In the 30 years that BOTOX® has been around, physicians have continued to find new clinical uses for injectable neurotoxins, which relax muscle contractions by blocking incoming nerve signals. While BOTOX is most well known as a treatment for stopping wrinkles at the source, there are many more uses for BOTOX, some of which are FDA-cleared. Here are some Botox treatments you might not have known about:
- Curb excessive sweating. Patients diagnosed with hyperhidrosis sweat even if they’re not hot or physically exerting themselves. BOTOX blocks the nerve signals that trigger the sweating, usually in the palms of the hands.
- Treat chronic migraines. While there is no permanent cure for chronic migraines, a series of precise BOTOX injections every 3-6 months helps to prevent them.
- Help with bladder control. Physicians can inject BOTOX into the muscles that control the bladder to help with urinary incontinence.
- Reduce muscle spasms. Patients with disorders like cervical dystonia, which affects the muscles in the neck, are unable to control the movements of certain muscle groups. Injected properly, BOTOX can reduce these spasms.
Off-Label Cosmetic Uses for BOTOX
While the FDA has approved BOTOX for the above uses, there are other ways it is used “off-label” with varying degrees of success:
Reshape the lips
In a technique called the “lip flip,” BOTOX is injected in the orbicularis oris muscle above the top lip. This allows the lip to relax and curve into what will supposedly be a poutier shape. While this is an interesting use for BOTOX, enhancing the lips with dermal fillers is generally safer and more effective. There are a couple of reasons for this—first, unlike neurotoxins, lip fillers add volume to the lips and reduce the appearance of fine lines around the mouth. Secondly, injecting neurotoxins in the lip area requires great skill (you don’t want to end up with partially paralyzed lips). As such, you should only try a BOTOX lip flip with a board certified plastic surgeon who has full knowledge of facial anatomy and is well-versed in the procedure.
Smooth vertical lines in the neck
Platysma bands, or vertical neck lines associated with aging or weight loss, are a common source of frustration among women. When you clench your teeth, you can feel these muscles tighten in your neck. Before going for a full face-lift, you may want to ask your provider about BOTOX to relax the muscles that cause the lines, since this procedure requires no downtime.
Helpful Side Effects from BOTOX
Physicians and patients may realize that another issue they deal with seems to be treated by their BOTOX. This fuels off-label use of BOTOX for other common frustrations:
Alleviate symptoms of TMJ
This off-label use was discovered by accident when doctors began using BOTOX to slim the jawline. By injecting into the strong masseter muscle, which is used for chewing, BOTOX relaxes the muscle and helps with TMJ symptoms like teeth grinding.
A recent study of 40,000 patients found that those being treated with botulinum toxin were less likely to experience depression.
Reduce hairline sweating to make blowouts last longer
Forehead wrinkle patients found that their hair remained styled longer because the BOTOX prevented hairline sweating—just another happy accident.
Looking to the Future: Could BOTOX treat depression?
Now for the big question: what about depression? New findings suggest, as previous studies have, that BOTOX may alleviate depression as a side effect. A recent study looked at over 40,000 patient cases and found that those patients being treated with botulinum toxin were less likely to experience depression. Here’s what you need to know:
- The patients in the study were being treated for ailments other than depression, like muscle spasms, wrinkles, and migraines.
- The study considered both patients who were being treated with botulinum toxin injections, like BOTOX, and those who were being treated with another therapy.
- An existing hypothesis suggests that injecting BOTOX to treat wrinkles between the eyebrows reduced depression by preventing patients from frowning. But in this study, neurotoxin was injected in many different areas.
- This seems to confirm that botulinum toxin, injected in many different areas in different amounts, may reduce depression.
- There may be other reasons that botulinum toxin has antidepressant side effects, such as the pleasure a patient takes in receiving treatment for their original condition.
- Besides (1) reducing frowning and (2) treating the patient’s primary concern, there may be other mechanisms by which BOTOX reduces depression. More clinical trials will be necessary to gain a better understanding.
While this isn’t enough information to start prescribing BOTOX for depression, it is a pleasant finding for the many patients who already use BOTOX. And who knows: as time and science progress, you just may be getting a prescription from your therapist for a visit to your plastic surgeon’s office.
Schedule Your Consultation
At Hess Plastic Surgery, we offer a range of injectables, including Dysport and Xeomin, which are injectable neurotoxins that work much the same way as BOTOX but with a slightly different formula. At your consultation, we decide which injectable is right for your needs based on your desired outcome and our experience with your desired procedure. To discuss your goals with Dr. Hess and our expert plastic surgery team in Fairfax, please call us at (703) 752-6608 or contact us online.