Botox® is an amazing drug! In a previous post, I reviewed how I use Botox® not only for softening facial wrinkles but also for the treatment of facial nerve problems and headaches.
Botox® works by interfering with how nerves talk to their targets. In the case of cosmetic Botox®, we interfere with nerves talking to the muscles of your forehead and around your eyes. But this same mechanism makes it useful for many other things! Today I’m reviewing how I use Botox® for things that have nothing to do with your facial muscles.
Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ is often caused by excessive tooth grinding or jaw clenching, particularly during sleep. Front line treatments include anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen and obtaining a bite guard from a dentist. However, these simple measures don’t work for everyone. We can use medical Botox® to weaken the muscles of chewing and decrease the pressure generated by clenching your teeth. We don’t use so much so that you can’t chew; we only use just enough to spare the wear and tear on your jaw joints. Usually the effect lasts for about three months.
Some people have an embarrassing disorder where they create too much saliva. The disorder is called sialorrhea. It tends to be associated with other neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease. We can inject medical Botox® into the salivary glands to block the nerves responsible for the excess salivation. The effect can last for three to six months, but we use the patient’s symptoms as a guide for when to treat again.
Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) is equally embarrassing. Medical Botox® can be used in the skin of the palms or the armpits to help reduce sweating. The effect can last for a year or more!
In Asia, doctors have explored several treatments to contour the jawline and create a more elliptical facial shape. Surgery to reduce the muscle and bone at the angle of the mandible is a popular option in China and Korea. Botox® injections offer a less invasive approach to gradually decrease the volume of muscle in the lower face and create a softer facial shape. Usually several treatments are needed over the first few months to make the muscle shrink, but the desired effect can last six to eight months once it is achieved.
We routinely use a larger volume of Botox® for facial contouring and sweat control than for reducing the appearance of facial lines, but these treatments are still very safe and effective. While medical insurance will not cover Botox® for facial contouring or facial wrinkles, frequently it will cover some of the cost for excessive salivation or sweating if certain conditions are met. Your insurance company’s website usually has information about their coverage of medical Botox®. Authorization is often required from your insurance company BEFORE we do the treatment, so we won’t be able to do the treatment on the day of your first visit. If you are not interested in insurance coverage for medical Botox® or are seeking cosmetic Botox®, we can almost always treat you on the day of your first visit.