It all started in 1992. That’s when Dr. William Binder, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, noticed that people he treated with Botox were reporting having fewer headaches. The maker Allergan did trials on people with chronic migraines. In 2010, Botox was approved for the treatment of migraines. Some believe the placebo effect accounts for the drug’s impact on migraines. Others swear it really works.
Either way, people treated with Botox for migraines have fewer headaches.
Other options for migraines include antidepressants, anti-seizure medications and blood pressure drugs – all of which have side effects. With several injections placed carefully at locations on the head and neck, many patients experience positive impacts that can last as long as 3 months or even longer. And the side effects are few.
Excessive Sweating And More
Once medical professionals realized that Botox has uses beyond the treatment of lines and wrinkles, doctors and scientists went to work trying to determine what conditions it could improve besides migraines.
Excessive underarm sweating came to their attention.
In 2004, Botox gained FDA approval for the treatment of excessive sweating. That happened because doctors had noticed in the years before that patients they treated for facial spasms weren’t sweating as much after Botox injections. So Allergan and an outside company began studying the connection between Botox and reduced sweating. Today, Botox is used for treating sweaty hands, feet and more.
The product is also FDA approved for treating overactive bladder. As many as 70 percent of women studied had fewer leaks when they were treated with Botox.
Even crossed eyes respond to treatment with Botox. The FDA has approved Botox for treating this problem that impacts as many as 4 percent of Americans. When the eyes don’t line up, muscles can be injected with Botox to relax them, which can allow the eyes to line up better.
Other Conditions Show Promise Too
A number of conditions are treated with Botox “off label” – that is, without FDA approval. When drugs are approved for use by physicians and dentists for certain conditions, these professionals sometimes choose to use the drugs for unapproved purposes as well, and this practice is allowed.
Off-label uses for Botox include the treatment of depression, premature ejaculation, abnormal heartbeat after open-heart surgery, abnormally cold hands, painful sex and severe neck spasms.
In the case of depression, little is known about how Botox can help. One theory relates to facial feedback – the idea that our expressions influence our moods. Since Botox can make negative facial expressions impossible, depressed patients can feel better. Studies have shown about a 50 percent success rate with treating depression with Botox, and more research is necessary.
Where premature ejaculation is concerned, research has shown that injecting the penis with Botox can relax muscles and delay ejaculation. Allergan already has a patent for the use of Botox to treat some forms of erectile dysfunction.
One particularly interesting off-label use of Botox is in treating cleft lip scars left behind in babies who have their cleft lips closed. Botox injected into the scar can relax muscles and allow the area to heal in a position that will lead to a more natural smile and less scarring later.
And the story continues every day.
Medical professionals continue to find new uses for Botox, and scientists continue their research. But this much is certain: Botox is for much more than lines and wrinkles.
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