Allergan says Botox is well established as a drug and that the benefits and risks of toxins are well understood. "With more than 25 years of real-world clinical experience ... approximately 3,200 articles in scientific and medical journals, marketing authorizations in more than 90 markets and many different indications, Botox and Botox Cosmetic are [among] the most widely researched medicines in the world," an Allergan rep wrote in an emailed statement.
The FDA approval was based on a large study showing that Botox significantly reduced migraine frequency and severity, as well as headache-related disability, compared to placebo. As just one measure of its effectiveness, many of my patients report that they’ve cut their use of rescue medications in half since starting Botox – a significant benefit for people who previously had to resort to rescue medications 15 or more times every month.
Treatment with BOTOX® and other botulinum toxin products can result in swallowing or breathing difficulties. Patients with pre-existing swallowing or breathing difficulties may be more susceptible to these complications. In most cases, this is a consequence of weakening of muscles in the area of injection that are involved in breathing or oropharyngeal muscles that control swallowing or breathing (see Boxed Warning).
In the third study, 25 patients with chronic migraine were injected with 12.5 doses of botox into each trigger point twice, during a period of 3 months. Frequency (main variable), intensity and scales of migraine crises were recorded one month before and one month after the treatment to compare the changes experienced. In addition, side effects were also recorded during the experiment, and they were found to be mild and temporary.
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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).
Risks are very minor with this procedure. The main risks consist of headache, pain, and flu-like illness. In rare cases, there may be a drooping lid or eyebrow area. It is important for the cosmetic surgeon to assess the patient's lids before injecting because the patient may not be a good candidate if he or she has an extremely droopy lid to begin with or one that is held up by constantly arching the lids. Ptosis (a severe drooping of the eyelid) can occur in up to 5% of patients but is very rare if the cosmetic surgeon does this procedure often. These complications are typically very minor occurrences and resolve with time.

Exactly how soon you'll need to return for more Botox injections is really up to you. Some patients prefer to return for a touch up of Botox cosmetic after just three months, or at the very first sign of fine lines and facial wrinkles returning. Others prefer to wait six months or more until the effects of the previous injection have completely faded away.

The initial listed doses of the reconstituted BOTOX [see Preparation And Dilution Technique] typically create paralysis of the injected muscles beginning one to two days after injection and increasing in intensity during the first week. The paralysis lasts for 2-6 weeks and gradually resolves over a similar time period. Overcorrections lasting over six months have been rare. About one half of patients will require subsequent doses because of inadequate paralytic response of the muscle to the initial dose, or because of mechanical factors such as large deviations or restrictions, or because of the lack of binocular motor fusion to stabilize the alignment .

Before using this medication, tell your doctor your medical history, especially of: bleeding problems, eye surgery, certain eye problem (glaucoma), heart disease, diabetes, signs of infection near the injection site, urinary tract infection, inability to urinate, muscle/nerve disorders (such as Lou Gehrig's disease-ALS, myasthenia gravis), seizures, trouble swallowing (dysphagia), breathing problems (such as asthma, emphysema, aspiration-type pneumonia), treatment with any botulinum toxin product (especially in the last 4 months).
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group study in adult patients with detrusor overactivity associated with a neurologic condition and restrictive lung disease of neuromuscular etiology [defined as FVC 50-80% of predicted value in patients with spinal cord injury between C5 and C8, or MS] the event rate in change of Forced Vital Capacity ≥15% or ≥20% was generally greater in patients treated with BOTOX than in patients treated with placebo (see Table 6).
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Patients should shave underarms and abstain from use of over-the-counter deodorants or antiperspirants for 24 hours prior to the test. Patient should be resting comfortably without exercise, hot drinks for approximately 30 minutes prior to the test. Dry the underarm area and then immediately paint it with iodine solution. Allow the area to dry, then lightly sprinkle the area with starch powder. Gently blow off any excess starch powder. The hyperhidrotic area will develop a deep blue-black color over approximately 10 minutes.

Shah says that it’s harder to treat wrinkles with just Botox as they get more and more ingrained into the face. “Some people may need just a few injections, but some may require more treatments, such as laser treatments or a series of smaller procedures, which are going to cost more. Whereas if they came in five years earlier, I may have just been able to use Botox to get the same effect,” she says.
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.

“I don’t think it is physically addictive,” says Dr. Matarasso. “But, I have to be very frank with you, when I get a new patient I tell them (and I say this tongue-in-cheek) this product is truly addictive. I make jokes with my patients that we need a 12-step program for it, because when it’s done correctly, it’s a very simple office procedure, with impressive cosmetic results.”
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.
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