The Many Uses of Botox
This agent is used to address a variety of health concerns, but its primary application is to reduce fine lines and wrinkles in the face. We refer to this as Botox Cosmetic, and once we cover this subject, we’ll move into the many other ways this therapy can provide relief for painful, embarrassing, or even dangerous conditions.
Fine Lines and Wrinkles
These early signs of aging commonly start around the eyes and in the forehead. They are the body’s response to a number of factors: sun exposure, diet, smoking, and even genes. But they primarily form because natural levels of collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin wane with each passing year until, at age 45, you’ve lost at least 20 percent of these crucial proteins.
Wrinkles come in two varieties: dynamic and fine lines. We’re all born with the former. They form as the result of common muscle movements in the face, such as when you squint or laugh. Crows’ feet are additional examples of dynamic wrinkles. With time, these creases grow deeper and become more visible. Fine lines similarly develop as collagen thins and skin starts to sag.
How Treatment Helps
When injected, this therapy blocks messages between the brain and muscles. Those messages are responsible for such muscle movements as stretching and contracting. Without signals coming to them, the muscles naturally relax. This reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles for a smoother and more refreshed appearance. For further clarification, you might think of this therapy as temporarily paralyzing muscles.
The process is simple: during treatment, we’ll likely start by applying a numbing cream. We then inject the therapy into your treatment area. That’s it. You’ll see considerable improvement of lines and wrinkles in under a week. After about six months, you’ll need another session to continue the same effect.
Common Facial Areas for Injections
Because it easily spreads, this therapy is often used to treat fine lines in the forehead. Another popular area is in the skin between the eyebrows, just above the nose. The two lines that form here are commonly known as 11 lines because run vertically and resemble the number “11.” Additional areas this treatment is often used include:
- Upper eyebrow
- Crow’s feet
- Lines around the nose (often referred to as bunny lines)
- Smile lines around the mouth
- Chin dimpling
Preventing Lines and Wrinkles
Another way this treatment offers cosmetic benefits is by preventing lines and wrinkles. When the muscles are “frozen,” as happens after treatment, they can’t move and cause additional wrinkles. Equally beneficial, existing wrinkles cannot be made worse. In this way, treatment helps stop your face’s aging process
The Therapeutic Facet
In 1987, two doctors in Vancouver discovered the wrinkle-reducing abilities of this treatment thanks to an offhand comment made by a patient. That patient – a woman – claimed injections to prevent her eye spasms also made her wrinkles disappear. The doctors pondered this and shortly thereafter revolutionized the concept of beauty.
But, as we said earlier, this treatment is more than a cosmetic corrector, and here we’ll explain the uses of Botox Therapeutic. The conditions treated under this label are vastly different from those of the cosmetic facet, but the therapy is still used in essentially the same way: to disrupt nerve signals and freeze muscles.
To start this conversation, we need to backtrack to the concept of using this therapy to correct eye spasms. If you’ve ever experienced an eye twitch, you know how annoying it can be. Chronic eye spasms can be severe enough to cause the eye to close.
These involuntary movements are caused by many factors, including an ingrown eyelash, inflamed eyelid, or disorder like Bell’s Palsey. Doctors consider this treatment to be the best of all options. It works to weaken eyelid muscles so they no longer spasm. During treatment, the agent is injected directly into muscles that surround the eye. Effects last for about three months and must then be repeated.
Just as the eye can rapidly twitch, so too can the muscles along one side of the face. This condition may start in the mouth, with one portion pulling to the side, and can then spread all the way to the neck. Facial spasms are typically attributed to nerve damage, but Botox is once again approved as a highly-effective treatment.
The application is similar to those already listed. The agent gets injected into a localized muscle to reduce movement. Surgery is the only other treatment option for facial spasms, but doctors reserve this for extreme cases.
This therapy is also FDA approved to manage pain – specifically, that caused by chronic migraines. The discovery that it helps prevent headaches came by accident when a Beverly Hills surgeon in 1992 noticed his Botox patients reported fewer headaches. He did some research and, since 2010, doctors have used this agent to help migraine sufferers.
However, patients need to first meet a set of criteria before receiving treatment: they must experience headaches on at least 15 days per month that last a minimum of four hours each day. In addition, patients must be 18 years or older. Treatment consists of 31 injections on the neck and head. Patients usually see improvements for about three months, and then another session is necessary.
