Preventative Botox has been getting lots of buzz. “It can potentially have a preventive effect on dynamic wrinkles, which are caused by underlying muscle movement,” Shah explains. “That being said, muscle movement is only one factor that contributes to the development of wrinkles, so Botox may not be completely preventive.” (Some other wrinkle causes: sun exposure, smoking, and diet.)
Side effects from therapeutic use can be much more varied depending on the location of injection and the dose of toxin injected. In general, side effects from therapeutic use can be more serious than those that arise during cosmetic use. These can arise from paralysis of critical muscle groups and can include arrhythmia, heart attack, and in some cases seizures, respiratory arrest, and death. Additionally, side effects which are common in cosmetic use are also common in therapeutic use, including trouble swallowing, muscle weakness, allergic reactions, and flu-like syndromes.
Hoffman’s husband’s experience is not unusual. Once a patient gets the more expensive prescription, health insurance providers can still try and push them back to cheaper drugs. Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Loder says that most health insurance companies stop paying for Botox if it’s not reducing a patient’s migraines by at least 50 percent. “It’s important to keep careful headache diaries and keep careful notes in order to be able to prove to the insurance company that the treatment is worth it,” Loder says. “You’re not home free once they approve it.”
In the mid-1990s, people who received BOTOX for other conditions reported improvement in their chronic migraine pain. A two-phase study was conducted, treating patients who averaged 20 headache days a month. They received BOTOX injections every twelve weeks for 56 weeks. At the end of that period, 70% of the patients had fewer than half the number of headaches they had before treatment. The FDA officially approved BOTOX to treat chronic migraine in October of 2010. Since then, more than 100,000 patients have been treated.
BOTOX injections for migraines is a preventative treatment, rather than treating the condition with pain medication. It was FDA-approved in 2010 and is considered an appropriate treatment for adults who experience migraine headaches more than 15 days per month, for more than three months. The product blocks the release of certain brain chemicals, and it is believed that blocking these chemicals limits the nerve signals causing pain.
Keep in mind that the price is often reflective of experience and quality. Botox injections gone wrong can lead to a "Botox face", a droopy eyelid, migraine headaches, and frozen facial expressions. Unskilled or inexperienced injectors may also cause excessive bruising and more asymmetric results. Experienced plastic surgeons and dermatologists who are good Botox injectors can be much more expensive than injectors with limited experience.
In double-blind, placebo-controlled chronic migraine efficacy trials (Study 1 and Study 2), the discontinuation rate was 12% in the BOTOX treated group and 10% in the placebo-treated group. Discontinuations due to an adverse event were 4% in the BOTOX group and 1% in the placebo group. The most frequent adverse events leading to discontinuation in the BOTOX group were neck pain, headache, worsening migraine, muscular weakness and eyelid ptosis.
"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."
Study responders were defined as patients who showed at least a 2-grade improvement from baseline value on the HDSS 4 weeks after both of the first two treatment sessions or had a sustained response after their first treatment session and did not receive re-treatment during the study. Spontaneous resting axillary sweat production was assessed by weighing a filter paper held in the axilla ov er a period of 5 minutes (gravimetric measurement). Sweat production responders were those patients who demonstrated a reduction in axillary sweating from baseline of at least 50% at week 4.
I had a consult and the doctor quickly realized that I was a candidate for Botox. He ordered an MRI and doppler of my brain to make sure everything else was A-OK, and then the rest was just waiting on my insurance company. With Botox (I’m not sure if it’s all Botox or just prescription), the insurance company orders it from a pharmacy and sends it to the doctor.
The cost of Botox injections varies widely, with most clinics in the United States charging between $9 and $20 per unit. The variation in cost can be influenced by a number of factors, including the location of the clinic or medspa, and the reputation and expertise of the injector. For example, board-certified plastic surgeons who specialize in administering Botox and dermal fillers are likely to charge more because they generally guarantee better results. That is not to say, however, that injectors charging $10 per unit aren’t capable of delivering excellent results as well, but there is far less risk of any complications arising when you choose an injector who has been board-certified. It is always the smartest, safest way to proceed with any cosmetic enhancement.
