What is Botox (Botulinum Toxin)?
Botox (BTX), or botulinum toxin type A, is an injectable treatment sourced from Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Although foodborne exposure to this substance causes botulism, a rare and potentially fatal illness marked by muscle paralysis, Botox injections exhibit therapeutic effects for a variety of ailments.
When injected into the muscles, Botox causes relaxation by inhibiting muscular contractions. This is achieved through the blocking of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter responsible for neuromuscular communication. By impeding this chemical’s release, impulses are not transferred between the nerves and the muscles, resulting in the obstruction of unwanted movement.
What is Botox used for?
Botox is a multifaceted injectable filler that may be used to treat a variety of medical concerns. Generally, these issues involve the involuntary, unwanted, or painful contraction of the muscles.
Botox may be used as a treatment for incontinence, which involves a sudden, uncontrollable need to urinate that may result in bladder leakage. This condition is also known as overactive bladder (OAB).
Injections with BTX relax the bladder muscles, preventing the sudden contractions that lead to incontinence. The effects of this treatment may last up to 8 months, although this may vary from patient to patient based on age and lifestyle.
BTX is also indicated for the treatment of incontinence caused by detrusor overactivity in patients with neurological conditions. As such, patients with multiple sclerosis, Parkinsonian syndrome, and spinal cord lesions may use this injectable solution to prevent leakage.
Botox may be used to prevent headaches in patients with chronic migraines. This constitutes individuals with 15 or more headache days per month that experience headaches for 4 hours a day or longer. Please note that for patients with episodic migraine (14 headache days or fewer per month), the safety and efficacy of BTX have not been established.
For the treatment of chronic migraine, botulinum toxin injections will be administered once every 12 weeks. It will take 2 treatments for physicians to determine whether the treatment is effective. Generally, these treatments will prevent 8 or 9 headache days per month.
For migraines, BTX should be injected intramuscularly into 7 different areas, including the corrugator, procerus, frontalis, temporalis, occipitalis, trapezius, and cervical paraspinal muscle groups. Each treatment session will take approximately 15 minutes.
Severe Axillary Hyperhidrosis
Botox may also be used for hyperhidrosis, an ailment characterised by excessive sweating in the underarms, palms, soles of the feet, scalp, or forehead. Generally, injections of this sort will reduce sweating for 6–12 months, with its effects being fully noticed 7–14 days after the initial treatment.
It is important to note that the safety and efficacy of this treatment have not been established for patients under the age of 18, or for treatment in areas other than those listed above. Prior to treatment, patients should also be evaluated for potential causes of secondary hyperhidrosis.
This injectable filler is also indicated for the treatment of both upper and lower limb spasticity. In the upper limbs, Botox may be used to decrease the severity of muscle tone in the thumb flexors, fingers, wrists, and elbows. In the lower limbs, botulinum toxin may be used to reduce increased muscle tone in the ankle and toe flexors. For these ailments, treatment should be tailored due to the size, number, and location of the muscle groups involved. The severity of the patient’s spasms and any muscular weakness should also be taken into account before beginning treatment.
Please note that the efficacy and safety of Botox have not been determined for other muscle groups in paediatric patients. BTX treatments should never act as a substitute for rehabilitation regimens, nor have they been shown to improve functional abilities or range of motion in affected areas.
Cervical dystonia, an ailment characterised by severe contractions of the neck muscles, may also be treated using Botox. Through injections into the affected muscles, BTX works to reduce the neck pain and abnormal head position associated with this disorder.
Treatment for cervical dystonia should occur no more than once every 3 months. Clinical improvement is generally observed within the first 2 weeks of injection.
Botox may be used to treat blepharospasm, a disorder comprised of involuntary spasms in the eye muscles. With this, uncontrolled closing, blinking, and narrowing of the eye may begin to reduce within the first 3 days after injection, with maximum results occurring 1–2 weeks post-injection.
The initial recommended dose is 25 units of Botox per eye. Treatment may occur no more than once every 3 months. If the initial treatment is deemed insufficient, dosages may be doubled. This treatment is safe and effective for individuals over the age of 12.
Strabismus, a visual issue in which the eyes are not aligned properly, may also be treated with Botox injections. During this procedure, botulinum toxin should be injected into the extraocular muscles using measurements of electrical activity to determine proper placement.
Generally, effects will be noticed 1–2 days post-injection, and should last for 2–6 weeks. This treatment is safe and effective for individuals over the age of 12.
Botox may also be injected intramuscularly to temporarily reduce the severity of glabellar lines, crow’s feet, and forehead lines in adults. Results of this treatment may last up to 4 months.
Side effects of botulinum toxin
While Botox is generally well received by most patients, some minor side effects have been known to occur post-injection. However, these are usually mild in nature, and should be resolved within a week of the procedure.
In order to avoid unwanted complications, only trained and certified medical professionals should inject BTX.
Please note that while Botox is safe for use in a variety of patients, certain individuals should not undergo BTX injections. This includes those who are allergic to any of this formula’s ingredients, those who have skin infections at the injection site, and those who are being treated for urinary incontinence and have a urinary tract infection. Additionally, individuals with neuromuscular disorders, muscular weakness, or who are pregnant or breastfeeding should take caution when using BTX.
Common side effects include:
- Reactions at the injection site, including swelling, bruising, bleeding, infection, or pain;
- Dry mouth;
- Neck pain or headache;
- And eye disorders.
Severe side effects include:
- The spread of toxin effects;
- Hypersensitivity or allergy;
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing;
- Muscle weakness;
- Blurred or double vision;
- Drooping eyelids;
- Difficulty speaking;
- And loss of control over the bladder.