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.”
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.”
Patients with smaller neck muscle mass and patients who require bilateral injections into the sternocleidomastoid muscle for the treatment of cervical dystonia have been reported to be at greater risk for dysphagia. Limiting the dose injected into the sternocleidomastoid muscle may reduce the occurrence of dysphagia. Injections into the levator scapulae may be associated wit h an increased risk of upper respiratory infection and dysphagia.
Ray Chester, an attorney in Austin who has represented several plaintiffs in lawsuits against Allergan, says that just about all the cases he has handled involved off-label use of the drug. In 2014 a New York couple argued that Botox, which they chose to try off-label to treat their son's cerebral-palsy symptoms, caused life-threatening complications. The family was awarded $6.75 million by a jury. Allergan, which initially planned to appeal, ended up privately settling the case with the family, and the terms of the settlement have been kept confidential.
Receiving Botox injections for migraines is a straightforward outpatient procedure. The skin in the area to be injected is cleaned. Most injections are administered in the forehead area, usually above the eyes or where “worry lines” might occur. Because this area may be sensitive or patients may be experiencing hypersensitivity to pain, a topical anesthetic may be applied before the injection.
Botox has also been shown to prevent chronic migraines, but there, it's unclear exactly why Botox works. (For doctors, reaching a firm understanding of how Botox prevents migraines will be tricky, since they don't know for certain what causes the severe headaches in the first place.) "There were multiple clinical trials for migraines, and most of them failed," says Dr. Mitchell Brin, senior vice president of drug development at Allergan and chief scientific officer for Botox. "It took a long time to figure out where to inject and how much." Today people who receive Botox for migraine prevention get 31 injections in different spots on their head and neck. The effects of Botox can last about three to six months depending on the condition.
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.
A migraine requires only two of the following headache features: a unilateral distribution (one-sided), pulsatile quality (throbbing), moderate or severe pain (more than 5 out of 10), and aggravation by physical activity (such as bending over). In addition, to diagnose migraine, only one of the following is required: nausea or vomiting or sensitivity to light and noise.
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In 1998, David E.I. Pyott became CEO of Allergan. He was enthusiastic about Botox's wrinkle-reducing potential, he says, and pushed the company to conduct a series of studies on the matter. In 2002, Botox earned FDA approval for so-called frown lines--wrinkles between eyebrows--marking the first time a pharmaceutical drug was given the green light for a strictly cosmetic purpose. In 2001, the year before Botox was approved for wrinkles, it generated about $310 million in sales. By 2013, the year it was approved for overactive bladder, Allergan reported nearly $2 billion in revenue from Botox.
When most people see the results of Botox, they are extremely pleased. Botox’s ability to iron out wrinkles is pretty impressive. The fine lines and wrinkles that were all you could see in the mirror appear much less severe and the overall appearance is refreshed and more relaxed and rejuvenated. Botox results typically last up to six months. Botox also acts as a preventative measure for wrinkles, as it prevents repetitive folding of the skin that come from the frequency of making expressions. By injecting Botox before wrinkles even form, you’re setting the stage for a younger look for years to come.
But it could be something else altogether. In 2008, Matteo Caleo, a researcher at the Italian National Research Council's Institute of Neuroscience in Pisa, published a controversial study showing that when he injected the muscles of rats with Botox, he found evidence of the drug in the brain stem. He also injected Botox into one side of the brain in mice and found that it spread to the opposite side. That suggested the toxin could access the nervous system and the brain.
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.