According to the PREEMPT injection paradigm, one injection of 5 units of onabotulinumtoxinA is administered to one site in the procerus muscle. The procerus injection site is approximately midway between the two corrugator injections. In order to confirm the location of the procerus muscle, the patient is asked to furrow the brow, which will activate the belly of the muscle causing the medial furrowing to occur. Once identified, 5 units of onabotulinumtoxinA is injected superficially into the belly of the muscle at a 90° angle to ensure the injection is administered into the procerus rather than the frontalis. Injections placed too superiorly may inadvertently lead to penetration of the frontalis muscle.
That Groupon offer might be tempting, but Dr. Tutela recommends doing a thorough vetting of your practitioner’s history and methods before signing up for treatment. “I think it is important to ask any provider if they perform that procedure frequently, to gauge their experience,” he says. He also suggests to ask if they’ve experienced any major complications and to check their online reviews. “You can get a sense of how you will be treated and what kind of experience other patients have had,” Dr. Tutela says. “Many of those low-cost, high-volume practices are loaded with horrible reviews from disappointed patients.”
But today it's the medical uses of the drug that are the great moneymaker, in part because doctors are getting a better handle on how to use it. Botulinum toxin type A is one of seven neurotoxins produced from Clostridium botulinum. Contracting botulism is bad news: it can cause blurred vision, persistent trouble swallowing and worse. In one recent case, close to 30 people were hospitalized in Ohio in 2015 after attending a church potluck. One person died. The outbreak was ultimately attributed to a potato salad made from improperly home-canned potatoes that were harboring the bacteria. Given its level of toxicity, some countries have even explored its potential use as a bioweapon.
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We charge Botox Cosmetic by the area. The three most common areas are the crow's feet, forehead, and the lines in-between the brows (glabella). I typically use approximately 60 units for those 3 areas and charge $575. So in our practice we charge about $10/unit. I personally do all of my own injections and have treated over 2000 patients last year with Botox. I have considered raising prices over the past few years, but in today's financial turmoil, even though surgical prices have risen in my practice, Botox and other injectible prices have remained the same for the past 4 years.
Botulinum toxin has been investigated for use in patients with blepharospasm in several studies. In an open label, historical ly controlled study, 27 patients with essential blepharospasm were injected with 2 Units of BOTOX at each of six sites on each side. Twenty-five of the 27 patients treated with botulinum toxin reported improvement within 48 hours. One patient was controlled with a higher dosage at 13 weeks post initial injection and one patient reported mild improvement but remained functionally impaired.
The median duration of response in study NDO-3, based on patient qualification for re-treatment was 362 days (52 weeks) for the BOTOX 100 Units dose group compared to 88 days (13 weeks) for placebo. To qualify for re-treatment, at least 12 weeks must have passed since the prior treatment, post-void residual urine volume must have been less than 200 mL and patients must have reported at least 2 urinary incontinence episodes over 3 days with no more than 1 incontinence -free day.
Chronic migraines are what were formerly known as “transformed” migraines. These are near daily headaches, sometimes with migraine features but otherwise with frequent features of tension headaches. This may sound trivial but the treatment for tension headaches, typically with analgesics, would only make this syndrome worse. We learned that treating these with migraine preventive medications proved mostly effective. The current International Classification of Headache Disorders defines chronic migraine as a recurrent headache that has been ongoing for the past 3 months, occurs on at least 15 days per month, lasts at least 4 hours per day, and has 8 or more days per month when the headache has features of a migraine or responds to a typical migraine medication.
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.”
The only difference between the two procedures is that with Botox for migraines, they may do a few more shots in areas where the pain is experienced. Personally, I usually get between 30 and 40 shots, concentrated mostly on the right side of my head where the pain occurs, at the base of my skull, and on my neck and shoulders, where I tend to hold tension, as doing so can cause a migraine. Botox for migraines can have the same aesthetic effect that cosmetic Botox has, which kills two birds with one stone for people who may desire that effect. "We do it along wrinkle lines and keep it symmetrical," says Ravitz, which explains the erasing of lines and temporary plumping of wrinkles.
Botox comes as a crystalline substance from the manufacturer, which then has to be reconstituted with saline or another liquid. Practitioners add varying amounts of liquid when reconstituting it. Although there is no right or wrong amount of liquid to add, most physicians add about 2 mL-3 mL (about a half a teaspoon) of liquid to each vial. Some add quite a bit more, which can lead patients to think they are getting more Botox when, in reality, they are getting the same or less amount of Botox than samples reconstituted in a stronger way. It is the total dose of medication, not the volume of liquid, that leads to the desired effect.
