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.
Botox costs can vary anywhere from $200 to $400 or more depending on the physician, location, units purchased, desired profit margin, ongoing promotions, etc. Many doctor's offices price Botox based on cost per unit, but others price Botox injections based on the area of the injection. Whether Botox is charged by the unit or by the area might not matter that much if the Botox treatment is effective, but if you want to know exactly how much you are paying for your treatment, you need to know the number of units of Botox per treatment and the cost per unit. (An honest practice will not hesitate to give you this information if you ask.)
Since then, several randomized control trials have shown botulinum toxin type A to improve headache symptoms and quality of life when used prophylactically for patients with chronic migraine who exhibit headache characteristics consistent with: pressure perceived from outside source, shorter total duration of chronic migraines (<30 years), "detoxification" of patients with coexisting chronic daily headache due to medication overuse, and no current history of other preventive headache medications.
When BOTOX was administered intramuscularly to pregnant rats (0.125, 0.25, 0.5, 1, 4, or 8 Units/kg) or rabbits (0.063, 0.125 , 0.25, or 0.5 Units/kg) daily during the period of organogenesis (total of 12 doses in rats, 13 doses in rabbits), reduced fetal body weights and decreased fetal skeletal ossification were observed at the two highest doses in rats and at the highest dose in rabbit s. These doses were also associated with significant maternal toxicity, including abortions, early deliveries, and maternal death. The developmen tal no-effect doses in these studies of 1 Unit/kg in rats and 0.25 Units/kg in rabbits are less than the human dose of 400 Units, based on Units/kg.
Marrying ophthalmology to dermatology, Jean and Alistair Carruthers observed that blepharospasm patients who received injections around the eyes and upper face also enjoyed diminished facial glabellar lines (“frown lines” between the eyebrows), thereby initiating the highly-popular cosmetic use of the toxin. Brin, and a group at Columbia University under Monte Keen made similar reports. In 2002, following clinical trials, the FDA approved Botox Cosmetic, botulinum A toxin to temporarily improve the appearance of moderate-to-severe glabellar lines. The FDA approved a fully in vitro assay for use in the stability and potency testing of Botox in response to increasing public concern that LD50 testing was required for each batch sold in the market.
Individuals with peripheral motor neuropathic diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or neuromuscular junction disorders (eg, myasthenia gravis or Lambert-Eaton syndrome) should be monitored when given botulinum toxin. Patients with known or unrecognized neuromuscular disorders or neuromuscular junction disorders may be at increased risk of clinically significant effects including generalized muscle weakness, diplopia, ptosis, dysphonia, dysarthria, severe dysphagia, and respiratory compromise from therapeutic doses of BOTOX® (see Warnings and Precautions).
Botulinum toxin is one of the most poisonous substances known to man. Scientists have estimated that a single gram could kill as many as 1 million people and a couple of kilograms could kill every human on earth. In high concentrations, botulinum toxin can result in botulism, a severe, life-threatening illness. Botulism, left untreated, may result in respiratory failure and death. Despite botulinum toxin being so toxic, Botox is in huge demand.
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.
Some skin care centers advertise low prices for Botox on a "cost per area" basis, advertising prices of $200-$300 for one area. The doctor we spoke to recommends getting price quotes on a "cost per unit" basis, because some places might be quoting lower prices but giving you smaller treatments, which may be less effective and require more frequent visits.
That said, there are a few things I'd make sure everyone knows before trying it. For one thing, it can be pretty painful. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but getting 30 to 40 shots every three months is pretty rough — it feels a bit like getting tattooed with a bee's stinger, but once the needle is out of your skin, the pain goes away, and if it works for you, it's worth it. It's also important to know that it can take some time to work. The first treatment barely worked at all for me, and the second round took a few weeks. If you're going to try it out, be patient.
In the United States, botulinum toxin products are manufactured by a variety of companies, for both therapeutic and cosmetic use. A U.S. supplier reported in its company materials in 2011 that it could "supply the world's requirements for 25 indications approved by Government agencies around the world" with less than one gram of raw botulinum toxin. Myobloc or Neurobloc, a botulinum toxin type B product, is produced by Solstice Neurosciences, a subsidiary of US WorldMeds. AbobotulinumtoxinA), a therapeutic formulation of the type A toxin manufactured by Galderma in the United Kingdom, is licensed for the treatment of focal dystonias and certain cosmetic uses in the U.S. and other countries.
The drug has come a long way since its ability to smooth facial wrinkles was first discovered, by accident. In the 1970s, ophthalmologist Dr. Alan B. Scott started studying the toxin as a therapy for people with a medical condition that rendered them cross-eyed. "Some of these patients that would come would kind of joke and say, 'Oh, Doctor, I've come to get the lines out.' And I would laugh, but I really wasn't tuned in to the practical, and valuable, aspect of that," Scott told CBS in 2012. Scott named the drug Oculinum and formed a company of the same name in 1978. In 1989 he received FDA approval for the treatment of strabismus (the crossed-eye disorder) and abnormal eyelid spasms.
Tell your doctor if you 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 injection; take muscle relaxants; take allergy or cold medicines; take sleep medicine; take aspirin-like products or blood thinners.
Dosing in initial and sequential treatment sessions should be tailored to the individual patient based on the patientâ€™s head and neck position, localization of pain, muscle hypertrophy, patient response, and adverse event history. The initial dose for a patie nt without prior use of BOTOX should be at a lower dose, with subsequent dosing adjusted based on individual response. Limiting the total dose injected into the sternocleidomastoid muscle to 100 Units or less may decrease the occurrence of dysphagia [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
I would caution against shopping around for cheap Botox. There are practitioners than offer bargain prices that are not sustainable from a business standpoint. They may be diluting their Botox or injecting less units than advertised. Also, some practitioners charge less per unit of Botox but inject significantly more Botox than is required to achieve the optimal outcome. For instance, 60 units of Botox at $10/unit is more expensive than 45 well placed units at $12/unit.
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, and trouble swallowing.