BOTOX, highly diluted botulinium toxin, works to prevent migraine by blocking the release of a chemical in muscle cells that transmits the signal to contract to muscle fibers. Research into using BOTOX to treat migraines began after patients receiving it for other conditions reported improvement in their migraine symptoms. In 2010, after years of research and collecting clinical data, the FDA approved BOTOX for treating chronic migraines.
Over time, the muscles above and between the eyebrows repeatedly contract and tighten, causing wrinkles. Botox Cosmetic works beneath the skin’s surface and targets the underlying muscle activity that causes frown lines and crow’s feet to form over time. Normally when we squint, frown, or make other facial expressions, our nerves release a neurotransmitter chemical, known as acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter binds to receptors within the muscle to make it contract. Wrinkle relaxers like Botox and DYSPORT® work by binding to the acetylcholine receptors, and blocking the signal from the nerve to the muscles.
On November 23, 2015, Allergan and Pfizer announced their intention to merge in a $160 billion transaction, the largest pharmaceutical deal and the third largest merger in history. On April 5, 2016, after the Obama administration announced its plan to ban tax inversions, Pfizer terminated the acquisition and paid Allergan a $150 million breakup fee.
A recent encounter with one of my headache patients got me thinking. I am treating this young woman for chronic migraine with BOTOX injections. She told me that one of her other physicians had been surprised to hear about this use for onabotulinumtoxin A. According to my patient, the gastroenterologist’s words were, “BOTOX for migraines? I’ve never heard of that.”
“Your doctor still has to be willing to do the work of filing a waiver and they don’t get reimbursed for that work, so they don’t like to do it,” Hoffman says. Plus, there’s a federal law called ERISA that exempts certain types of employer-provided health plans, called self-funded plans, from the requirements of state laws. So, for roughly a quarter of Americans who have these health plans, the state limitations to step therapy don’t apply.
The Botox used for migraines and the Botox used for cosmetic procedures is actually exactly the same. "Basically, young and middle-aged women were getting [Botox] for cosmetic purposes, and that’s the most common person that has migraines, and that’s how they figured out it was helpful," Ravitz tells me. Women were getting Botox for aesthetic reasons and happened to notice relief from their migraine symptoms, and doctors began looking into it as a direct treatment. In fact, women are disproportionately affected by migraines — about 85 percent of chronic-migraine sufferers are women, and the condition affects 28 million in just the U.S.
Selecting the correct injection points is critical to the success of the procedure. These points are first scored with a marking pencil. Your doctor will likely select numerous injection points for each location to be treated. (These points are located where the muscle contracts — not necessarily at the wrinkle you are hoping to erase.) The Botox filler is then injected into the marked points beneath the skin.
Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, including: plans to have surgery; had surgery on your face; have trouble raising your eyebrows; drooping eyelids; any other abnormal facial change; are pregnant or plan to become pregnant (it is not known if BOTOX® Cosmetic can harm your unborn baby); are breast-feeding or plan to (it is not known if BOTOX® Cosmetic passes into breast milk).