Botulinum toxin is a neurotic protein that temporarily paralyzes muscles when injected. It relaxes the muscles and causes a smoothing of the overlying skin, making it a very popular option to treat wrinkles in the cosmetics industry.
Botox is great for tending to facial issues but actually has many other uses, as well. In addition to cosmetics, Botox can be used in the medical industry to treat excessive sweating, muscle spasms, physical disorders, and even combat severe migraines and headaches. Considering that over 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain, Botox could be a welcome answer to their problem.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, use of Botox and other neuromodulators has surged by 819% since the year 2000, with more than 7,000,000 treatments in the U.S. in 2017 alone.
According to The New York Times, Botox injections resulted in an average of 1.6 fewer migraine attacks for individuals with more than 15 headaches a month.
Botox usually last around three to six months, after which it’s recommended to schedule additional treatment sessions. Treatments usually consist of 15 to 20 shots around the head and neck over a six-month period. Researchers analyzed data from 17 different studies, including 3,646 patients that tested botulinum toxin injects against placebos. The majority of the participants — 86% — were women, 43% of which suffered from chronic migraines.
However, the study found that Botox did have more side effects than a placebo, including double vision, muscle tightness, and muscle weakness — but no severe side effects were reported.
“For chronic migraines, Botox is a better prophylactic than the drugs,” said Dr. Eva Bruloy, the study’s lead author and a plastic surgeon at the University Hospital of Amiens-Picardie in France.
Dr. Bruloy adds that there are plenty of pharmaceutical drugs on the market that effectively treat chronic migraines, but they often have much worse side effects than Botox injections.
Botox has been deemed to be a safe treatment, but, as with any medical or aesthetic procedure, there are a few risks involved. The majority of Botox-related risks, however, are purely due to the injection needle, itself, which could potentially cause bruising, bleeding, and infections.
Botox as a form of cosmetic treatment was approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration in April 2002. Additionally, Botox treatments are only FDA-approved for patients suffering from chronic migraines, meaning they experience a headache on 15 or more days a month.
“The more frequent the headaches, the better the patient does with Botox,” added Dr. Andrew Blumenfeld, Director of The Headache Center of Southern California.