1. Eases Migraines
If you’ve ever had a migraine, you’ll know how quickly they need to be subdued. Where other medications might have been insufficient, Botox might do the trick. “A series of small injections are made into specific locations on the head and scalp. Some patients have seen excellent results where other treatments have failed,” explains Dr Ross Perry, Botox specialist & Medical Director of CosmedicsUK. Botox is FDA-approved for chronic migraines – but they must be chronic, says Nurse Alice Jenkins at Harley Injectables: “This means headaches on 15 or more days a month – Botox is not recommended for patients who experience fewer than that.”
So how does it work? The Botox is injected around the pain fibres that are involved in headaches. “Botox enters the nerve endings around where it’s injected and blocks the release of chemicals involved in pain transmission, which prevents the activation of pain networks in the brain,” Alice explains. “Essentially, Botox prevents migraine headaches before they start, but it takes time to work – it can take up to six months to feel the full benefit, but patients who’d had two Botox treatments reported a reduction in headaches by approximately 50%.”. One treatment lasts for 10-12 weeks, and typically involves 31 injections in seven key areas of the head and neck (so expect some neck soreness), and you can continue your regular medications without the risk of a drug interaction.”
2. Manages Excessive Sweating
Medically known as hyperhidrosis, the most common form is found in the underarms or on the hands, feet and scalp. “For underarm sweating, patients have generally tried a whole range of strong and even prescription-strength antiperspirants, but still find they have abnormal levels of sweat, which can cause embarrassment and social discomfort,” says Dr Perry. “In these cases, BOTOX® injections are very successful and is generally far preferable to surgery.”
Normally, your nervous system activates your sweat glands when your body temperature rises, which is how your body cools itself down. People with hyperhidrosis, however, have overactive nerves that signal the sweat glands. “Botox works by temporarily blocking the nerves responsible, so when your nerves can’t signal your sweat glands, you don’t sweat,” says Alice. But it only prevents sweating in this specific area, so your body will still be able to regulate heat. Underarm Botox has proved highly effective, but not particularly long-lasting – 20 injections in each armpit can last anywhere between four and fourteen months.
3. Suppresses Acne
When it comes to fighting off persistent acne, there’s a whole range of products out there to stave off breakouts – and it could be that Botox is soon added to that list. “The sebaceous and sweat glands of the face are believed to be responsive to Botox,” says Harley Street aesthetic doctor, Dr David Jack. “In acne, there is an overproduction of sebum in the skin by these glands. A micro-dose of Botox directly into the superficial levels of the dermis has been shown to decrease this production and help dry out some cases of acne.”
However, Dr Perry wouldn’t recommend Botox as a go-to for treating acne: “Although some patients having Botox for cosmetic reasons do sometimes remark on the reduced pores, sweating and oiliness in the area, it certainly would not be the first choice of treatment – skin clinics now offer excellent laser and/or LED light therapies that would likely work better.”
4. Controls An Overactive Bladder
“From simple conditions like an overactive bladder to the treatment of severely spastic bladders from neurological diseases, Botox is a well-tolerated treatment,” Alice explains. “It can be injected with a short procedure at a clinic and results last between six to eight months, before needing to be re-injected.” Botox has been used to treat incontinence and bladder spasms – which commonly occurs in older women, those with neurologic diseases, or through injury – for years. “By injecting the wall in several points,” adds Dr Jack, “the hyperactive muscle that causes these kinds of issues can be relaxed.”
5. Decreases Excessive Drooling
This might not be one that many of us suffer from, but for those with overactive salivary glands, Botox can be a life-saver. “It can be used in tiny, controlled doses to relax excessive muscle contraction,” Alice tells us. “It acts on the nerves around the salivatory glands, reducing the amount of saliva reduced.”
This is a specialist treatment, and only used in severe cases, adds Dr Perry, “such as where drooling is the result of a neurological disorder and causes irritation for the patient.” The procedure is completed with a direct injection into the saliva glands via ultrasound and will last for three to six months before needing a top-up.
6. Corrects Crossed Eyes
“Crossed eyes are usually caused by asymmetric levels of activity in the muscles moving the eyeball,” explains Dr Jack. “By carefully injecting doses of Botox, it’s possible to balance the muscle pull of the eye movement muscles, crossed eyes – AKA, strabismus – can be corrected.”
If the thought of having Botox injected into your eyeball makes you feel queasy, don’t worry – your eye will be numbed using eye drops first. “Once the needle is assumed to be in the correct position, the patient will then be asked to blink, and a small amount of Botox will be injected into the eye. Children will be placed under anaesthetic to avoid putting added stress on them. This is a procedure that should only ever be performed by an ophthalmologist, and Dr Perry notes that while this only tends to be used in severe cases, “there are no real alternatives” for this issue.