As one of the world’s most popular cosmetic procedures, you’ve probably heard of Botox and its wrinkle-reducing powers. But Botox actually originated as treatment for chronic medical conditions; first, for crossed eyes and eye twitching and, later, for the neck pain of cervical dystonia. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its use for conditions like blepharospasm in the 1980s, almost 15 years before Botox Cosmetic got the FDA’s stamp of approval to treat those glabellar or frown lines between the eyebrows. In 2010, patients with Chronic Migraine were presented with an alternative to conventional medications that merely treat the symptoms and not the problem, when the FDA approved Botox for the treatment of this neurological condition among patients aged 18 and older. Below, Dr. Edmund Kwan answers a few of the Frequently Asked Questions about this powerful migraine prevention treatment.
Q. Do Botox Injections in NYC Help Migraines?
A. Yes! When administered properly at our offices in Manhattan, Flushing, and Fort Lee, you may see a significant reduction in the number of “headache days” after a single treatment. In clinical trials, Botox for Chronic Migraine prevented, on average, eight to nine headaches each month after two treatments. Generally, treatment sessions are scheduled every 12 weeks. The reduction in headaches improves over the course of 24 weeks.
Q. How does Botox work?
A. Most Botox products work by inhibiting the action of the muscles responsible for the offending cosmetic concern or medical condition, be it crow’s feet, eye spams, or even excessive sweating; however, as it relates to Chronic Migraine, Botox blocks the release of chemicals that are responsible for producing the pain of migraine headaches. When administered through very thin needles to targeted treatment sites, Botox enters the nerve endings around where it is injected and stops pain networks in the brain from being activated.
Q. What can I expect from each treatment session?
A. Each appointment involves administering the Botox medication through needles so fine that most of our patients say they feel like tiny pin pricks, nothing more. The injections themselves are quite shallow; Botox medication isn’t applied deeply under the skin. Since the procedure is so noninvasive, numbing anesthetic isn’t required. While there are 31 total injections to seven key areas of the head and neck, the session can be completed in around 15 minutes. These sites have been specifically identified as the sources of headache and migraine symptoms, so this particular application is specifically designed to treat this common yet debilitating condition.
Q. And what about side effects?
A. Neck pain is the most common side effect, experienced by 9 percent of patients in studies versus 3 percent for a placebo. We can discuss other potential risks during a consultation, but generally Botox is safe, quick, low-risk, and you can get back to your day and regular activities since it’s also a “no-downtime” procedure.
Q. How do you know if I could benefit from Botox for migraines?
A. We won’t know for sure until after a thorough consultation and evaluation of your medical history. But, in general, the results our patients have seen are truly transformative. As most anyone with Chronic Migraine knows, this is not just your “average headache.” This condition is characterized by:
- Headaches that last four hours or longer
- At least 15 migraines per month for three-plus months
- Frequently, intense pulsing or throbbing
- A “sick” headache, accompanied by nausea
- Extreme sensitivity to light and sound
It’s not uncommon for patients who started with “episodic” migraines a couple of times per month to notice their frequency and severity gets worse over time, to the point where they become a Chronic Migraine sufferer. Such a debilitating and prolonged condition can significantly reduce the quality of your life, affecting work and school performance, and social and family relationships. The best migraine is the one that never happens, and Botox is a proven effective and safe alternative to the pain-relieving medications that merely take the edge off of the headache that has already occurred.
While certainly not a treatment priority, Botox may have the added benefit of also restoring a more relaxed appearance when placed in the temples and on the forehead where static wrinkles normally arise. More questions? Schedule an appointment (718) 661 4580 at one of our three locations.