Over the years, Botox cosmetics has received a great deal of press in Hollywood and around the country for its ability to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. But recently, Botox’s medical benefits have been highlighted in several studies.One of Botox’s main manufacturers, Allergan, reports that more than half of the Botox it produces is used for non-cosmetic treatments, such as migraines and overactive bladder. Botox, or botulinum toxin A, is a toxin that works to paralyze muscles, stopping them from contracting. The injections essentially freeze the muscles that cause migraines, and can have similar results on bladder muscles.Allergan reports a sales increase of 17% for therapeutic Botox treatments in the last year, compared to only 8% for Botox cosmetics.
The study of Botox on overactive bladder was first conducted by director of neuro-urology at Oakland University-William Beaumont School of Medicine in Michigan, Dr. Michael Chancellor. Several overactive bladder patients were given a single Botox injection into a catheter, and Dr. Chancellor found that after a month, these patients experienced a decrease in their urgency to urinate.
In addition, another study revealed that patients who underwent surgery to correct their neurogenic bladder, a nerve condition that causes a lack of bladder control, could have been treated with Botox to experience similar relief.
Critics of Botox often claim that these injections are costly, and need to be administered several times to be effective. They also assert that healthcare dollars could be better spent on other treatments.
But even with the opposition, Allergan’s chief executive offer says that Botox’s uses will continue to expand. Last year, the company spent nearly a quarter of its $1.04 billion development and research budget on discovering various clinical uses of Botox.
One dermatologist, Dr. Eric Finzi, found that Botox could also be useful in treating clinical depression. Recently published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, the study found that 50% of the 74 patients injected with Botox reported that at least half of their symptoms were reduced just six weeks after the treatment.
While Botox for depression has not yet received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it has been approved for use on migraines, neurogenic bladder, and hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes excessive underarm sweating.
For now, Botox will likely remain popular for its cosmetic uses, but could gain repute in medical treatments as more research is conducted.
“Compared to many other procedures, Botox oftentimes is the treatment of choice for easy, non-surgical prolonged treatment (up to one year) for excessive sweating of the underarms and palms,” says Dr. Janis P. Campbell, Dermatologist at Laser Rejuvenation Clinic & Spa of Calgary. “We also use Botox to help an aging neck with fibrous bands or chicken neck appearance.”