Botox injections are the fastest-growing cosmetic procedure at the moment. Last year, almost 7.5 million of them were performed in the United States, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. That’s an 845 percent increase over 2000.
So, its power to reduce fine lines and wrinkles is real. But that’s not the only reason for its explosive growth. Did you know doctors also use Botox to treat migraines and hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)? In fact, Botox was originally used to treat migraines. Later on, doctors realized it also smoothed wrinkles.
The FDA, in 2010, approved Botox as a treatment for chronic migraines in adults 18 and over, meaning that you need to experience a headache on 15 or more days of the month. (It’s considered an “off-label” treatment for kids and adolescents, which means it can be prescribed, but it may not be covered by insurance.)
Botox enters the nerve endings around where it’s injected and blocks the release of chemicals involved in pain transmission. Essentially, it halts a migraine before it has a chance to start. But it typically takes a couple of treatments for it to take effect, and the benefits seem to grow with each treatment cycle thereafter. (One treatment lasts 10 to 12 weeks.)
According to the American Migraine Foundation, patients reported that two Botox treatments reduced the number of their headache days by half.
A treatment usually takes about 20 minutes and entails 31 injections with a very small needle—it feels like a pinprick—in several key areas of the head and neck.
It’s covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, but they typically require you to have first tried and failed to respond to two other preventative treatments.
No more sweating
Botox injections are a relatively new treatment for hyperhidrosis. The FDA approved it for those who sweat excessively from their armpits, but it may also be used “off-label” to reduce sweating from hands, feet, and the face.
Not unlike its application with migraine sufferers, Botox blocks the nerves responsible for activating your sweat glands. Normally, when your body temperature rises, your nervous system activates your sweat glands. It’s the body’s natural cooling method. But the nerves that send that signal are overactive in those with hyperhidrosis.
Botox essentially paralyzes those nerves and prevents the sweating, but only in the specific area where the Botox was injected. You’ll receive several injections with a fine needle that’ll form a sort of grid pattern around the area of concern. It’s a pretty simple procedure that can be done during an office visit. And you’ll be able to resume your day as soon as it’s done.
It’ll take between two and seven days to stop sweating in the treated area and up to two weeks for total dryness. But that dryness will last between four and 14 months (for the armpits).
Insurance providers usually cover the full cost, but, like the migraine treatments, they may ask that you try other options first, like a prescription antiperspirant.