Botox®, cleared for medical use by the FDA in December 1989, just celebrated its 25 year anniversary! That’s 25 years with an incredible track record for the successful and safe smoothing of facial wrinkles in millions of patients. Research has revealed quite a few other interesting and helpful uses for Botox® besides wrinkles. To learn more about them, please see my Ezine article “Novel Uses for Botox®”.
Extensive research on Botox® continues through to the present day. As a result, in 2010 the FDA approved Botox® for the treatment of chronic, recurrent headaches and migraines.
Migraine headaches and other chronic headache syndromes affect about 1 in 10 people. That translates into about 45 million Americans with chronic, recurrent headaches of one form or another! 28 million, more than half, suffer from the dreaded so-called migraine headaches. Migraine headaches are about 3x more common in women, affecting nearly 20% of US women (and about 6% of US men).
There are many serious prescription medications written for every day for various types of headaches. These medications have side effects sometimes described by patients as worse than the headache itself! But even OTC pills can have some fairly dangerous side effects when used on a daily basis. And some medications are simply not a safe option for certain patients. But the worst part of this whole story is that many headaches, including migraines, are refractory to the “standard/traditional” treatments, leaving many patients without relief and feeling that “it’s hopeless”.
Botox® to the rescue! Amazingly, a very wide variety of headache syndromes respond quite well to Botox® therapy. And Botox® has a minimal side effect profile and almost no contraindications. So almost everyone is safe to get a Botox® treatment and almost everyone is likely to get a successful outcome, reducing both their headache intensity and frequency!
Usually within a day or two of treatment, patients will report a significant decrease in the severity of their headaches, followed by a significant decrease in the number of their headaches. Often, patients will find that their headaches completely disappear for months at a time!
Headache specialists such as neurologists have happily incorporated Botox® into their arsenal as a key weapon in this fight. They will map out “trigger points” and other special spots on the scalp, back of the head and neck, and even the shoulders as selected injection points. It is not unusual for these specialists to give 30 – 40 injections during one session to these special spots to try to help.
We have been using Botox® since it was approved 25 years ago in our cosmetic surgery practice. We love the smoothing and rejuvenating effects Botox® provides by eliminating frown lines, crow’s feet and forehead creases. But some 10 – 15% of our patients suffer from frequent headaches and migraines too. Over the years, we have found that our patients can expect a similar type of relief from their headaches when they are simply treated for the smoothing of their facial wrinkles alone! Patients experiencing a headache before arriving at our office have often told us that they can detect the headache disappearing within minutes of their treatment, even before leaving our office! Patients aware of trigger points on the scalp or elsewhere can point them out to us for special attention. Otherwise, the number of injection points usually amounts to only 4 or 5 key areas. Headache relief from a single treatment session can be expected to last 3 – 6 months. Cost is fairly nominal; typically in the $250 – $500 range.
Smooth the wrinkles and cure the headaches? It’s true! Botox® may be the closest thing there is to a headache or migraine cure for you. But you might as well look your best too! Talk to your doctor about it – and your local plastic surgeon as well!
A full list of product information, including side effects and contraindications to treatment with Botox® can be found at: http://www.botoxcosmetic.com/
Dr. Lyle Back is originally from New York City, receiving his medical and surgical training at Rutgers Medical School, Cooper Hospital – University Medical Center, and Ohio State. He is Board Certified in General Surgery (ABS) and Plastic Surgery (ABPS). He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS), and a longstanding member of the premier American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). He served as a Professor of Plastic Surgery at Temple University and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and performed reconstructive surgery with “Operation Smile” in Vietnam. He specializes in the full range of the most modern and state of the art facial cosmetic surgery procedures and non-surgical cosmetic enhancement techniques available today.