BOTOX® Cosmetic is a prescription drug that, when injected, temporarily paralyzes muscles. It contains a purified and safe form of botulinum toxin A, which is produced by the microbe that causes botulism. Manufactured by Allergan, Inc., it is used to treat permanent furrows and deep wrinkles in the skin that are formed by the continual contraction of facial muscles. In addition to its cosmetic applications, it is used to treat a number of medical problems, including excessive sweating, overactive bladder, neck spasms, crossed eyes, chronic back and jaw pain, and migraines.
Applications for BOTOX Cosmetic
Although originally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of eye and muscle spasms, BOTOX Cosmetic was quickly recognized for its cosmetic value. Properly placed injections of BOTOX Cosmetic block nerve impulses sent to muscles, weakening them to the point where they cannot contract, and temporarily eliminating moderately severe furrows and lines. BOTOX Cosmetic is used to treat the following:
- Forehead furrows
- Frown lines
- Crow's feet
- Skin bands on the neck
According to Allergan, BOTOX Cosmetic has been "extensively researched, with approximately 2500 studies."
BOTOX Cosmetic Procedure and Results
Using a very fine needle, BOTOX Cosmetic is injected directly into facial muscles that are causing furrows and lines. Receiving the injections requires no anesthetic, but some doctors choose to numb the area to be injected with ice packs or a topical anesthetic cream. Results can usually be seen within a few days of treatment, and typically last up to four months, although areas that are treated on a regular basis may retain results longer. Injections should be given only by qualified medical professionals.
Side Effects of BOTOX Cosmetic
Injection-site side effects of BOTOX Cosmetic are usually mild and temporary, and include the following:
Normal activities may be resumed immediately after receiving injections.
BOTOX® Cosmetic for Medical Use
Botulinum toxin, sold under the brand name BOTOX® Cosmetic, is a synthetic chemical that can be used to block nerve signals for treatment of a wide range of conditions. Although most commonly known for its cosmetic applications, BOTOX Cosmetic injections are an effective treatment for many medical conditions, including muscle spasm disorders such as blepharospasm, which results in forcible closure of the eyelids.
BOTOX Cosmetic injections are administered, with no need for anesthesia, directly into the affected muscle. The injection effectively blocks nerve signals sent to the muscle to prevent it from contracting and to reduce pain.
Patients may need anywhere from 1 to 10 injections during a single treatment session in order to successfully block nerve signals. The results of treatment are often most effective during the first 2 to 6 weeks after the injection and, according to the manufacturer, will last for up to 4 months. Results can be maintained through routine follow-up injections.
BOTOX® Injections for Migraines
Although known primarily as a treatment for facial frown lines and "crow's feet," BOTOX® Cosmetic, which is made from a type of bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum type A, also helps, according to the American Headache Society, to reduce the severity and frequency of migraine headaches. Migraines are often caused by reactions to certain triggers that stimulate the production of neurotransmitters in nerve cells, producing pain and other debilitating symptoms.
BOTOX injections are believed to work by either reducing muscle contractions or blocking pain-transmitting chemicals, or by a combination of the two. Patients typically receive BOTOX injections every 3 months; benefits are usually seen by the second treatment. Eventually, some patients are able to extend the time between treatments by up to 6 months.
Candidates for BOTOX Injections for Migraines
BOTOX injections have received United States Food and Drug Administration approval for treating migraines in adults at least 18 years old who have been diagnosed with chronic migraines. In clinical studies, BOTOX injections were shown to be a safe and effective treatment for those who have 15 or more days of headaches each month, and whose headaches last for at least 4 hours. BOTOX treatment reduced the number of days that study participants experienced headaches by as many as 9 days a month (compared to those who took a placebo). Migraines that do develop are often less severe than those experienced prior to BOTOX treatment.
BOTOX injections may be a successful treatment for chronic migraine sufferers whose headaches have not responded well to, or who have experienced rebound headaches from, other migraine medications. Studies have not yet confirmed whether BOTOX Cosmetic is an effective form of treatment for episodic migraines, which occur 14 or fewer days per month.
BOTOX injections are given in a doctor's office. Premeasured amounts of BOTOX Cosmetic are injected in several precise locations around the patient's head and neck. Locations generally include the forehead; the left and right sides of the head (above the ears); the back of the head; the base of the head (just above the neck); and down the sides of the neck. A total of 31 injections is made in those seven areas during a treatment session. For most patients, injections are not painful, producing only slight discomfort similar to that from pinpricks.
Side Effects of BOTOX Injections for Migranes
BOTOX Cosmetic is considered a safe form of treatment when given by a physician in the approved manner and at the recommended dosage. There is the potential for side effects, however, some of which include:
- Temporary neck pain
- Muscle weakness
- Injection-site bruising
Less common side effects of injecting BOTOX Cosmetic to treat muscle spasms include:
- Muscle spasms
- Slight facial paralysis
Rare, but more serious, complications include difficulty swallowing, breathing or speaking. If these symptoms occur at any time from the day BOTOX Cosmetic is injected to several weeks afterward, immediate medical attention is required.