We tend to think of Botox as that rather magical stuff which can make people look younger. When injected into the face, Botox can smooth away wrinkles and lines leaving the skin looking soft and youthful-looking, and so making men and women feel more confident and happy about their looks.
It’s been used as a non-surgical cosmetic treatment for more than 15 years and is the most popular we have on offer at Face Clinic London. And you might think that it would make the perfect Christmas present for someone.
Well, a Botox treatment from our Soho clinic is likely to be welcomed by anyone who’s going to be indulging a little too much over Christmas – they could start the New Year with a Botox injection which would smooth away their frown lines, soften their forehead wrinkles and erase their crow’s feet after a whirlwind of festive excess!
But did you know that Botox (or botulinum toxin) has lots of other medicinal uses as well? It has been studied for more than 100 medical conditions in all, some of which are quite common and may affect you or someone you know.
It’s now been approved in more than 80 countries for over 20 medical conditions and has the most number of approved uses here in the UK. The Medicine Healthcare Product Regulatory Agency has licensed Botox not only for cosmetic purposes but also for preventing migraines, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), uncontrolled blinking, hemifacial spasm (a neurological condition in which blood vessels constrict a nerve causing muscle spasms), dystonia (muscle spasms), post-stroke muscle spasms and wrist and foot deformities in cerebral palsy.
Botox is also prescribed off-licence for incontinence caused by an over-active bladder. Over-activity leads to an inability to store urine but by injecting Botox directly into the bladder to relax it, patients get more muscle control and therefore less incontinence.
In America, Botox is also used to treat patients with neurological conditions like spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis. We already treat one medical problem at Face Clinic on a regular basis – hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).
Sweating is necessary to control body temperature during times of exercise and in warm surroundings and is a normal response to a rise in temperature or anxiety. But for about 1-2% of the population, their nervous system goes into over-drive and they sweat too much and at inappropriate times. This can make Christmas and New Year a nightmare – for example, they get embarrassed at parties when they sweat a lot in front of friends and/or colleagues.
Botox injections can be used as a very effective treatment for excessive sweating. Multiple small injections just under the skin are given (which are relatively painless and feel like a small sting) and the Botox works by blocking the nerves controlling the sweat glands. The treatment, which can be used both for underarm and forehead sweating, lasts for up to six months. (It can be used for the palms of the hands too).
Doctors also use Botox injections to prevent migraines or tension headaches (in adults). The headaches are caused – often by stress – when the muscles in the forehead contract. The Botox paralyses these muscles and stops them tightening and so triggering a headache. It’s also suggested that it interferes with the transmission of pain signals and about 80 per cent of patients say their headaches/migraines are less severe.
Muscle stiffness and neck pain can be treated with Botox injections as well. Again, this is due to the fact that Botox can prevent muscles from contracting. And it can also relieve constant eye-twitching or blepharospasm in the same way.
Straying further from the stereotype of facial wrinkles, and doctors have even used Botox as an alternative to surgery to treat anal fissures which have been caused by too much straining during bowel movements or as a result of childbirth. Once again, the Botox paralyses the muscle, allowing the fissure time to heal.
So Botox as a non-surgical cosmetic treatment is continuing to get more and more popular, and its uses in the medical field are also being developed constantly. Botox is going to fascinate, both from a vanity and a medical perspective, for a long time to come yet.