11 Surprising Uses for Botox®
Sure, we all know that Botox® can help get rid of crow's feet and frown lines, but that's not all the popular wonder-toxin can do. Botulinum toxin has a host of other uses some approved, some experimental that just may surprise you. The following are 11 surprising uses for Botox®.*
(*There are currently three types of botulinum toxin type A on the market, but Allergan's Botox® Cosmetic has the lion's share of approvals and is funding much of the research looking for alternative uses.)
1: Severe Sweating
If you are embarrassed by excessive underarm sweating and constantly have to change your shirt, Botox® can help. Botox® is FDA-approved to treat severe armpit perspiration. The good news is that it lasts longer than most antiperspirants, but unfortunately it's not permanent. Sweat-curbing effects kick in after one week and can last up to seven months. Some doctors also use Botox® "off-label" to treat sweaty palms and feet.
The benefits of Botox® may be more than skin deep; two recent studies suggest that it may help alleviate the symptoms of depression. In a study published in the May 2014 issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research, more than half of participants who had moderate-to-severe depression showed a substantial improvement in depressive symptoms following one injection of Botox® between the brows. This improvement lasts longer than the cosmetic effects, suggesting that the effect may be more than just feeling better about your appearance. Botox® is not approved to treat depression.
3: Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
Injections of Botox® were used to control involuntary muscle tension and spasms long before it became the go-to wrinkle buster. These neurotoxin injections may weaken the chewing muscles enough to reduce bruxism (teeth grinding) without affecting your ability to chew, talk and smile. Results last about four months. Botox® is not yet approved to treat bruxism.
4: Leaky Bladder
By Creator:Tombe [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
One shot of Botox® to the bladder works as well as daily medication for reducing episodes of urinary incontinence, and is more effective in completely resolving symptoms, according to a study published in the October 4, 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Injections of Botox® to the bladder are currently approved by the FDA for urinary incontinence resulting from spinal cord or other neurological injuries, but are also often used off-label for overactive bladder, a condition that affects one in five adults over age 40, according to the National Association for Continence.
5: MS-related Hand Tremor
Australian researchers report that a shot of Botox® can ease hand tremors and improve writing ability among people with multiple sclerosis (MS)-related hand and arm tremors, which affect up to two-thirds of people with MS. In the study, the treatment eased tremors and improved patients' writing ability. Right now, there's no good way to treat MS arm tremor. The toxin is already approved to treat bladder issues associated with MS.
6: Migraine Headache
Botox® is approved by the FDA to treat chronic migraine headaches in adults who have 15 or more headache-days a month, each lasting four hours or more. Studies that led to this indication show that BOTOX®® prevents up to nine headache-days a month (vs seven for dummy injections). Other research hints that the neurotoxin may also help with low cerebrospinal fluid headaches and cluster or "suicide" headaches. A team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in collaboration with St. Olavs Hospital showed that Botox® provided pain relief for up to eight months among people who had cluster headaches.
7: Premature Ejaculation
Premature ejaculation is a common condition among men aged 18 to 40. Botox® injections may help control the muscle spasms that cause this condition, and Botox® manufacturer Allergan is currently studying how. The theory is that the muscles involved in ejaculation may be over-active. Botox® can act as a muscle relaxant and is known to be effective in treating muscle spasms, so it's not too far of a leap. (Botox is already approved to treat cervical dystonia, or muscle spasms of the neck and shoulder.) The study results should be available in July 2015.
8: Knee Arthritis
Botox® may decrease the pain of knee osteoarthritis and potentially prevent or forestall knee replacement surgery. Researchers from Minneapolis found that injecting Botox® directly into the knee joint relieved pain and improved function among people with severe knee osteoarthritis after one month.
9: Blinking and Crossed Eyes
Botox® is FDA approved to treat blepharospasm, or uncontrollable blinking, as well as trabismus (misaligned or crossed eyes). It's not a cure, however; the effects will last a few months.
10: Risk of Common Abnormal Heart Rhythm Following Heart Surgery
By Mikael Häggström, via Wikimedia Commons
As many as 40 percent of people who have open-heart surgery will develop atrial fibrillation (AF), an abnormal heart rhythm that increases risk of stroke and heart failure. Injecting botulinum toxin into the heart’s fat pads during surgery may eliminate this risk during the immediate high-risk period and for up to a year thereafter. The Botox blocks the nerve signals that tell muscles to contract, causing AF.
The findings were published in the journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.
11: Breast Expansion-Related Pain Following Mastectomy
Botox injections may stave off expansion-related pain and decrease the time-to-expansion among women undergoing two-stage breast reconstruction, a new pilot study suggests. Botulinum toxin type A injections temporarily paralyze the muscle, decreasing muscle spasms and contraction, and in doing so, decrease the time needed for expansion. Many women report that tissue expansion is extremely painful, and this is why it takes them longer to complete their regimen. The findings appear in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.
Is Botox Right for you?
Botox is consistently one of the top five nonsurgical cosmetic procedures performed each year. Is it right for you?
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