Botox® was originally approved by the FDA for use in the treatment of spastic muscles of the face and eyes in the late 1980’s. It was many years later that the potential for cosmetic use with the elimination of wrinkles was realized. Since then, it seems that every few months a new idea for Botox® has been discovered.
While Botox® was the first neurotoxin given FDA approval in the United States, it now has some competition which had kept the price from rising year after year. Dysport® was the second product made available for temporarily paralyzing facial muscles to reduce lines and wrinkles and Xeomin® is now the latest such product to receive FDA approval.
One of the more common uses of Botox® now is for the treatment and prevention of migraine and other types of headaches. It has been discovered that the cause of many headaches is due to pressure on sensory nerves of the forehead and scalp by the muscles, which they pass through. By relaxing those muscles and preventing them from contracting, there is no compression on the nerves and this can prevent the headache from starting or lessen its severity. Many patients who get neurotoxin injections for cosmetic reasons, love the side benefit of eliminating headaches while their furrows disappear.
Some people develop excessively thick lower jaw muscles giving a square appearance to the lower face. This is often caused by grinding of the teeth at night (bruxism), which can contribute to TMJ disorders as well as headaches. These muscles can be relaxed and reduced in size by a series of Botox® injections which allows for a smoother, more angular appearance to the lower face and a reduction or elimination of nighttime grinding. Once again, treatment of prominent masseter muscles has both a cosmetic as well as a medical benefit.
Excessive sweating (hyperhydrosis) of the underarms, palms and soles can also be treated with Botox®. Injections performed in these areas disrupt the interaction of skin nerves and their sweat glands, dramatically reducing the amount of sweat that is produced. The effects of these injections can last for up to a year.
Botox® is also commonly used to relax over-active muscles in the arms, legs and neck caused by strokes and various birth defects. It has recently been found to be effective in the field of Urology for treatment of incontinence.
Unlike injectable fillers that are used to mechanically fill in lines and wrinkles that are all relatively thick substances and cannot be injected through the smallest of needles, neurotoxins are as thin as water an can be inserted using tiny needles. Not only does this reduce the pain with the injections, which is typically minimal, but it also reduces the risk of bleeding and bruising. It is best to not perform strenuous activity for about three hours after neurotoxin injections and to avoid massaging the area treated to prevent the product from affecting unintended muscles.