generally only administered to patients who have at least 14 headaches a month, or don’t respond to other treatments.
The more areas that need treatment the higher the cost of treatment. The reason is also simple – the cost of Botox or Dysport that the doctor pays for the drugs is relatively expensive and therefore that cost is obviously passed along to the patient. A second factor that many patients are unaware of is that Botox and Dysport come in a powder form that must be mixed with sterile saline to reconstitute the vial. The amount of water that is mixed with the Botox or Dysport determines the concentration of the medicine. Some doctors and nurses dilute the powder too much so that the concentration of Botox or Dysport is weak. So if you go to a provider who advertises a cheap price for injections you should question whether or not you are receiving a very dilute injection.This dilute mixture typically does not produce the same effect as a more or not concentrated (more expensive) injection and does not last as long.
It’s been a little over three weeks. The neurologist said that after two weeks, my migraines and headaches should be substantially reduced. I haven’t spoken about it much even to people close to me because I didn’t want to jinx it, but right around the two-week mark, my headaches faded. I did have a migraine the day after the injections, followed by a lingering headache for about a week, but my neurologist didn’t think it was caused by the Botox. I know my body and have a feeling it was, especially because the introduction or removal of medication can exacerbate lupus symptoms and flares, so I was put on a prednisone taper just to be safe.
Table 14 presents the most frequently reported adverse reactions in a placebo-controlled, double-blind post-approval 52 week study with BOTOX 100 Units (Study NDO-3) conducted in MS patients with urinary incontinence due to detrusor overactivity associated with a neurologic condition. These patients were not adequately managed with at least one anticholinergic agent and not catheterized at baseline. The table below presents the most frequently reported adverse reactions within 12 weeks of injection.
BOTOX (onabotulinumtoxinA) for injection is a sterile, vacuum-dried purified botulinum toxin type A, produced from fermentation of Hall strain Clostridium botulinum type A, and intended for intramuscular, intradetrusor and intradermal use. It is purified from the culture solution by dialysis and a series of acid precipitations to a complex consisting of the neurotoxin, and several accessory proteins. The complex is dissolved in sterile sodium chloride solution containing Albumin Human and is sterile filtered (0.2 microns) prior to filling and vacuum-drying.
“ARMR is a longitudinal study. We’re collecting data over time, which will allow us to study changes in headache patterns, health care resource utilization, diagnostic and management strategies, development of co-morbidities and responses to therapies,” Dr. Schwedt says. The registry is comprised of multiple components: The first component is an online platform in which participants fill out a baseline and follow-up questionnaires and clinicians enter the participants’ headache diagnoses. There is also an ARMR headache diary mobile app in which participants share daily information about their migraine attacks, their level of function and their treatment, if any. The third component is a blood sample, which is processed and stored in the ARMR biobank and will be used for genetic analyses. Brain imaging data are collected in the ARMR Neuroimaging Repository, and electronic health record data are pulled and confidentially entered into a centralized ARMR database. “Oftentimes, research is done in silos,” Dr. Schwedt says. “So a group at one institution is doing their own work, collecting their own data, doing their own analysis. And a group at another institution is doing their own work. That isn’t the most efficient way to move forward in the field. We believe creating and sharing data from this large and comprehensive study is really going to improve the efficiency of research in the field.”
There are no data on the presence of BOTOX in human or animal milk, the effects on the breastfed child, or the effects on milk production. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother's clinical need for BOTOX and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed infant from BOTOX or from the underlying maternal conditions.
It is not known whether BOTOX® is safe or effective to treat increased stiffness in upper limb muscles other than those in the elbow, wrist, fingers, and thumb, or in lower limb muscles other than those in the ankle and toes. BOTOX® has not been shown to help people perform task-specific functions with their upper limbs or increase movement in joints that are permanently fixed in position by stiff muscles. Treatment with BOTOX® is not meant to replace existing physical therapy or other rehabilitation that may have been prescribed.