Botox has a long history of accidental discovery. First used by ophthalmologists to relax strabismus or crossed eyes, Botox’s cosmetic potential began as an unexpected side effect. Cue a revolution in aesthetic treatment! It shouldn’t surprise us then that Botox is increasingly being used in further unexpected ways. Here are just a few:
Botox has been approved for the treatment of chronic migraines since 2010. Migraines typically involve intense and localised headaches along with increased sensitivity and nausea. Interestingly, Botox has only proven to be effective in chronic cases – where 14 or more migraines occur over a month. In these instances, Botox injected into the head and neck every three months can sometimes prevent the onset of migraines altogether – alleviating a seriously disabling condition. Research continues into why other headaches and related disorders fail to respond in the same way.
Hyperhidrodis is excessive sweating, typically underarm. While it sounds unpleasant it can be a severely distressing condition for sufferers – and Botox has offered relief where non existed before. Tiny doses are injected across the area and can yield an improvement of almost 90%. The eccrine glands responsible for sweat production are essentially disabled as Botox temporarily impairs their nerve supply. Hyperhidrosis targeted Botox typically lasts for about twelve months – but a yearly top up is a small price to pay for a significantly improved quality of life.
Botox can minimise incontinence in women. It’s thought that up to 25% of women over 65 deal with urinary incontinence. Studies have shown that administering Botox can be more effective than current treatments, with success rates of around 75% (at present a device can be implanted surgically in an invasive procedure). Botox injections, while necessarily repeated, have no long term negative effects and can be used to address a range of issues, from an overactive bladder to severe bladder problems relating to neurological disorders.
As an effective nerve-blocker, Botox can be used as a localised muscle relaxant. Involuntary muscle spasms throughout the body, but particularly in the eyelids, face and neck can be effectively targeted with regular Botox treatment. By interfering with the neural connections between brain and muscle, Botox can prevent a specific muscle from contracting – relaxing the area and ending a spasm cycle. Repeated injections are required.
The ‘Gummy Smile’
Botox can be used in the pursuit of the perfect smile – specifically by reducing the amount of gum tissue visible above the teeth, known as the ‘Gummy Smile.’ With small injections into muscle tissue at the left and right of the mouth Botox can relax the muscle which raises the upper lip, thereby minimising the amount of gum exposure. In the past a gingivectomy was the only solution to this aesthetic concern, an extremely invasive procedure involving gum tissue removal. The repeat rate in this case is high, Botox injections are required every two to three months – but still a welcome alternative to major surgery.