Botox is best known for its ability to minimize wrinkles, but this popular injection has a number of uses that may surprise you. Botox, a drug made from a toxin created by certain bacteria, relaxes muscles and smooths wrinkles when injected into the skin in small doses. Botox works by blocking the signals between nerves and muscles, leading to less movement in the muscles.
Botox has been approved by the FDA to treat several medical and cosmetic conditions. It was originally approved to treat eye muscle problems and eyelid spasms, and was later approved for the cosmetic purpose of relaxing frown lines between the eyebrows.
Today, Botox is FDA-approved to treat several medical and cosmetic conditions, including:
- Chronic migraines
- Excessive underarm sweating
- Overactive bladder
- Muscle stiffness in the elbow, wrist, finger, ankle or toe muscles
- Certain eye muscle problems or eyelid spasms
- Severe neck spasms
- Frown lines between the eyebrows
- Crow’s feet around the side of the eyes
Botox can also be used for other purposes. Once a drug is FDA-approved in the U.S., doctors are legally allowed to prescribe it for other conditions if they think it will be of benefit. Some of these other purposes for Botox include treatment of:
- Cleft lip scars in babies
- Severely cold hands
- Pain associated with TMJ disorders
Here’s a closer look at how Botox helps with some of these conditions:
In the 1990s, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills noticed that patients who received Botox injections for wrinkles started having fewer headaches. Allergan, the company that owns Botox, started testing the drug for migraine treatment, and the FDA approved Botox for this use in 2010. When used for migraine prevention, Botox is injected in different places around the head and neck. The effects are temporary and last around three months.
Excessive underarm sweating
Similarly, doctors noticed that patients who received Botox injections for facial spasms were sweating less, which led Allergan to study the use of Botox for excessive underarm sweating, a condition known as primary axillary hyperhidrosis. Botox was approved for this use in 2004. Some doctors also recommend Botox for excessive sweating in the hands and feet.
Botox has also been approved to help treat urinary incontinence, or overactive bladder. In people with urinary incontinence, the bladder contracts unexpectedly, leading to leakage. Research shows that injecting Botox directly into the bladder can help treat the problem. Patients who participated in several studies saw a 50 percent or greater decrease in leaks, and roughly half of participants reported that their symptoms stopped completely.
Allergan is currently conducting trials on the effects of Botox on depression, and early results show that the drug can ease symptoms. Researchers aren’t yet sure why this is, but some suggest that Botox works through something called the facial feedback hypothesis, which states that an individual’s facial expressions can influence emotions. A study conducted in 2013 found that more than half of patients who received Botox injections for depression reported reduced symptoms after a period of six weeks, compared to just 15% of participants who received a placebo.
People who tend to clench their jaw or grind their teeth often develop pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects the jawbone to the skull. These types of TMJ disorders, commonly referred to simply as TMJ, can lead to chronic facial pain, difficulty eating, locking of the jaw joint, and pain around the ears or other parts of the head. Botox injections can be used to relax the TMJ muscles and prevent jaw clenching. This simple procedure requires about 50 units of Botox and results last for about 6 months.
Watch the video below for more information on using Botox injections to treat TMJ disorders.
Botox is generally considered safe if administered in small amounts by a licensed professional, but some risks are involved. The effects of Botox can spread around the injection site, potentially causing muscle weakness. Always choose a trained, qualified injector with a medical license for Botox or other injectables.
Garcia Weight Loss & Wellness Centers are proud to be Platinum providers for Allergan, and we participate in Allergan’s Brilliant Distinctions Program. Request a consultation today to learn what Botox can do for you!