Botox® is an amazing drug! If you’re reading this, you’re undoubtedly aware that we use it to help soften facial wrinkles.
When properly applied, it also can achieve a small amount of brow lifting which can dramatically improve the appearance of your eyes.
After Botox! Notice the subtle improvement in the heaviness around her eyes!
But Botox® has lots of other uses as well! In fact, we used it for non-cosmetic treatments for years before we realized it would help with facial lines. When we use Botox® for non-cosmetic purposes, we refer to it as “medical Botox®”.
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! In this post, we’re going to discuss other ways that I use medical Botox® on your facial muscles. In a future post, we’re going to discuss ways that I use Medical Botox® for things that have nothing to do with your facial muscles.
Medical Botox® can be used in the rehabilitation of facial paralysis. Bell’s palsy is a disorder where the nerve that controls your face temporarily stops working. We don’t know exactly why it happens, but a viral infection is thought to play a role. Other reasons you may have facial weakness include head trauma or salivary gland surgery. As the nerve function returns, it may not return all the way. In cases where the function hasn’t returned completely, Medical Botox® can be used to weaken muscles on the good side, enhancing facial symmetry. Medical Botox® can also be beneficial for patients experiencing painful spasms of their facial muscles. Botox® can reduce the spasms. Usually the effect lasts for three months or so before the treatment needs to be repeated.
A patient with right sided facial weakness following facial surgery by another provider.
After Botox on the left and filler to the right cheek. Notice the improvement in symmetry around her mouth!
Medical Botox® can also be useful for treating migraines and tension headaches. Many of the muscles we target are the same ones used in cosmetic treatments, but we may also treat muscles on the back of the head and neck. The thought is that these muscles squeeze your skull during a headache, kind of like putting it in a vice. If you weaken the muscles, the vice isn’t as strong, so your headaches go away! Check out my own experience with Botox® and headaches! Medical Botox® for headaches usually provides relief for about three months.
When we use medical Botox® to help with headaches or facial nerve problems, health insurance will often help defer a portion of the cost if you meet certain criteria. If you’re not sure if your plan will cover Botox® for medical reasons, check your plan’s website. Authorization is usually 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 don’t want to use insurance or are seeking the benefits of cosmetic Botox®, we can almost always treat you the same day as your first visit.
While we were all sitting at home for most of 2020, I kept reminding myself that scientists were rapidly working on a COVID-19 Vaccine. Once community spread of COVID-19 became wide spread, there really wasn’t going to be another way out of the pandemic.
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