By now, most people are aware of the aesthetic wrinkle-reducing benefits of Botox, but it is also starting to be used to treat a wide variety of other conditions.
Botox is a form of botulinum toxin that blocks certain nerve impulses when injected in small doses. This prevents muscles from contracting, and decreases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Over the years, it has proven to be effective in temporarily relaxing and softening the appearance of wrinkles and other facial creases. In fact, since its initial approval by the FDA over 20 years ago, Botox has been the go-to treatment for not only Hollywood stars, but for anyone wishing to resist the signs of aging. Botox is typically used to treat wrinkles on the face, including crow’s feet, forehead wrinkles and frown lines between the brows. The length of its effectiveness varies, but most patients report results lasting 3 to 4 months. With repeated treatment, muscles are trained to relax, and wrinkles appear less severe with time.
While these uses of Botox are more commonly understood, there are other alternative uses from which patients may benefit. From my Manhattan practice, I offer Botox treatments for a more youthful appearance, but also for two lesser-known conditions that can affect many.
Hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating)
This condition, which affects approximately 2% to 3% of the population, causes excessive sweating that cannot be managed by topical solutions. It generally occurs under the arms, but it can also affect the feet and palms of the hands. A series of Botox injections in these areas blocks the release of the chemical which stimulates the sweat gland. Using Botox for excessive sweating can be an effective solution for up to 7 months.
Enlarged Masseter Jaw
This is a condition often caused by overstimulation of the masseter, which is the jaw muscle used for chewing. Constant gum chewing or teeth clenching can make the jaw disproportionate to the rest of the face. An enlarged jaw muscle can also be heredity. Botox is injected into the masseter, causing the muscle to atrophy, becoming smaller and more aligned with the face. Results from Botox treatments to the masseter muscle typically last 3 to 4 months.
Botox has also been proven effective in treatment of disorders as varied as involuntary neck muscle contractions (cervical dystonia), lazy eye, chronic migraines and, most recently, overactive bladder. As researchers continue their studies, it appears that the benefits of Botox are even more widespread than anyone ever thought possible.
WORDS: Gervaise Gerstner, MD