The domino effect of discovering new ways to use this therapy continued with underarm sweating. Doctors observed that patients receiving treatment for facial spasms did not sweat as much. Hence, in 1994, this agent received FDA approval to treat the condition known as hyperhidrosis.
This can devastate a person’s life, as excessive sweating isn’t limited to just the underarms. It can occur on the hands, feet, and scalp, to name a few spots. By stopping nerve signals that promote sweating, sweat glands stop producing so much. Follow-up treatments are necessary around the six-month marker.
The paralyzing effects of this therapy have been described as among the most “impactful” ways to treat overactive bladder. Patients, who are mostly females, reportedly have only three leaks a day as opposed to the norm of five.
During treatment, injections are made directly into the bladder to help relax muscles. This provides women with more time to get to the bathroom once they feel an urge to urinate. Symptoms usually improve for around six months.
Another condition in which this treatment serves to relax muscles is with crossed-eyes. Around 4 percent of Americans have this disorder, but the good news is that it can be treated.
During therapy, the eye is first numbed with anesthetic drops. Then, doctors use a special needle to directly inject the therapy into the eye muscle. The needle is held in place for about half a minute to reduce any chances that the agent will spread.
Non-FDA Approved Uses
All of the cosmetic and therapeutic treatments listed above are, once more, approved by the FDA. Those listed below, on the other hand, are not. This means Botox has not been tested for safety or efficacy with regard to treating these conditions.
We know this treatment temporarily freezes muscles. It is this ability that might make it useful in treating depression. What we mean is that by paralyzing the glabellar frown lines, this treatment might keep those feelings of hopelessness and despair at bay.
This theory is based on the facial feedback hypothesis, in which mood might be impacted by facial expressions. Independent studies have shown promise in this regard, but there have been no clinical trials to substantiate the treatment.
Abnormal heartbeat – or atrial fibrillation – commonly afflicts patients after heart surgery. It is associated with higher risks for stroke and death, meaning it is extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, treatment for AFib is sorely lacking.
Botox may quell abnormal heart rhythms and increase patients’ chances of survival. Studies in which doctors injected this treatment into fat surrounding the heart after open-heart surgery reveal the patients experienced less risk of AFib. This remained consistent for up to one year after surgery.
Patients with cold hands have constricted blood flow. Even on the warmest of days, their palms and fingers can remain severely cold. But injecting the paralyzing agent into hands allows muscles to relax. In turn, blood vessels also relax and enlarge to allow for proper blood flow. This relieves symptoms for about three months after each treatment.
Cleft Lips Scars
Scars that can later damage a child’s self-esteem commonly develop after surgery to correct a cleft lip. This surgery is usually performed on babies, but the scar tissue persists well into adulthood.
By injecting this treatment into infants’ scars, muscles cannot move. Healing can then occur with a greatly reduced appearance of scarring. Using the treatment in this way is described as “innovative,” but for the children who can look in the mirror and like what they see, it is life-changing.
Pain During Sex
Yet another place women can experience muscle spasms is in their pelvic floor. We don’t really understand what causes these movements, but they can persist for long periods and cause pain during sex. Additional symptoms can include painful bowel movements and difficulty urinating.
The muscles stop contracting when doctors inject this therapy into the vagina. The goal is, again, to stop and/or slow muscle movement to relieve symptoms.
Up to one-third of all males experience premature ejaculation (PE) at some point, but it’s rarely talked about, and few treatment options exist. One way to relieve this common affliction might be to treat it with Botox. By injecting this therapy into the penis, muscles may relax to prolong ejaculation.
Some studies suggest this therapy may be effective, but it has not been approved. The causes for PE are not well-understood, and without this information, it’s difficult to develop a treatment. However, because of the therapy’s success in treating bladder issues, it may also successfully promote sexual health in men.
A Nearly Limitless Treatment
As time progresses, this therapy will likely be found to benefit additional conditions as well. From a cosmetic perspective, it is especially effective in reducing the appearance of fine lines. But the other ways in which this therapy can improve patients’ lives is nothing short of wonderful.
Our team is here to help you look and feel your best. Call Timeless Laser & Skin Care in Westlake, OH, today to schedule your consultation and see if Botox is right for you.