The Many Powers of Botox
THE MANY POWERS OF BOTOX
by Sam Pick
If you’ve tried it, chances are, you love it—but did you know that Botox® is more than just an effective means for (temporarily) making wrinkles pull a disappearing act? Because it works by relaxing muscles, it poses a slew of additional non-cosmetic uses. Read on and you’ll see: it’s no one-trick pony.
THE BOTOX WE KNOW AND LOVE
The Botulinum toxin—also known as Botox—is commonly used as a paralyzing agent, helping to prevent expression-related wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes, forehead and mouth. Results usually take about a week, and generally last for 3 months … longer, if you’re lucky.
BOTOX FOR MIGRAINES
It’s a condition suffered by some 12% of all Americans—and if you’re among them, there’s no need for us to elaborate on the intense pulsing and throbbing pain. Now FDA-approved, Botox is being injected to specific sites in the head and neck, preventing the onset of migraine headaches and providing long-lasting relief from pain without short or long-term side effects. The treatment is administered every 12 weeks or so, and it’s believed that with multiple and consistent injections, future headache symptoms with significantly decrease.
They can be embarrassing and, worse, dangerous: facial tics take place when the muscles in the face contract involuntarily, causing the face to scrunch up against its will. There are two variations of facial tics, known as dystonia and hemifacial spasms. (Dystonia spasms affect the entire face whereas hemifacial spasms occur on one side of the face only.) In some cases, Botox is an appropriate treatment, weakening facial muscles and intercepting the “message” that would otherwise cause them to contract. This particular use is also FDA-approved—and your medical insurance may cover the cost.
For a voice disorder such as spasmodic dysphonia, a Botox injection might be the perfect solution. This disorder affects the muscles of the larynx, making the simple task of speech very difficult and sounding strained. By injecting Botox into the larynx, the muscles become relaxed providing significant relief and improving voice quality. Although the disorder has no cure, the effects of Botox last an average of 3 or so months, significantly improving one’s quality of life. Side effects can include temporary softness and breathiness of speech or temporary difficultly in swallowing.
Urge urinary incontinence is the result of muscle abnormalities like spasms and contractions. Again, Botox is injected so to “block” these messages being sent to the muscles. This injection can provide relief for up to a year, however it is yet to be approved by the FDA, so is not usually covered by insurance.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The administration of Botox for such off-label conditions differs greatly to that of treatment for lines and wrinkles. Injection techniques, locations and dosages for achieving the most effective, long-lasting results are all unique to the condition and patient. Thus it is imperative to research and choose a physician who is qualified and experienced in that specific procedure.
Article posted 10/17/2012.