We’ve all heard of Botox and its ability to reduce lines and wrinkles, and while it’s great at doing exactly that, that’s not the only thing this amazing substance can do.
Before we go into the different ways Botox can be used, it’s worth noting that Botox is actually a brand of botulinum toxin (think Kleenex/ tissue or Hoover/ vacuum cleaner and you get the picture), a type of neurotoxin used in tiny doses to temporarily paralyse muscles. In large doses, botulinum toxin is deadly, but in small amounts, it makes a fantastic treatment.
So, now we understand the science-y bit, let’s have a look at the incredible ways this toxin and other types of botulinum toxin are used.
About 1 billion people globally suffer with migraines (me included), and for anyone who does, you know how brutal they can be. Far from just a headache, they can include vomiting, disturbed vision and sensitivity to light, smell and sound. While over the counter medication doesn’t work for everyone, when it comes to migraines, often the only thing that helps is to lie in a dark room.
But for people with chronic migraines (for 15 days or more a month), the FDA has, in recent years, deemed Botox to be a great solution. To treat chronic migraines, a medically qualified practitioner injects botulinum toxin into the forehead and neck to target the affected area. The botulinum toxin then acts by stopping neurotransmitters from sending pain signals from the brain. Wrinkle relaxing works for migraines! Who knew? Pretty amazing, huh?
2) Cervical dystonia
Cervical dystonia (sometimes referred to as spasmodic torticollis), is a neurological disorder that results in abnormal neck movements. It affects around 18,000 people in the UK, and can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
Recently though, the FDA has approved botulinum toxin for cervical dystonia to help reduce its effects. The substance is injected into the affected muscles in the neck, and works by blocking the chemical messenger that causes the muscles to contract. This results in reduced spasms, and in some cases no spasms at all. Pretty impressive!
The temporomandibular joint (often referred to simply as TMJ) is the joint linking the jaw bone and skull together. People often experience pain around this area, as well as discomfort, or a clicking sensation. And the pain isn’t only limited to the jaw - it can lead to headaches and neck pain too.
TMJ is often associated with grinding teeth, namely due to stress. Because it can lead to chronic pain, nowadays, botulinum toxin can be used to relieve TMJ - or more appropriately TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder). Botulinum toxin is injected into the affected area to relieve pain and reduce swelling, which can lead to huge relief in TMJ/ TMD sufferers. Not only this but it is also used for jaw slimming. Constant clenching of the jaw can lead to excessively large masseter muscles, which makes the jawline appear square and larger than desired. Masseter injections slims down the area to create a sleeker looking jawline.
4) ‘Gummy smile’
Excessive gingival, more commonly known as a gummy smile, is where the gums are more visible than usual while smiling. This is often down to excessive gum tissue or a shorter upper lip.
However, using the same medicine used for wrinkle relaxing can effectively treat a gummy smile as it reduces excessive lip elevation. It is injected into the part of the lip that lifts while smiling, ensuring gums are less exposed. Now that’s something to smile about!
5) Excessive sweating
We all sweat when it gets hot or we do intense exercise, but for some people excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) is a problem. This is a condition that causes people to sweat through their clothes, even when they are not active.
There is no known cause for hyperhidrosis, but the FDA has approved underarm toxin injections as an effective treatment. Botulinum toxin is injected into the affected area, i.e. the underarms or palms, and the toxin blocks the nerves that over activate the sweat glands, leading to less perspiration. So you can really wave your arms in the air like you just don’t care!
6) Overactive bladder
There are various causes of overactive bladder problems, where there is an increased urgency to urinate, such as diabetes or certain neurological disorders.
Doctors will often offer a range of tablets to treat the issue, but if these fail to work, many suggest Botox. This treatment isn’t quite as simple as the others listed above, as it involves inserting a cystoscope and camera into the bladder before injections are made into the wall of the bladder. It is also one of the only forms of botulinum toxin treatment that requires anaesthetic. But the treatment itself takes just minutes. Great stuff!
7) Uncontrollable blinking
We all get a twitchy eye from time to time - often due to tiredness or too much caffeine, but for some, uncontrollable blinking (medically known as blepharospasm) is frustrating, uncomfortable and sometimes painful.
Botulinum toxin injections can be used to treat excessive blinking. By injecting botulinum toxin into the eyelids, the muscles are temporarily weakened, reducing the effects of blepharospasm.
8) Stabusmus (crossed eyes)
Crossed eyes (strabismus) affects around 4% of adults in the UK, and treatments include wearing glasses, prisms, muscle surgery and sight therapy, but one treatment that has recently become FDA-approved is botulinum toxin.
To treat crossed eyes, botulinum toxin is injected into the eye muscle, once anaesthetic has been applied (phew!), and left in for 30 seconds, helping the medicine to spread to the necessary areas. The effects can take up to around 4 days and generally last about 3 months.
So, there you have it - botulinum toxin works wonders on more than just forehead lines. It’s an FDA-approved, multipurpose super-treatment! Of course, there are several things to consider and be aware of before having treatment, so it’s worth checking out our handy treatment guide, and making sure you always book an appointment with a medically qualified professional.
You can now find medically qualified practitioners in your area offering aesthetic treatments on Glowday. Search now for your new favourite aesthetic pro!
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