It’s not just about Botox, though. Last month, the FDA approved the first migraine-specific drug to prevent the severe headaches. Called Aimovig, the injectable med will cost $6,900 a year, according to The New York Times, plus injection fees. Because of the high costs, experts expect the new drug to be subject to step therapy policies. Stephen Silberstein, the director of the headache center at Jefferson University, told me in 2016 that he wouldn’t be surprised if insurance companies required patients to even try and fail Botox before covering the new meds (there are a few of them under development).
The 3rd Annual Migraine Moment Film Contest received a record-breaking number of film submissions this year. Each film delivered a unique message on living with migraine and how people cope with the symptoms that accompany this debilitating disease. At the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco earlier this year, Maria Galli was announced as the contest’s winner. Her powerful film, Invisible Hero, spoke to her strength and superhero-like qualities in fighting a disease that oftentimes makes her feel isolated and alone. In a recent Facebook Live hosted by the American Foundation, Maria Galli spoke with Dr. Bert Vargas, a Neurologist at UT Southwestern, about her experience living with chronic migraine and her outstanding work. [embed]https://www.facebook.com/americanmigrainefoundation/videos/1616373701807260/[/embed]
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.
This is because the discretionary procedures tend to be out of pocket, and providers are used to answering the question: how much does it cost? An MRI, on the other hand, might have several prices: A sticker price, a negotiated or reimbursed rate (what the insurance company pays), the rate that Medicare and Medicaid pay for treatments for people who are older and those who have low income, an out-of-network price, and so on. We know about this because we’ve done pricing surveys for about 35 common procedures in seven U.S. metro areas, collecting cash or self-pay prices for both medically necessary procedures (an MRI, a colonoscopy) and discretionary procedures (Botox, Lasik).
Unremarkable. I mean, that’s a good thing in the MRI-reading world, but I’d like to say my brain is freakin’ remarkable sometimes. Maybe I’m biased. Anyways. Shortly after those tests, the Botox arrived at the office and I was scheduled for my injections. To say I was scared is putting it lightly. Like I mentioned before, I have a complete irrational fear of new medication. Also, I didn’t want my face to look different! So I documented my wrinkles just to see how many would last (if you want, be my guest to check out my embarrassing video). I didn’t have to wait long and before I knew it, I was in a room with my mom, my boyfriend, a neurologist and three needles.
In the first study, researchers examined a sample of healthy subjects and patients with a diagnosis of migraine -any frequency-, and analysed the presence of trigger points and their location, many of the explorations resulting in a migraine crisis. The most interesting findings of this study were: 95% of migraine sufferers have trigger points, while only 25% of healty subjects have them. The most common locations of trigger points are the anterior temporal and the suboccipital region, both billateral, of the head. Furthermore, researchers found a positive correlation among the number of trigger points in a patient, the number of monthly crises and the duration in years of the 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.
The procerus is a small triangular-shaped muscle that intermingles with the inferior aspect of the frontalis muscle. The muscle runs from the aponeurotic fascia on the nasal bones and inserts into the skin of the inferior forehead. The medial portion of the eyebrow and the skin of the lower forehead are drawn down by the procerus muscle, producing transverse wrinkle lines over the bridge of the nose.
The potency Units of BOTOX® are specific to the preparation and assay method utilized. They are not interchangeable with other preparations of botulinum toxin products and, therefore, Units of biological activity of BOTOX® cannot be compared to nor converted into Units of any other botulinum toxin products assessed with any other specific assay method.
The use of Botox for migraines was, like many other new applications for the drug, a kind of happy accident. A Beverly Hills plastic surgeon observed that people who got Botox for wrinkles were reporting fewer headaches, paving the way for studies about migraines. Similarly, doctors in Europe were intrigued when they noticed that their patients who got Botox for facial spasms were sweating less than usual.
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Beware of Botox injections at a "Botox party" at someone's house. You need to be in a medical setting, where any side effects can be treated immediately. You may not see the final effects of the injections during the party anyway, as they usually take a few days. A Botox party isn't such a bad idea if it's held by a doctor in a medical setting, but even then there's a risk of the doctor's attention being divided between you and the other attendees.