3 Surprising Things Botox Can Help With

Think Botox is only good for smoothing out wrinkles? You may be surprised to learn that Botox can help with other medical conditions as well. In fact, Botox has been approved by the FDA for conditions ranging from chronic migraines to overactive bladders and crossed-eyes.

“When injected, Botox temporarily prevents a muscle from moving by blocking signals from the nerves to the muscles. This mechanism can be used to treat more than just wrinkles and crow’s feet,” said Dr. J. Ryan Rice, Plastic Surgeon at Penn Highlands Healthcare. The following are three conditions that doctors may consider using Botox as part of a treatment plan.

Chronic Migraines
Botox has been an FDA-approved treatment of chronic migraines for over a decade. A Beverly Hills plastic surgeon first noticed in 1992 that his clients who received Botox for wrinkles subsequently experienced fewer headaches. This shouldn’t be a complete surprise. In fact, this type of accidental discovery is how other treatments for chronic migraines have been discovered as well, including anti-depressants, anti-seizure, and anti-blood pressure medications, all of which are now prescribed to treat migraines.

Scientists think that Botox blocks chemicals called neurotransmitters, which carry pain signals to your brain. Botox stops those chemicals before they reach the nerve endings in your head and neck. While some doctors question whether the reduction in migraines is a result of Botox or a placebo effect, the results are the same: patients have fewer migraines. Treatment for chronic migraines using Botox injections in various spots on the head and neck can last for around three months.

Underarm Sweating
Botox is also an FDA-approved treatment for excessive underarm sweating. In this case, doctors who used Botox to treat facial spasms discovered that patients started to sweat less as well, causing scientists to study the effects of Botox on a condition called hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). In 2004, it was approved by the FDA.

Like chronic migraines, Botox reduces excessive sweating by blocking neurotransmitters that activate the sweat glands in the area of injection. According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, Botox injections can reduce underarm sweating by up to 87%, and the effects typically last 4 to 12 months. As of now, the FDA has only approved Botox for underarm sweating, though doctors may prescribe Botox for excessive sweating of the hands, feet or face.

Though the FDA has not approved Botox for the treatment of depression yet, early trials suggest that it may alleviate symptoms of depression. A 2014 study of 74 people with major depressive order found that 52% of participants who received Botox experienced a reduction in symptoms after six weeks, compared with 15% of participants given a placebo.

The mechanism behind the effect is still unknown. Scientists are studying the effect of Botox on the facial feedback hypothesis, which proposes that a person’s facial expressions can influence their mood. By blocking the frowning muscles in the face, Botox may result in improved mood. Scientists are also studying whether Botox effects the regions of the central nervous system involved in mood and emotions, as well as the effect of Botox on other underlying conditions that may contribute to depression. Clinical trials are currently underway.

If you’re interested in learning more about Botox, always speak to your primary care provider first. Botox should be administered in small amounts by a licensed professional. Penn Highlands Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery offers Botox at locations in DuBois, Philipsburg, and St. Marys. For more information, visit www.phhealthcare.org/plastic.

At Penn Highlands Huntingdon, Dr. Kara Kimberly, an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, offers Botox Treatments to help with medical treatments versus cosmetic treatments. For more information about these services, you can visit www.phhealthcare.org/ent