The Many Uses of Botox

TL:DR

Botulinum Toxin is the most poisonous substance known to man. Type A Botulinum Toxin, commonly known as Botox, is also one of the most beneficial. 

Botox is an effective weapon in the fight against premature aging. The first and only FDA-approved treatment for frown lines, forehead lines, and crows feet in adults, Botox is a fast and effective treatment requiring little to no downtime. It provides consistent and predictable results, making its use very popular among dermatologists in the United States.

There are also many ways that Botox is used to help treat medical conditions. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Botox for 11 medical therapies. These therapies are for conditions such as chronic migraines, overactive bladder, cervical dystonia (torticollis of the neck), and hyperhidrosis.

Per FDA policy, once a drug clears for use in treating one condition, it can then be prescribed for additional afflictions at your doctor’s discretion. This practice is called “off-label” use.

Eye disorders

One of the oldest medical uses of Botox is in treating eye disorders. Both strabismus (improper alignment) and blepharospasm (spasms in the eyelid) have been treated with Botox injections since the 1980s. 

Each eye has six muscles, two of which control your alignment. When one of the two eye muscles becomes stronger or weaker than the other, your eyes will become out of alignment. Injecting Botox paralyzes the stronger muscle, allowing the weaker one to catch up. Sometimes treatment requires multiple injections.

Excessive sweating

Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that cannot be corrected with the use of antiperspirants or prescription deodorants. 

This embarrassing condition is remedied immediately with Botox injections, which block the nerve signals responsible for sweating, stopping the sweat glands from over-producing. The results can last months. 

As a bonus, insurance will often cover the cost of Botox for the treatment of hyperhidrosis after other avenues have been exhausted. 

Migraines and headaches

Botox is an effective treatment for migraine headaches, blocking the chemicals called neurotransmitters that carry pain signals from your brain. This stops the chemicals before they get to the nerve endings around your head and neck.

More than 50% of patients who have used Botox for headache management have reported a 50% reduction in the days they had experienced pain.  

Doctors have been using this treatment since Dr. William Binder, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, first reported the findings in 1992. 

Overactive bladder

Overactive bladder, or the need to urinate frequently, affects up to 33 million people in the US – mostly women. Four in every ten women will be affected by an overactive bladder at some point in their lives. 

Botox was approved for the treatment of OAB in 2013. It works to relax the bladder and increase storage – meaning you need to go less often. Most people report a reduction in symptoms within a few days. The results usually last around six months.

TMJ

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ, is a condition that causes joint discomfort and pain. It also can cause a host of other issues, such as ringing in the ear, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and sore cheeks. 

Botox injections at the site relax the muscles and ease symptoms for most patients. This study from 2003 reported that 90% of patients had a reduction of symptoms. 

Depression

Botox has shown promising results in treating depression. In a study done in 2014, 74 people received Botox injections. Of those 74, 52% reported a significant decrease in their symptoms. 

Doctors believe this to be in part because of the facial feedback effect. The facial feedback effect suggests that contractions of facial muscles not only signal to others our mood and feelings; but also that these signals are sent to ourselves. In other words, putting on a happy face may trigger happiness. 

Acne 

Adult acne is an issue that almost 50 million Americans deal with. And thanks to Covid, we also have to deal with “mask-ne”. Acne can be hard to treat, and Botox can be used in conjunction with a good skincare routine to help lower oil production and reduce pore size. Botox is used frequently in the treatment of cystic acne in particular. 

Neck, shoulder, and back pain 

Both chronic posterior neck pain, cervical dystonia, and shoulder myofascial pain syndrome are conditions in which Botox is used in tandem with physical therapy to reduce chronic pain and discomfort.

Site injections relax muscles, stop spasms, and block pain. Patients report better sleep and an overall increase in quality of life. 

And of course, wrinkles

Botox injections are still a relatively new therapy, and doctors are finding new uses for it all the time. Still, the number one use today is fighting the signs of aging. For immediate reduction in wrinkles, crows feet, forehead lines, or droopy eyelids, Botox really can’t be beaten. 

TL;DR 

While Botox has long been approved for the treatment of forehead wrinkles, crows feet, and forehead lines, we’re just beginning to learn of its other uses. Doctors are finding new uses for it every day, and the list of conditions that Botox can treat is always growing. 

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