New Year, New Uses For Botox

When most people think of Botox, the first thing that usually comes to mind is wrinkle reduction. Indeed, Botox 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 (crow’s feet), but that's not all. 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. John Zannis, M.D., is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in New Bern, NC, and here he shares a few unique benefits of Botox and additional concerns this incredible injectable can treat.

Acne

Botox can curb oil production, reducing breakouts. "To totally treat acne, you'd need to use doses of Botox so large they'd prevent you from constricting your facial muscles," says Zannis. "But tiny amounts of Botox injected very superficially help reduce oil production, and you can still have facial expressions." Though he'd recommend it for almost any patient struggling with acne, Zannis would likely advise trying another dermatologist-prescribed treatment, like spironolactone or birth control pills, first. And though it can technically be used to quell oil production anywhere on the face, he cautions against using it all over because of potential effects on muscular activity (a.k.a. frozen face). The most effective and common area for using Botox to curb oil production, he says, is the forehead.

 

Gummy smile (not FDA approved)

A "gummy" smile, or a smile that shows too much of the gums, usually results from the upper lip rising too far above the upper teeth when smiling. Injecting Botox into the upper lip weakens the upper lip's retractor muscles so that it won't raise as high and your smile will seem better-balanced. It can be done in about five minutes. Usually lasts for four to six months. Costs range from $200 to $300. "This technique is not for the novice Botox injector,” says Zannis. “Too much, and your lip won’t raise enough, too little and you will need more, or if injected asymmetrically, you might have a funny asymmetrical smile."

 

Urinary Incontinence

Overactive bladder problems affect up to 20 percent of women over 40. For severe cases where medications do not provide complete relief, Botox injections into the bladder wall may provide relief lasting about 6 months.

 

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is uncomfortable, itchy, and not exactly easy on the eyes. Luckily, this flaky skin condition could be a thing of the past thanks to Botox. Though psoriasis is technically incurable, Botox minimizes the activity of inflammatory cells that bring on outbreaks.

 

Excessive Sweating

For those who suffer from excessive sweating, however, summer isn’t always the sunniest time of the year. Thankfully, Botox could be a saving grace for those attempting to manage this condition, which is officially known as axillary hyperhidrosis. Studies show that just a handful of injections can reduce underarm sweat for up to two years.

 

Breast Lift

Are clients breasts in need of a pick-me-up? Instead of going under the knife and getting permanent augmentation, some experts have suggested a quick and easy Botox lift. “Those looking for a modest improvement are said to be able to temporarily plump their assets thanks to injections into the pectoralis minor chest muscle,” Zannis says.

 

Depression

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 though Botox is not approved to specifically treat depression.

 

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,” says Zannis. “Results last about four months. Botox is not yet approved to treat bruxism.”

 

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.

 

Brow Boost

Much like lines form over time, your brow may also drop or droop. Botox cosmetic treatments can also be used to improve the appearance of the brow. “The treatment essentially freezes the sagging muscles in place and gives the brow more stability,” says Zannis. “Lifting the brows in this way leaves you with a less tired and younger, fresher appearance.”

 

Jaw Reduction (off label use)

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.

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