How Botox is Being Used for So Much More than Wrinkles

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This is a guest post, courtesy of Dr. Craig Crippen from DermMedica.

Botox injections are best known as a treatment for reducing wrinkles. However, ever since Botox was first approved as a legitimate drug three decades ago, further research and studies have revealed that it can be used to treat other conditions. Here are just some of the new ways that Botox is being used to bring relief to more people than ever before…

Decreasing Migraines Symptoms

Around 20 years ago, doctors who administered Botox treatments for wrinkles started noticing that their clients reported fewer headaches and less painful migraines. After tests were done that determined that Botox helped people suffering from chronic migraines, it was approved by the FDA for chronic migraine disorder in 2010. Botox treatments for migraines are injected into different points along the head and neck, with reported relief lasting around three months. Research studies are still looking into precisely why Botox helps treat migraines.

Reducing Excessive Sweating

In 2004, the FDA approved Botox treatments to help reduce excessive sweating in the underarms, hands, feet, and hairline caused by axillary hyperhidrosis. The Botox blocks or reduces the signals sent to nerves and sweat glands and has had significantly positive reports from some people with the condition. It’s injected directly in the area where the excessive sweating occurs, with effects that can last up to a few months.

Improving Bladder Control

At least two studies looking into the effects of Botox treatments on treating urinary incontinence has shown that injections to the bladder can help increase bladder control. Since then, it has been used as one of the most effective treatments for overactive bladders for reducing symptoms and improving quality of life. Patients in the study received only a few injections to their bladders per year over 2-3 years. The treatment was found to have an especially positive impact on women with bladder control issues.

Curing Twitching or Crossed Eyes

Many people don’t realize that Botox was initially developed and tested to help people who were cross-eyed and chronic eye twitching. It has long been used as an FDA-approved treatment for people with strabismus and to help relax muscles around the eyes to help relieve eye twitching.

Reducing Muscle Spasms

After eye twitching was treated successfully, further research was done into the effects Botox has as a general muscle relaxant to cure muscle spasms. Botox has been found to block nerve signals in the injected area to relax the muscles and alleviate some chronic pain symptoms. It has been an FDA approved treatment for muscle spasms since before it was approved as an anti-wrinkle treatment, and is most commonly used to treat pain in neck muscles.

Reducing Acne

A more recent use of Botox injections is to help treat acne by reducing the skin’s excessive oil production. It works in a similar way to reducing sweat — by blocking the signals sent to the skin’s oil production glands. Botox injections have been shown to be an inconsistent treatment for acne, depending on the specific person and the specific area of your body where it was applied. It seems to work best to reduce oil production in the forehead, as any other part of the body either requires too much of a dose to be effective or carries larger risks of adverse side effects.

Relieving Depression & Anxiety Symptoms

A number of research trials and studies are still underway to test whether Botox can be used to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. The theory that it can is tied to the psychological concept that facial expression can have an impact on mood — if you feel depressed but make yourself smile, it helps you actually feel better even if the smile starts out as fake. So the idea is that Botox injections in applied to the face can make it more relaxed and calm, and that will help patients feel more relaxed and calm too. There are positive early results that seem to indicate that it might actually work for some people, but as they are still ongoing, it has yet to receive FDA approval.