November 01, 2021
Almost everyone has heard of Botox. First it was touted as an exclusive treatment for movie stars as a way to preserve their youthful appearance. Then as it became more widely accepted and less expensive, Botox treatment for fine lines and wrinkles made it into one of the most widely accepted dermatology treatments currently in use, with more than 7 million treatment procedures done annually!
Today, Botox is used for a wide variety of dermatological procedures besides reducing wrinkles including uses in serious medical conditions. Before we get into those, let’s find out what Botox really is.
Botox is short for “Botulinum Toxin A” which is a substance derived from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is the very same toxin that causes botulism, a serious, life-threatening type of food poisoning. But don’t worry, the small doses used by qualified professionals are very safe, although there can be side effects including pain or bruising where the toxin was injected, flu like symptoms or a headache, and temporary drooling or a crooked smile.
Botox works by blocking the chemical signals that cause your muscles to contract, leaving them in a temporary state of relaxation. So if your dermatologist injects Botox in your face, this causes the facial muscles in your forehead and around your eyes to relax, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and causing you to have a more youthful appearance.
There are other dermatological uses as well, including reducing “jowls” by injecting along the jawline, and also using Botox in place of surgery for a Botox facelift. On average, Botox treatments last from four to six months, although this varies from person to person.
Other lesser known conditions in which Botox has been successfully used are:
Chronic migraine headaches
For people who experience migraines more than 15 days a month, Botox injections may decrease the frequency of these debilitating headaches.
Excessive sweating - Hyperhydrosis
The medical term for this is hyperhidrosis. People who suffer from this will sweat even if the temperature is comfortable and they are not exerting themselves or exercising. Botox injections can block the signals from nerves that are responsible for sweating and bring temporary relief.
Some people are plagued with constant twitching of the muscles around their eyes. Botox injections can relax these muscles and relieve the twitching.
Overactive bladder, which causes the person to have an uncontrollable urge to urinate frequently, plagues many people and prevents them from leading a normal life. Botox can help and is usually used when medications or other therapies have failed.
Lazy eye, also known as strabismus, can in many cases be temporarily corrected by an injection of a small amount of Botox into the eye muscle that is causing the problem. Strabismus is often seen in children and Botox can be used in this population very successfully in the hands of a skilled medical professional.
This is an extremely painful condition. People who suffer from this find their neck muscles contracting involuntarily, causing their heads to turn and twist into a very uncomfortable position. Botox injections can help to relieve this.
These are the generally accepted indications for Botox, but there are other cutting edge uses currently under investigation, including plantar fasciitiswhere Botox is surpassing steroids in some patients as a treatment. Other conditions undergoing investigation are irregular heartbeat, back pain and difficulty swallowing.
You should only get Botox treatment from a licensed, trained and qualified health professional. These injections must be very precisely placed, both to get the best results and to avoid unwanted side effects.