Health&Fitness Talk

Supporting Healthy Life Styles

Botox – For More Than Just Wrinkles Botox – For More Than Just Wrinkles
by Kimberly Allen, RN The first thing many people think of when they hear the word Botox is wrinkles.  Face it, Botox is a... Botox – For More Than Just Wrinkles

by Kimberly Allen, RN

The first thing many people think of when they hear the word Botox is wrinkles.  Face it, Botox is a $1.77 billion a year drug and a significant percentage of that is from the cosmetic industry.  Since it was approved by the FDA for cosmetic use in 2002 it has become one of the biggest “cash cow’s” in the cosmetic industry bringing in $475 million for the makers of Botox, Allergen’s, in just the fourth quarter last yr.  However, that’s about to change.  Botox has been around much longer and is used to treat several medical conditions.

Botox was first approved by the FDA in 1989 to treat uncontrollable blinking or blepharospasm and since that time the maker of Botox, Allergen, has completed approximately 29 million treatment sessions in clinical trials evaluating around 15,000 patients over the past 30 years.  Earlier this year, Botox was approved to treat over-active bladder symptoms, including urgency and frequency of urination as well as leaking and urinary incontinence in adults over 18 years of age that are either unable to tolerate or do not respond to conventional treatment.

botox injections

Botox injections are used by doctors for a variety of ailments, not just plastic surgery. Botox, among other things, has been approved to treat over-active bladder.

Another condition that Botox has been effective in treating is chronic migraines.  In the US alone over 3 million people suffer from chronic migraines.  Severe migraines not only significantly impact the quality of life for the sufferer it also has a significant social and economic impact as well.  In fact a study that was featured in the journal Neurology in 2008 stated that “chronic migraine sufferers are more likely to miss five or more days of school, work and social activities over a 3 month period.”  If you suffer from severe migraines at least 15 days a month that last longer than 4 hours you qualify for Botox in the US as well as 55 other countries.

Botox has also been effective in treating a number of other conditions including a condition called cervical dystonia in patients 16 years of age and older. This is a condition in which your neck muscles contract involuntarily which in turn causes your head to twist and turn, and it can be very painful.  Botox has also been effective in relaxing muscle contractures like those in cerebral palsy in people 18 years of age and older.  If you are 18 years of age or older and you suffer from a condition called hyperhidrosis, also known as excessive sweating, and topical medicines don’t work for you Botox can be injected into your skin to treat your severe underarm sweating.

So what is Botox?  It is a purified protein created from the bacteria Clostridium botolinum.  Botox works by blocking signals that are sent to the muscle telling it to contract.  This reduces and can even stop muscle spasms providing relief for as long as 3 months.

Though Botox has been proven relatively safe when performed by an experienced physician there can be some side effects including swelling and/or bruising around the injection site as well as headaches and flu-like symptoms.  However, if the injections are not correctly placed the Botox can spread to surrounding tissues causing problems.  Though it is highly unlikely the botulinum toxin can spread to other areas in your body causing symptoms similar to botulism anytime from hours to weeks after the injections.  If you notice you are having problems speaking, swallowing or breathing you should contact your doctor immediately.  Other symptoms you may notice is general muscle weakness through out your body, problems with your vision and loss of bladder function.

The best way to prevent any problems with Botox is to research and choose a doctor that is experienced in the administration of Botox treatments.  Botox is a prescription medication only  and should not be purchased with out one.  Botox should only be administered by a properly trained and skilled health care provider.  Botox is not recommended for use in women that are pregnant or nursing.

Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at