The Many Surprising Uses of Botox
When most people think of Botox the first thing that usually comes to mind is wrinkle reduction. Indeed, Botox (technically called onabotulinumtoxinA) is the world’s most popular treatment for eradicating wrinkles and fine lines. The toxin is specifically FDA approved for treating frown lines between the eyebrows (glabellar lines) and lines around the eyes (crows feet).
In addition to being the gold standard for wrinkle reduction, Botox can also be used to treat a variety of issues, both cosmetic and non-cosmetic. Below is a list of conditions that Botox has been used to treat.
Other FDA Approved or Indicated Uses of Botox:
- Eyelid Spasms – The first use of Botox that was approved by the FDA (in 1989) was for the treatment of certain types of eye muscle problems or abnormal spasm of the eyelids (blepharospasm) in people 12 years and older.
- Excessive Sweating – Botox is a temporary treatment option for sufferers of hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating. Botox is injected into the sweat glands just under the skin to temporarily block the chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands. Botox prevents unnecessary sweating for an average period of six to seven months.
- Migraines – In 2013, Botox received FDA approval for the treatment of migraine headaches. The treatment involves the injection of Botox into seven different locations including the temples, neck, shoulders, and forehead. Clinical testing has indicated that Botox dramatically lowers the instance of migraines even in the most severe cases. While the medical community does not know exactly how Botox eases migraine symptoms, the most popular theory is that it prevents pain signals from reaching nerve endings.
- Chronic Neck and Cervical Muscle Pain – A 2012 study showed that Botox injections significantly improved pain levels and overall quality of life for sufferers of chronic neck pain that happens with cervical dystonia (CD). When Botox was injected into target muscles it blocked signals that caused unnecessary muscle tightening; the causation of chronic pain. Botox was shown to ease pain without the prolonged side effects of other treatment options.
- Overactive Bladder – Botox is often used to treat several incontinence and overactive bladder symptoms in adults over 18 years of age when other types of medications do not work or cannot be taken. Specific symptoms may include a strong need to urinate with leaking or wetting accidents, a strong need to urinate right away, and frequent need to urinate.
- Muscle Stiffness – Botox is used to treat increased muscle stiffness in elbow, wrist, and finger muscles in people 18 years and older with upper limb spasticity.
Off-Label Uses of Botox:
Note that Botox is not FDA approved or indicated for the issues below, but that some physicians do treat with off-label use of the product.
- Eyebrow Lift – Botox can provide a quick and less dramatic version of the popular brow lift surgical procedure. A small amount of Botox is injected into the muscles responsible for pulling the eyebrows down. As these muscles become weakened, the eyebrows become lifted, thus elevating the brow.
- Gummy Smiles – The “gummy smile” occurs when the upper lip is excessively elevated showing off a large portion of the gums when smiling. Injecting Botox into the upper lip weakens the retractor muscles, lowering the lip line to produce a more aesthetically balanced smile.
- Jaw Reduction – Botox can be used to perform jaw reduction (commonly called jaw line softening). Injecting Botox into the masseter muscle (the primary muscle used in chewing actions) reduces its overall size; transforming an overly square and masculine appearing jawline into a more feminine oval or heart shape.
- Jaw Tension, Lock Jaw, and TMJ Disorder – Experimental-stage research has shown Botox to be effective in treating a variety of jaw disorders including severe tension, TMJ Disorder, and lock jaw. When injected into the jaw Botox relaxes the facial muscles; both reducing occurrences and minimizing symptoms.
- Depression – Early testing has shown that a single instance of Botox injection can serve as an effective treatment for depression. Researchers in Germany linked the functioning with facial muscles to emotional well-being. At a press conference for the 2014 American Psychiatric Association annual meeting study researcher Tillmann Kruger said “Our emotions are expressed by facial muscles, which in turn send feedback signals to the brain to reinforce those emotions. Treating facial muscles with botulinum toxin interrupts this cycle.”